So, you need that coffee table from Ikea assembled? Hot soup delivered to your sick brother? The next cubicle wrapped in cling wrap on April Fool’s day? Someone to pick up a cake? You’re in luck: TaskRabbit has come to Philadelphia.
The company’s tag line: “Get just about anything done by safe, reliable, awesome people.” The company screens its “rabbits,” which makes it safer (and a lot less creepy) than Craigslist.
The company won’t reveal the number of tasks that have been accomplished through the site , though it boasts of 15,000 rabbits in 15 markets across the country. Its Philadelphia branch opened this past August and already has 800-1,000 pre-screened rabbits available for hire.
Attention out-of-work “handy” dudes: Philadelphia’s rabbit needs are leaning toward “jack of all trade” males, ages 25-40. Whether that means Philadelphians are too busy to do their own painting and assembling, no one can say, but 75 percent of the company’s rabbits rely on their TaskRabbit work to pay their bills and 10 percent work through the service as their full-time job. Handyman services are the most popular job listing across the country, with people so desperate for someone else to build their Ikea furniture that it has its own listing on the site.
Those whose skill set does not include power tools need not despair: Cleaning and organizing tasks are the second most popular chore request. And if you’d rather arrange flowers and hang crepe paper, weddings and special event help tasks are frequently posted. People are using the site as an on demand wedding assistance and hiring armies of rabbits for special events. I can’t help but envision rows of cartoon rabbits, lined up and hopping down the aisle ahead of the bride.
Task “posters” list the job that needs doing and how much they are willing to pay. Rabbits bid on the job, and the poster choses one, based on the rabbit’s listed rating system and “level.” Senior marketing and communications manager Johnny Brackett told me that the system has been “gamified.” As rabbits do more and more errands and get more and more user ratings, they “level up,” making the rating experience feel like a video game. This kind of fun makes sense when you note that more than half of the registered rabbits are under 40, with 40 percent between 21 and 30.
While the rabbits are vetted, the task posters are not. After much tweaking in their five years of operation, TaskRabbit has settled on an across-the-board 20 percent service fee charged to posters, e.g. if a rabbit agrees to accept a moving job for $150, TaskRabbit is paid an additional $30 for hooking the mover and movee up. Some rabbits have had trouble making sure they get every bit of their hard-earned dollars out of posters, who sometimes surprise their rabbits with more work, more difficult work than listed, or asking them for additional services once the rabbit shows up. For the most part, reviews on both sides are positive and many people both use rabbits and are rabbits themselves, almost trading skill sets.
I think I’d feel too guilty paying someone to clean my toilet or wrap my Christmas presents, but it’s nice to know that there are rabbits at the ready.