Cool Stuff: Chore-outsourcer Task Rabbit makes NYC debut, my tub finally gets a cleaning

By Emily Feldman  | August 19, 2011 - 8:20AM

TaskRabbit, a website that links the overburdened (or lazy) with vetted errand-runners, arrived in Gotham last week following success in Boston and three West Coast markets.

The process is simple: Users post a description of a task (transcribe audio, unload a dishwasher, pack for a move, walk your dog, build furniture, run your castoffs to the thrift store, etc.) and set the price they'd be willing to pay. An army of "TaskRabbits" receives these alerts and whoever responds first (and bids closest to the asking price) wins the job.

I tried it out on Tuesday night, posting a plea for someone to come over and clean my oven and bathtub. I explained that a dripping rack of ribs had made a mess of my oven and that every time I've cooked since the incident, my kitchen's clouded with smoke. The tub also needed help. I'd been putting it off and the situation was getting urgent (as you can see from the photo above).

I posted both chores as a single $30 task (paid for by TaskRabbit for trying them out) and received confirmation 15 minutes later that a TaskRabbit had been assigned to me. My Rabbit, (who I'll call John) a 27-year-old who lived near me in Park Slope, Brooklyn, arrived on time (I scheduled for Wednesday night, 8 p.m.), wasn't scary, and seemed to be making the most of this new side-gig.

Since the August 10 New York launch he had already delivered balloons to a party, brought someone's laundry to their hotel, and could have picked up a few extra bucks getting frozen yogurt for a TaskPoster in my neighborhood had I not pushed our appointment back an hour.

"I kind of feel like a superhero," he said. "I show up and everyone's always so happy and grateful."

Before becoming a beloved task-runner, John had to undergo a serious screening which involved a video interview and a federal background check—something that should make prospective TaskPosters a bit more comfortable with the idea of inviting a stranger to run their errands.

When he finished with my oven and tub, I gave John a positive review on the site (and a $7 tip for bearing with my endless questions).

TaskRabbit isn't the first website of its kind to hit New York. ZipGigs, an errand-running site, launched last year, but folded shortly thereafter due to high operational costs and trouble managing demands. Fortunately, TaskRabbit has already made it through its first three years, has launched an app and has plans to continue expanding. Which is great for people like me, with tight schedules and plenty of chores I'm happy to outsource. 

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