WeddingWire Reviews: Disables and Threatens Vitality of Vendor Account for $66.67

I’m about to launch a tiny rant rocket. tiny-rant-rocket
You see, I’m a very low key customer for WeddingWire. I never ask them for anything or need anything. My sole job is to get client reviews on their website since it ranks high in Google (unfortunately for all wedding vendors in the US of A). I have 21 reviews right now, which is a pretty impressive number considering it can be very, very hard to get clients to write reviews. It’s even hard for me to take time to write reviews sometimes! I get it. So with all of that hard work under my belt, and under the floral sashes of my clients, WeddingWire decides to send me the Most Repulsive Business Email of the Year. This is my review of how unstable and unpredictable they can be from a wedding photographer’s standpoint.

A few months ago my card stopped working but only for them and not for any other website or service I use. There is no way to update the card online and I personally love to do everything online. So that is the first problem with them. Their site is outdated in every way possible, technically and aesthetically, and they don’t have billing options for us which should be a core feature. Eventually they got my card sorted out after I asked them to run it again and the month was paid.

So for some reason it happened again for July. This month happens to be the last month of my package. So they emailed me about it and called, and I figured it will sort itself out again when they run it again. Before I could even get back to them to try again, they sent me an email saying that my account is suspended. I have put the most important line of this email in bold:

This email is to notify you that your WeddingWire account is currently in suspension due to nonpayment in the amount of of $66.67 . You have 5 business days to resolve or your account will proceed to termination.

If your account proceeds to termination, you will no longer be able to login and your Weddingwire advertising agreement will be forfeited due to nonpayment. Should you wish to reinstate your account in the future, you must resolve the balance on your account in full and fulfill a new 12-month advertising agreement. In addition, you are no longer eligible for any cancellation policy as outlined in the WeddingWire Terms of Purchase.

To reconcile your account, please reach out to your Customer Success representative.

I am sure you notice the issue here. And really, can you believe that? I’m in here, the happy world of weddings and they say something like that – over 70 bucks? They are telling someone who has used the site for years, with 21 awesome reviews, who worked hard, who cares about their account being there, to sign up for another year to get the account access back? What year is this, 2006? Who does that kind of thing anymore?

On top of this, there’s the fact that I would hardly get any leads. Then one day I mentioned that I might upgrade or change my account. And I suddenly got a lead everyday for about five days, they just kept popping up. Then when I didn’t take any action, they stopped.

It’s almost as if they can turn leads on or off for any user at will depending on the monetary value of the customer, so that is probably the most EXQUISITE and tweaked part of their system!

If you are using WeddingWire, you probably have already experienced something shady but you just put up with it. And if you are searching Google for reviews or other cases of shady, you’ve found one.

So the end of the story for now is that I received the email around 7 AM on a Thursday, replied an hour later. No reply all day. No reply all day on Friday. So I’m left without access to my account all weekend.

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How to Convert PPK PuTTY File to PEM on OS X 10.11 or Later

If you don’t have PuTTY installed these days, use Homebrew to do it painlessly. Don’t have Homebrew?

Open Terminal and paste:

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)

Then type the command:

brew install putty

Then PuTTY should just work fine without any hassle. The command for converting a PuTTY Private Key would be:

puttygen privatekey.ppk -O private-openssh -o privatekey.pem

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Deceitful Well-Known Companies Who Are Email Spammers

Did you know that insurance companies like MetLife still think it’s okay to generate leads for new insurance customers through spam? I’ve had enough of just ignoring these types of emails that land in my junk mail folder on Gmail. Having my Gmail account since 2004, it’s really been around the block. And now, by looking at the fruitfulness of my spam folder, it’s very clear which companies hire the scum of the Internet to send out random spam which attempt to entice users to click the links inside. These days, emails are not just about random people looking for things I can’t even mention here. Many well known companies have shady employees without any moral direction, who are deliberately making a mess of their reputation. My first case here is Liberty Mutual. An insurance company trying to gain leads in deceitful ways, as usual.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.15.49 PM

