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Editor Outsources Everyday Life to India

ByABC News via logo
August 1, 2005, 7:56 AM

Aug. 1, 2005 — -- After reading up on the trend of large companies outsourcing jobs overseas, AJ Jacobs, Esquire magazine's Editor-at Large, began wondering how much of his own life he could send overseas. He discovered he could outsource almost everything, from ordering his food to fighting with his wife, and wrote about his experience in this month's issue of Esquire.

"To begin with they were answering my e-mails, making calls for me, ordering groceries, buying movie tickets," Jacobs said. "By the end they were reading my son bedtime stories."

Business outsourcing is a growing multibillion-dollar a year industry in India, with most estimates putting 2 to 4 percent of U.S. computer jobs and 5 percent of call center jobs being performed by people overseas.

Many Americans are worried that their jobs will soon go overseas, and after his own social experiment, Jacobs said those fears are well founded.

For one month, a team in Bangalore, India, paid Jacobs' bills, bought gifts for his family and even called his parents for their weekly chat.

When Jacobs got into a fight with his wife, Julie, he outsourced his complaint to his assistant, Asha.

Asha wrote in an e-mail to Julie: "Julie, do understand your anger that I forgot to pick up the cash at the ATM. I have been forgetful and I am sorry about that, but it does not change the fact that I love you very much."

Asha also sent Julie a card with hugging teddy bears.

"I thought it was totally pathetic," Julie Jacobs said. "AJ, who does not like confrontation whatsoever, was now using a woman 4,000 miles away to handle my confrontation skills."

Jacobs' so-called remote assistants came an a relatively inexpensive price. He paid $1,000 for an assistant named Honey who worked 8 hours a day and $500 for a firm called "Your Man in India" who worked four hours a day. His assistants went above and beyond their assignments, even thinking of new projects they could perform for Jacobs, such as his taxes.