Does Thumbtack.com Connect You With Professionals?

A homeowner says he trusted a website to connect him to a professional contractor - but that's not what he got.

Brett Shannon needed a fence around his property. He hired a contractor using the website Thumbtack.com -- a site that promises to help you "find local professionals."

Shannon wanted a professional: somebody who's been doing this for a living, knows the ins and outs and the correct way to do things. But he says that's not what he got.

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He said he paid a contractor $6,000 and ended up with an unstable fence; with planks cut too short and crooked posts.

"When I saw the finished project - no, there's no way that this was somebody who should be classified as a pro," he said.

It turned out he was right. The contractor wasn't a professional at all. He wasn't licensed, as required by state law.

"I thought we had been scammed, ripped off. And Thumbtack had participated in this," he said.

Shannon expected Thumbtack to weed out unlicensed contractors from its site. But it doesn't.

When NBC4 posted jobs that require licensed contractors, about 40 percent of the contractors that made a bid on NBC4's posted jobs weren't licensed to do so.

"You know, it doesn't surprise me," Rick Lopes of the California Contractors State License Board said. Lopes said the board has used Thumbtack to target unlicensed contractors in stings.

Lopes said the board has reached out to Thumback, offering to help it keep unlicensed contractors off its site. But Lopes said Thumbtack didn't respond.

"It's an OK first place to start. But don't just hire somebody because they came up on Thumbtack. And don't assume Thumbtack has done a background check or checked them or knows the quality of their work," Lopes said.

Thumbtack said it requires professionals to certify that they won't take jobs they're not licensed to perform. Because of that, the company says it booted Shannon's contractor from its site.

Thumbtack also offered to mediate his complaint with his contractor, but he declined.

"It's caused so much anguish in our lives, in our home," Shannon said.

As for the unlicensed contractors that bid on NBC4's jobs, Thumbtack said it's "reminding" them not to accept jobs they're not licensed to perform.

Thumbtack also said that occupational licensing is "incredibly complicated," and that it's constantly looking to improve its processes so its customers can hire with confidence.

Remember, when hiring a contractor, be sure to check their license. Check them here.

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