Barking Mad.com – Is Bark.com is going to the dogs?

Bark.com launched in 2014 as a web based service matching service providers with customers. Basically, you register as a client, say what you need done and it sends job leads to suitable businesses. A bit like computer dating.

And like any business relying on data matching, it will live or die by the accuracy of its data. It got off to an interesting start by purchasing the data from Dublin-based SkillsPages – 20M contacts of dubious pedigree. I know about this, because in the interests of research, someone registered as a supplier of a highly unlikely service in the name of a very well known science fiction character. No checks were made, but as no one needed  the dilithium crystals realigned in the warp drive in a Constitution-Class Federation starship, no offers of employment were ever received by Chief Engineer Scotty. Until, that is, Bark bought the dodgy data and decided Scotty was an electrician in south London and then the leads started rolling in.

Okay, so we all had a good laugh at their expense before the account is cancelled once the joke had worn thin, but it should be an object lesson in data validation if you’re trying to give potential customers confidence in your “Professionals”.

And then this morning, in the space of 90 minutes, I received a load of emails to a made-up address on one of the domains I look after, but using my name. The emails contained quotes for a job that I had apparently posted. How could this be? I scrolled back down the email and found a “Welcome to Bark” message, giving “my” username and password, and implying I’d just created an account and posted a job request. Obviously someone had, but it wasn’t me.

My first reaction was to read the email carefully, looking for the “I didn’t register this account” link, but there was nothing of the kind. Of course, what they should really do is verify any email address; i.e. check that it actually belongs to the person claiming to set up the account.

Out of respect to the people who’d bothered to quote for the job, I emailed them all back saying “Sorry – someone seems to have done this as a joke”. However, Bark bounced these all back, because I’d sent them from my real email address; one that obviously didn’t match the fake one. So Bark can check email addresses when they want to!

Bark.com is leaving itself open to all kinds of trouble by operating like this. The killer is that the professionals putting in the quotes have paid bark.com to do so, but could claim that bark.com hasn’t taken enough care to ensure the job leads are genuine. By not even verifying the email address, they could be said to be making absolutely no effort at all.

When I spoke to Bark.com and raised this very specific issue, the claim was this rarely, if ever, happens. I provided the details and they promised to refund the people who’d been charged for a false lead, and said “This is not how we operate, this should never happen”, and that “when it’s brought to their attention they close down the bogus account and refund the money.”

6 Replies to “Barking Mad.com – Is Bark.com is going to the dogs?”

  1. Quite simply, Bark.com is a scam company that rips of trader with credits which have about as much use as a beef burger on a vegans dinner plate…. ie, pointless, offensive and anger inducing.

  2. I think Bark operates the same way that Thumbtack does. It’s in the business of selling credits to professionals (service providers) to quote on jobs that are not real. It is a scam.

  3. Great idea with poor execution. I paid $100 for credits and chased 10 Photography leads. I got one call back that went nowhere. Most lead descriptions were extremely vague about what they wanted or needed so I could not offer an estimate on my response to the leads.. I think Bark should require that their leads MUST contact each vendor that responds. It seems fair given that vendors are paying for leads and should be given a chance to get the job, not be met with silence. Otherwise it looks like a scam to me.

    1. I agree. Leads are so vague so I avoid those. Others I’ve applied for went nowhere as probably 30 or more businesses are also applying and only one will get the job. Bark.com win every time with this lottery. They should only charge if you get the job.

  4. Hi Timothy,

    My name is Jamie and I manage the Customer Support team here at Bark.com.

    I wanted to address some of the issues you’ve raised, as it’s disappointing to hear your feedback when we have 1000s of professionals securing new business every single day on our platform.

    So you’re aware, every Bark (request) goes through a thorough screening process before its released – and we only ever accept a request on the basis we’re 100% satisfied it is genuine. We always aim to get the client between 2 and 5 responses and on average see 2 responses per Bark. Response rates are watched very closely by our Marketing department for two main reasons:

    – We do not want to overwhelm the client.
    – We want Sellers to secure business and continue using us – we do not have a subscription, sign up fee or contract and operate on a pay per introduction basis – meaning its in our interest to keep competition levels low.

    Here are just some of the ways that we screen our leads:

    – When a request is placed we know its origin and which campaign it has come through.
    – We know if the client has used our services before and what the outcome was.
    – We check their IP address against the place they are requesting the services. We also have anything outside the UK flagged to us.
    – Verifying the phone number – we work with a 3rd party company that check the number has been connected to a network within the last 3 hours.
    – Verifying the email address – when a request is placed we send the client a welcome email – if this email is not delivered (e.g. bounces back) then we do not release the Bark.
    – Ensuring Adequate detail is provided – If not all the questions are answered or we feel the description is too vague then we manually follow up with the client.
    – With some sensitive categories we ensure they’re all manually checked before release.

    If it does come to light that something has slipped through the net then we close the request and re-credit those that have responded.

    Looking in to your account specifically:

    – We did send emails from a Oxy and a Sax. There were no enquiries from anyone called Park.
    – We alerted you to 244 jobs between 15/6 and 29/8. You were only charged for the ones you responded to.
    – 65 of the 244 jobs did arrive between midnight and 0600. Reasons for this will include:
    The nature of the work, often involving suspected cheating spouses, may become apparent late at night
    In a number of our sensitive categories an additional human layer of checks is built in to ensure quality. This may mean that the time the request is placed, and the time it’s released are slightly apart
    – The most common times for job to arrive was between 2200 and midnight.

    The accusations that our leads are false is totally baseless and we can see you have actually been hired and have a 5 star review from one of our clients.

    We’ll happily speak to any Seller who has concerns about any enquiry and we can be contacted at our London office on team@bark.com or 02036970237 should you or anybody else have any questions for us.

    Kindest regards,

    Jamie
    The Bark Team
    bark.com
    Phone: +4420 3697 0237
    team@bark.com

  5. Good morning all,

    I am a Private Investigator and have been trading for over 20 years. i signed up to bark to evaluate the service. Within a few hours I started getting lead enquiries. However, the names on the enquiries are somewhat suspicious. For example:

    Sax
    Oxy
    Park

    I think you get the picture. Clearly these are false enquiries, designed to lure the account holder into spending money on “credits” in order to be able to respond. Having been in this business for so many years, I obviously see a trend in requires. However, via bark, I receive enquires, from people supposedly based in England at times such as:

    01.00

    03.00

    04.00 etc. This is on a DAILY basis!! Now, either the nation has taken to night work with a passion or once again, these enquiries are wholly false. I am definitely leaning towards the latter.

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