Is it safe to use Taskrabbit

TaskRabbit: Ikea brings new service provider to Germany

Just assemble a Billy shelf or clean the bathroom: With the TaskRabbit app, users can order craftsmen and cleaning aids to come to their homes. The service will also start in Germany in November. Ikea wants to integrate the service into its online shop.

From babysitters to tradespeople to cleaning assistance - numerous services in Germany can now be booked via apps or online portals. From November, the US company TaskRabbit also wants to get involved in this market.

The start-up from San Francisco specializes in services related to furniture transport and assembly as well as simple house and handicrafts. "We believe that there is a billion-dollar market for household work alone," said TaskRabbit managing director Stacy Brown-Philpot in an interview with "I've never met anyone who didn't need help with homework that they don't have time for."

A total of 26 different service categories are offered via TaskRabbit. The platform has so far been active in the USA, Canada, England and France. Several German cities and regions are to be added from November 2019. Berlin and the surrounding area as well as the Rhine-Ruhr area make the start. TaskRabbit has been part of the Ikea Group since 2017.

Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon - the "gig economy" is booming

The furniture store chain wants to integrate the service into its online shop. At the end of the ordering process, customers can then not only apply for home delivery, but also find a craftsman to do the assembly right away. The service should also be available in some branches. TaskRabbit only acts as a recruiter. The employees - the company calls them "Taskers" - are self-employed who have registered on the platform and are hoping for jobs.

The principle is already known from other areas. The ridesharing app Uber and the delivery service Deliveroo also employ freelance drivers who receive orders via app. With its Amazon Flex program, Amazon advertises people who drive out parcels in their private cars in their free time in order to earn some extra money.

Taskers try to "make ends meet"

Such mini-jobs on demand - experts speak of the "gig economy" - promise full flexibility. "The advantage of TaskRabbit is that you can decide for yourself when, where and how you want to work," says Brown-Philpot.

TaskRabbit is therefore particularly valued by students and retirees who want to increase their income. But other people who "try to make ends meet" also turn to the platform, according to the TaskRabbit boss. "These users may already have a job, but they don't have enough money to meet their needs." TaskRabbit offers such people an additional source of income. Some even made odd jobs their main occupation. However, Brown-Philpot could not say what average earnings the "Taskers" earn per month.

Union warns of wage dumping

Critics fear that digital marketplaces like TaskRabbit could cost jobs in the long term, especially in the low-wage sector. Where previously companies with permanent employees were hired, less qualified freelancers step in more and more spontaneously and as needed. As a result, the services can be offered much cheaper.

The Verdi union, however, warns of dumping wages and poor working conditions in the "gig economy", as the mini-jobbers have to be available on call, but are usually only paid when there is actually work. You usually have to pay for and maintain your work materials - vehicle, cleaning supplies or the like - yourself. That also reduces income.

The managing director of TaskRabbit Stacy Brown-Philpot (Source: Manufacturer / TaskRabbit)

TaskRabbit pays more than the minimum wage

At TaskRabbit, the service providers set their own hourly wages. However, there is a lower limit that is above the statutory minimum wage in the respective country, explains the managing director. This is to prevent the Taskers from undercutting each other. Experience has shown that this works: In France, the average hourly wage of "Taskers" is three times the statutory minimum wage, and in the USA it is even five times, according to Brown-Philpot.

Even shipping companies that have previously worked with Ikea and deliver ordered furniture or install kitchens would not have to fear new cheap competition, as TaskRabbit does not offer these services. Instead, the platform focuses on simple activities. According to the French TaskRabbit website, setting up a desk costs between 47 and 119 euros. A move with several boxes by delivery truck is offered for less than 100 euros.

Customers fill out a form on the website describing the order. A number of possible candidates from the environment are then proposed to them, from which they can choose. Background checks and user reviews are intended to ensure that the quality of service is right. Brown-Philpot assures us that all "Taskers" are checked for their skills and trustworthiness. The payment should be processed via the app in order to prevent undeclared work and fraud.

According to its own information, TaskRabbit brokered more than 1.3 million tasks in the current financial year. In order for customers in Germany to be able to find a suitable "tasker" for their task at any time, the platform has to recruit enough workers before the start of Germany. To this end, several information events are planned for interested users in the coming months. Future "Taskers" can apply now by registering on the platform.