How many times have you spent two hours googling and researching for something, got distracted in the process and took a long detour through blogs and websites only to end up with ground zero again? I’ve been very intrigued by virtual assistant services and wanted to try one for a while. A month ago I signed up for FancyHands, a virtual assistant service, based out of New York. Here’s the deal: For $25/month (that’s one week of Starbucks for many of you!), you get five requests and no time limit per-request. There are no sign-up or cancellation fees and is pay as you go. Here are my first five requests to FancyHands.
1. Order Contact Lenses
I know you can go waste hours have fun navigating the map-less terrain of Costco, but I’m lazy and this was the perfect excuse to try out FancyHands. I fired off the following email to them:
Please order 3-boxes of 90 contact lenses (in each box) and have it be shipped to my home address so that it arrives before Friday. I’m beginning my travel on that date and would like to get my lenses before that. Brand: 1-day Acuvue Moist (With Lacreon). Find the best price you can and in case there’s a better price for ordering more boxes, let me know and I can revise my order. Attached is a picture of my prescription.
A couple of emails back and forth later, voilá! They set me up with an account at Walgreens, got me a box of my lenses at a pretty awesome price and had it delivered to my home on time. Time I spent on emails? 5 minutes.
2. Book a transit hotel in Singapore
I was flying to India and had a 6-hour layover in Singapore. I figured might as well spend the time at the transit hotel to get some rest, washup, etc. Here’s my request:
Attached is my travel itinerary. I have a 6 hour layover in Singapore and I would like to see if it’s possible to use the transit lounge. Find out if I can use United club pass to enter the lounge (I have 4, if that makes any difference). If that’s not possible see if I can use United miles (part of the Star Alliance) to enter the transit lounge. If that doesn’t work, book me 1 block of 6 hours in the transit hotel.
Boom! I received back a detailed report of all the transit hotels in the airport, their operating hours, etc. Since my United miles didn’t work, ended up paying for the transit hotel. Time I spent on emails? 5 minutes.
3. Call AT&T on my behalf
I was in the process of porting my landline over to Ooma and got hit with a question. Do I have split-line DSL? Well, I had to call AT&T to figure that out so I could safely disconnect my phone without affecting my landline. Yeah, like I was going to be put on hold. Here’s the request:
I am thinking of porting my land line to another VoIP provider, but I need to verify that I have “stand-alone” or “dry-loop” DSL. Attached is my home address. 1. Call AT&T and verify that I can disable my land-line without disrupting my DSL. If you need additional verification information, let me know. 2. If not, find out how to decouple the land-line and the DSL and how long it would take to do this. Do they need to send people out to my home to do this or is it simply a matter of flipping a switch remotely?
A few hours later, I got a response saying that FancyHands spoke with Chris at AT&T and that I could indeed cancel my land-line without disrupting my DSL service. Perfect! Time spent listening to AT&T’s elevator music? 0 minutes.
4. Research a refrigerator to buy
I wasn’t entirely sure about this request, but hey doesn’t hurt to try right? I am in the market for a 36″ refrigerator (do you know of a good one?) and wanted some research done. Here was my request to them:
I’m in the market for a 36″ french door refrigerator with the freezer drawer(s) at the bottom. I would like you to find three best options with the attached requirements. If you need clarification on any of these, don’t hesitate to ask. 1. Send me a report comparing the top three based on these requirements. 2. Also send me links to where I can find these at a great price.
My requirements included customer reviews, price range, consumer reports rating, etc. I got back three options with summary reports, link to Sears and Home Depot as well as various consumer reports. I wasn’t entirely sure about the ROI on this one, but I’m chalking this one up to learning what a good request is.
5. Hush, hush
I could write about the last one since my wife doesn’t read my blog, 🙂 but don’t want to risk that. Anyways, something special to be delivered to her since it’s that magical red week. Time I spent on email? 2 minutes.
Virtual Assistant Services
So I’m pretty stoked by FancyHands and looking forward to seeing how else I can outsource, delegate and automate my life. I’ve yet to use the conferencing or the calendar services (free!). The Basecamp integration looks pretty slick too. Maybe next month. My one pet peeve with FancyHands is that there’s a $100 limit for each purchase, though they did mention that on a case-by-case basis they could increase this limit. One thing that I found to be effective was to take the time to spell out in detail what the request exactly was. Numbered or if-then-else format works best to avoid the back-and-forth emails. And the really hard part? Resisting the temptation to roll up my sleeve and do it myself (and waste tons of time in the process).
Do you use virtual assistant services? What do you think of FancyHands?
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