The link in this email (http://ttdeipotent.com/UgmDUESChSHnhaJQuMnzN4/EWYwqszGuPblrCjNpaSxpH/JVgcdEImNIAmlhNcvCSXfyCM/IaMqcRlSIvhUbbw/vFLNG5WAHSv7ZCudqpPWkE6yEHCVJUJwPtGi6ejb/VpFNefiLzKCzMuAf) forwards to a real page and email campaign at Liberty Mutual:

https://www.libertymutual.com/quote-intent?src=%20email_pacq_em_Aug15_tc11_quotebut&cmpgncde=2438

Maybe Liberty Mutual has customers who can make money for referring customers. I don’t know and don’t have time to find out. But either way, you have to agree something is going on which is not good.

Next case is MetLife. I guess they have people doing the same thing, only for life insurance.

MET Life Insurance Email Spammers Scammers
MetLife is among the largest global providers of insuranceannuities, and employee benefit programs, with 90 million customers in over 60 countries.” Wow. To be so prestigious.. what a joke! The link in the email (http://equalpack.com/PRsIxujjhXHMxpkYc/yPUvTFixZIYmvyRZIW/PdDERcfEiQVaZrrHKXZ/RJVNLJaY4Zm-fYY5z_8lmLI_/MjBKOMcqkOELRFfbCbFrUSZG/xfIQseCklfuhahsNY/) goes here: https://www.metlife.com/campaign/life-insurance/simplified/index.html?WT.mc_id=ce089985&pagefrom=MLBN_LIS&dclid=CMOL6v7zicgCFQWAfgodF5YGyQ

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Quick Update Before Chipotle Bowls

I have a lot to say but we’re about to make a run to Chipotle and that is more important to me at the moment. I’ll be 25 weeks tomorrow and feeling pretty tired as usual, but today was actually kind of normal! I actually dried and straightened my hair. wp_20140930_19_31_59_pro

 

Also today was Day 2 of potty training Liam. His #2 didn’t make it into the toilet today but he did pee once in it. The potty is slowly becoming his friend. I showed Liam his new underwear too so hopefully we will be in those soon, at least during the day. This is my number one goal right now to make sure he is potty trained before baby comes. It even feels weird to say trained, as if he is an animal. I just want him to use the potty. 😉Finally, last night was his third or maybe fourth night in his big boy bed. He has been so wonderful and loves the bed. It has been amazing to have him walk into our room in the morning and surprise us with a big “Hiiiii!” Things are happening!

wp_20140927_15_52_13_pro

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Amazon Prime Review: The Easy Life for Mom, Prime Boxes At My Door

I became a member of Amazon Prime in 2005, just months after getting an Amazon credit card from Chase. It started as a mostly harmless way to cure the first world problem of not wanting to wait a week for a package. That taste of two-day shipping luxury quickly turned into a total dependency. Becoming a first time parent really accelerated my use of Amazon Prime. In those first few months, I figured out that joining Amazon Mom and getting a subscription for diapers was the best thing since two hours of non-interrupted sleep. The companion to my diaper subscription soon became the Bounty paper towel subscription. Then the Charmin Basic toilet paper subscription. Enter Quaker Granola Bars on the scene, baby wipes, baby food pouches and more. Sometimes my Amazon boxes are so big, my son uses them to play inside of and we have complete Prime Cities made with multiple boxes. I even started getting dog food delivered so I can save the trip to the pet store and carrying the huge bag across the parking lot. (I said this was first world.)

The amount of money I have saved is phenomenal. Purchasing a big case of just about anything from Amazon is such a smart move. My son was an Enfamil Gentle-ease-er and if I had purchased it one tub at a time, or even the two-packs, I would have wasted so much money. In the end I did waste some money because the subscription didn’t come soon enough and I had to run out to the store a few times, but that was my fault, not Amazon’s.

When I do run out to go shopping at the local grocery store, Target or any other establishments, my visits are more enjoyable. There’s no pressure that this is my chance to get everything. They’re also faster and less of a “big deal” because shopping with children can be stressful and unpredictable. Knowing I don’t have to get a huge package of towels or diapers makes things so much nicer. I can focus on the food or other things I need.

