Outsourcing Your Errands: TaskRabbit Allows People to Rent Themselves Out for Odd Jobs

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“As the economy has improved, we always wondered, you know: Are we going to have a drop off in the TaskRabbit community?” she added. “What we're seeing happen is more and more people like the idea of flexible work.”

But there are critics of the service. TaskRabbit takes a flat 20 percent cut of all tasks, no matter how small, and some have accused the company of keeping wages low.

When someone posts a task on TaskRabbit, they can choose whether to pay a flat fee or have TaskRabbit participants bid on what they are willing to be paid for the task. Often, the person posting the task goes for the cheapest bid. That has led some critics to argue the service is exploitative because the people who would perform the tasks try to underbid each other to score the job.

Busque argues the service is not exploiting the task performers.

“That’s actually not what we’re seeing in the data,” she said. “What we see happening is that the consumers, the task posters, the people that need the help, they’re reviewing all these bids and they’re not picking the lowest. They are looking at TaskRabbit profiles. They’re looking at their reputations, their ratings, reviews. They’re finding a balance, I think, between price and quality.”

Becoming a TaskRabbit involves a vetting process, including background checks. Once someone becomes a TaskRabbit, they fill out an online profile that describes who they are, where they are located and what skills they are capable or willing to do. The profile also keeps track of user reviews, ratings and how often the TaskRabbit has done a specific task.

“Ten years ago, there was probably a kid in your neighborhood that, you know, would have come by and mow the lawn or wash your car," Busque said. "And I think, for a time, technology actually silo’d us, and it created these barriers. And I think now technology has finally gotten to a point where it’s reconnecting neighborhoods, reconnecting communities.”

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