I am a huge fan of the on-demand service economy. I take advantage of it on a daily basis. It saves me time and makes my life easier, so I’m fine paying a premium. And because there’s a growing number of people like me, more and more of these services are popping up. But as great as these services are for consumers like myself, are they actually great for its employees? I’m afraid that these startups aren’t sustainable because their economic model won’t be able to do two things. One, provide their employees a living wage. Secondly, I don’t think many of these companies will be able to withstand an economic downturn (my thoughts on that later).
I’m breaking this post up into two posts. The first half is going to be opinion and experience using different on-demand service apps. The second part is going to be a high level look at the economics of these services and their long-term viability as sustainable businesses.
What Apps Do I Use?
Like I said, I use many of these apps on a regular basis. I’m going to divide the list into apps I love and recommend and apps that I use but don’t love. Plus the one app I fucking hate.
Apps I Love:
Uber/Lyft – I’ve written about these two apps extensively, so you can read my full thoughts here. But I’ll sum it up for you like this. No matter what kind of bad PR either of these companies get, I love them both. They have made my life infinitely easier and I will continue to use them.
Instacart – Since I don’t have a car, I will occasionally use Instacart. The only reason why I don’t use them more is that they don’t deliver Trader Joes. TJs is my go-to spot, so I shop there the majority of the time. I use Instacart when I’m injured (which has been too much this year) or when I want heavy things delivered (beverages and any melons are not pleasant to carry).
Seamless/Eat24 – If you’re not familiar with either Seamless or Eat24, it’s simple. Order delivery through the app. Store your delivery address and payment info and then browse all the restaurants in your area (that have deals with each app, which is plenty), and go through the entire menu at your leisure. Click on your desired order and bam! Your food has been ordered. No finding your credit card, no trying to figure out what restaurant delivers in your area, it’s all right there in the app.
FancyHands – I can’t wait for the day where I can afford to hire an assistant to run my life. No more double booked meetings. She can take care of everything. Until then, I use FancyHands. FancyHands is a personal assistant app. You can ask an army of assistants to complete a variety of different tasks for you, mostly administrative. I use FancyHands for two primary uses. One is research. Like I had someone find me 10 bloggers who blogged about parenting. Or I had someone copy all the names on a screenshot into a spreadsheet. The best task I’ve ever requested is have the assistant call a customer service line, deal with all the BS, and patch me in when I finally got to talk to the rep. Definitely a great app.
Soothe.com – Soothe is Uber for massage. I don’t use this app often (full disclosure, they were a sponsor for my Mac and Cheese Invite) but I love it. The reason I don’t use it more is because I invest disposable income into my business (I guess it’s not disposable then). But sometimes you just have to “treat yo-self.” Soothe allows you to request a massage therapist to come to your place. Payment/tip is all taken care of through the app.
Apps I Use, Indifferent:
Postmates - The only reason why I don’t love Postmates is that it’s expensive. It used to be a $13 delivery charge. The last time I used it, it was something like $6 fee plus a percentage of my total purchase. So that’s why I don’t use it more often. But it did save my ass when I fucked up my knee. I was in so much pain at work and could barely walk. So I used Postmates to have someone deliver me an ice pack, pain killers, and a knee brace to my office. Totally worth it.
Homejoy - The only reason why my apartment is presentable to women is because of Homejoy. I’m a mess. That’s why I can’t live with roommates. They all end up hating me. But Homejoy keeps my place spiffy clean. Their prices have gone up, but I can’t complain. If I think someone does such a good job that I don’t think I could clean that well, it’s worth it.
The “Fuck you, go out of business” app:
Handy - I tried out Handy (formerly Handybook) because I saw a Facebook ad for a $19 cleaning. They force you to sign up for a subscription right off the bat (and I later learned you have to CALL to cancel). I already hate it. But my place needs cleaning and I read that AirBnb had a partnership with them. Worth a $19 bet in my book. Awful.
First of all, they sent a guy to clean my place. I know this will sound misogynistic, but I don’t trust men to clean. I think women do a far superior job due to their attention to detail (this comment will probably get me in trouble at some point). Every cleaner I’ve had was a woman and she did a fabulous job. This guy didn’t do a great job.
First of all, he was late. Nearly 30 minutes late. I was going to work late because of this appointment so waiting for 30 minutes is a real inconvenience. That could have been forgiven if he had done a great job. Except he was shit. I could have cleaned the apartment better than he did. He never finished cleaning my toilet and he missed a ton of spots dusting. I left the vacuum out, but he never used it. Fucking nightmare. Never again.
Next week I’ll go into my thoughts on how sustainable these companies and services are. In the meantime, ping me if you have any in-depth questions about my experiences with these apps. If you’re interested in signing up, I can send you an invite for a discount if you’d like.
[First Image Courtesy of Harvest Scoop]