Confessions of a ServiceMagic.com Mentality

Posted on June 5, 2013 by Sara Eastwood-McLean - Also by this author

Last month I read a news story about a young woman who died after falling out of the back door of a party bus on a highway. The operator, as it turns out, was one of those under-the-radar kind with a website that only features a private cell number with no physical address.
The bus was a refurbished para-transit school bus. In my investigations on the what, how and why, it became very clear that the gypsy market is alive and thriving in many markets. In talking to our regular readers around the country, everyone is aware of these underground operators in their markets. The consensus is while these rogue operators are annoying to operators who run above board legitimate companies, there is enough consumer demand for super cheap limo rides to keep the illegal ones afloat.     

I began to tackle this editorial from a different angle, but then I remembered my own personal faux paus. After getting pool repair quotes in the tens of thousands for a tile remodel, I resorted to servicemagic.com (now homeadvisors.com) to see how I could cut costs. Indeed, I did not hire a bonafide pool contractor, but a tile “guy” who was out of work and willing to do the job for pennies on the dollar. Does he have workers comp? A real business license? Do I even know if he is an ex-con or child molester? I have no idea. You see, I was just too caught up with getting something for nothing to think about all the risks involved. And this is not an isolated incident. I have hired house cleaners with zero background information, and I have hired “handymen” to do what an electrical contractor and certified plumber should really do.

Circling back to our industry while putting on a different set of lenses, I can see those consumers who want to rent a party bus or a limo for dirt cheap. They consist of gaggles of girlfriends, kids, bachelor parties and club hoppers on a Saturday night. They are people who are not thinking in terms of the safety of the equipment or the driver.

Sometimes it just boils down to not having enough wealth to pay to have something done the right way. In these hard times it seems that quality is a luxury many of us cannot afford. If I were flush with cash, I would not hesitate to spend money for peace of mind. Nevertheless, now that I am a bit more enlightened, I Googled servicemagic.com to read the reviews. From both the clients who posted jobs to those that hired help, the evaluations are horrific. Here is one example:

For two years, I have interviewed (many) and hired (some) guys to mow/edge/blow my lawn, through Service Magic. I have met the biggest bunch of inept jerks I have ever encountered. They have been rude, unreliable, haughty, or pathetically destructive.” Service Magic DOES NOT STAND BY THE CUSTOMER WHEN THERE ARE DAMAGES.

No matter how doggedly we all try to beat the system, in the end you always get what you pay for.

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