The UPS delivery drivers must have my house in their “Favorites” list on their GPS. I might as well open our house to be a location for Amazon Locker.

Amazon, why are you so amazing? Sadly, you are killing so much local business. But you have made my life so much better. How am I to choose the right thing to do? The answer is, I just can’t think about it. I want my boxes. I have my sanity and I collect more time at home with my little one.

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WordPress Item Not Updated Error, How To Fix

If you are trying to update your categories and slugs, and the error “Item Not Updated” comes up, there is only one reason why. You are trying to give a category slug the same exact title and format as one of your existing post tags. Category slugs cannot be the phrase as any of your tags for posts. For example, if you have a tag called,

tech-tips-microsoft

You’ll need to make a category slug like this instead,

microsoft-tech-tips

Just change your words around a bit and you’ll get around the mysterious “Item Not Updated” error on WordPress with ease. I am thinking they will add a note along with that error some day which actually explains why it’s denying your changes.

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Thumbtack.com Review: A Social Service Marketplace, Wins and Woes

I have been a member of a website called Thumbtack since the summer of 2011. I am using their service to find leads as a family and wedding photographer. Today I felt like it was time to put my opinion into the hat of Thumbtack reviews. At first I wondered if the site was legitimate and carefully began to explore my options. The site seemed to be pretty quiet and had a few bugs but it started to grow very fast. Over time the site has improved in so many ways and they really have things streamlined now. For example, you no longer have to email them to receive a refund for a quote that was never viewed. It all happens automatically and the site as a whole is really a breeze to use. Their support has always been fast, no matter what. And as far as traffic (getting in a lot of leads), now they really have that down as well. For one, their Google rank is very high because Thumbtack users are encouraged to place special links to Thumbtack’s website on their own websites, which equals major SEO flow. And step two: there are ads for Thumbtack all over Google (and I am assuming elsewhere too) and because of that you will receive many quotes per day, at least in my experience. The amount of quotes coming in is just overflowing compared to a couple of years ago. So you’d think you would have a lot of luck because of that? Sadly, not really.

My opinion comes from a photographer’s point of view. While many requests are simply for head shots (which I don’t do any longer), and while others are brides and grooms who want six+ hour weddings at multiple locations for under $500 (insert sad face here, because I am definitely looking for wedding clients who want good work) you will meet some truly awesome and special clients from time to time. I think since I am in photography that it’s harder to create a match. I suspect in other fields it may be easier to book jobs more often. I have only had eight jobs from the site since 2011 but they have all been great experiences. You can view my Thumbtack profile by clicking here.

Despite the low number of jobs, I’ve always tried my best to connect with more clients. In the past few months I even became a little lead happy. I dished out a lot of my money for people to view my quotes (mostly for weddings) and they never replied to me. I did about seven in one day once, and nothing happened. They all viewed my message but that was it. They didn’t even say thank you. Out of nearly one hundred transactions in my entire Thumbtack history, only about three have ever sent me a short note if they were completely set on not choosing me. It starts to get you down because you at least want an acknowledgement that they appreciate that you wrote to them. It’s almost as if they are just comparing prices, testing the water, and jumping ship without saying a word. I take so much time out of my day to go through these and send out messages. I am not sure if some of them understand we are paying to be able to talk to them and receive their information. I am not just complaining over the fact no one is sending me love notes with hearts, I am just a little sensitive about effort without results. Dollars in the wind.

Thumbtack has a page about what makes a winning quote. But winning quotes don’t always equal a match. I feel like my messages are upbeat and informative. I customize each message according to what the person wants. I truly think in the end they do not reply to me because my price is not low enough. I will be using Thumbtack a lot less seriously from now on. It is probably better suited for other types of services, but in the end everyone wants a good deal with just about anything I guess. But when business owners are paying for equipment, insurance, licenses, and with their own time, some just don’t get it. Especially with photography because our job continues when we get back to our home or office. But enough of my venting. I am very happy with Thumbtack’s service still and I really have enjoyed collecting some great reviews there. I just have to wait for those diamonds in the rough to come by.

My business page on Facebook is located at http://facebook.com/lovelightlens Stop by to like the page and I will return the favor. Good luck out there as you find leads for your business.

UPDATE: February 28, 2014 – Today I am officially done with buying Thumbtack credits. My review of the entire Thumbtack experience is now completed below.

Over the past month, I decided to give Thumbtack another serious chance. This was decided after talking with so many awesome people through this blog post and using the great methods mentioned. Still, I have spent money again to only have bidders view my quote and never get back to me. I thought I landed a good job a week ago, but the person keeps stalling now to complete the service. Once again, everything has been overly time consuming. Waiting for the diamonds in the rough, as I wrote in my post back in August, is just taking too much time and effort. I want to have time for it, but I have to just admit to myself that I don’t have that time anymore. I’ll now stick with local advertising in my city and start some Google Ads (an avenue I haven’t attempted since 2011). At least then I won’t have to deal with the Thumbtack control panel and the way the entire Thumbtack process allows potential customers to forget about us way too easily. My absolute and final conclusion?

1. When customers fill out a request on Thumbtack, there should be a lot more *required* fields asking for information about what they need. No more vague and half-empty descriptions! Then the ‘Ask a Question’ feature would hardly even be needed. Service pros will see exactly what time something is needed, for how long, where the service is needed, etc. This would allow service pros to feel less like we are being so limited with our questions. We need all info, up front, so our time is not wasted.

1. Thumbtack should require service-seekers to pay for submitting a job request. It should no longer be free. It’s not fair that our side is so serious, while the other side is so indifferent to our efforts. I suggest that if the customer does not find the right service pro that their money be returned to them. That could make the incentive to pay more tempting and get serious customers in our lead alerts. If Thumbtack became so popular by being free to use, isn’t it time to give something back to the service professionals?

Please continue to share your thoughts in the comments below if you have any ideas on how to generate leads for your business. We all need to hear them and work on this together. Your posts, time and effort are very appreciated!

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DotResults Back In Action

My last post here was four months ago and that has been very unacceptable, especially to Google, since my visitor rate has dropped by half. I just haven’t had the time to keep up with being techy since my son was born. All of the time I manage to get on the computer is devoted to my photography business and my work is stretched out for days at a time. I do miss this blog and doing geeky stuff. All I would be able to offer right now is camera advice and photography tips. I’d like to be involved in more than that though, so today I was able to get a new theme on this blog so I can focus on content and just feel renewed. Let’s see how well I do. I cannot make any real prediction of how often I will post, but I am looking forward to delving into what I can!

P.S. I let some domains expire this past year. I had to finally admit that there was not any time for certain wild ideas and got my priorities straight.

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Saving OfficeMax and Office Depot, The Merger Matters

As you drive down familiar streets in your town, the commercial landscape is always changing. Old businesses close while others change owners and receive brand new names. What can be the most shocking is to see very large businesses completely cease operation, those companies which rent massive spaces over 20,000 square feet. The most recent of those was Borders, and then quite a few Albertsons grocery stores in our area. But now, there’s a new fiasco brewing. For over five years now, two major office supply brands, OfficeMax and Office Depot have been struggling to survive. Anytime I have walked into one of these stores, even Staples, it is just so completely boring and there’s never many people. All of these brands have tried to introduce new things, like cute folders to attract women, Martha Stewart product lines to attract organized people, and more products for kids to use at school. But at the end of the day, I don’t think any of those things have truly helped.

Staples has many government contracts behind them. I think they have stood out even because of their name. Staples. It is simple and fun. OfficeMax and Offce Depot both sound like generic, unhappy places. It seems like the merger will make OfficeMax obsolete and only the Office Depot locations will be left. Here comes a huge amount of empty spaces in a city near you. I wonder what will be filled in them eventually. Perhaps more Aldi stores for one, those are always popping up lately. This post has been very random, I wanted to talk about it and now do not have time to go back and organize it. I’ll come back to this merger discussion a bit later and clean things up. It always fascinates me when things like this are announced.

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