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TaskRabbit users revolt as the company shuts down its bidding system

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Updated 6:56 p.m. ET with additional comments from TaskRabbit. View the original version here. Updated: July 11 with statements from additional contractors.

TaskRabbit‘s pivot has left some of its contractors furious, disappointed, and out of work.

Earlier today task-outsourcing site TaskRabbit killed its bidding system for random tasks, and replaced it with an on-demand service for requesting services with fixed fees: cleaning, handiwork, moving, and errands. As we wrote earlier, TaskRabbit announced the change last month to ease the transition among the service’s users.

With the destruction of the bidding service, TaskRabbit has ushered in fixed hourly rates for tasks. Food deliveries, for example, start at $10 per hour. Previously, if a TaskRabbit user wanted food delivered, they had to post the job on the service and await bids from TaskRabbit contractors.

We asked TaskRabbit if there was any pushback over the changes. TaskRabbit founder and chief Leah Busque offered us a blunt response: “Not at all. We just spent a week around the country talking to our TaskRabbit community. The Taskers doing this as a full-time job are excited.”

But TaskRabbit’s private bulletin board says otherwise.

Messages from the bulletin board [below] reveal backlash among a group of contractors, particularly regarding the way TaskRabbit has communicated its new direction.

One long-term contractor attempted to petition against the changes, and subsequently had their forum account suspended, according to images shared with VentureBeat.

When asked if any contractors have been banned for speaking out against the changes, a TaskRabbit spokesperson issued a firm denial: “Of course not.”

Later, TaskRabbit clarified to VentureBeat that no user was denied access to the TaskRabbit product for protesting the change — they were only suspended from the company’s forums.

TaskRabbit claims this user was suspended “for inappropriate and threatening comments, not for her feedback on the product.”

The TaskRabbit contractor in question tells VentureBeat that this “threatening” behavior involved saying that users should talk “to the press, to our friends, and to clients.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 7.59.51 PM

Vocal dissent

TaskRabbit’s major product changes have certainly proved disruptive for some, but it’s unclear how widespread the discontent is.

What’s clear is that some people are very upset about the change, and they’re quite vocal about it.

Later, TaskRabbit told VentureBeat that “the vast majority of taskers are fully behind the change. It’s a small minority who aren’t supportive of the move.”

The TaskRabbit contractor experience has been under fire before — as profiled by Fast Company and Business Week — yet in an interview with VentureBeat, one aggrieved contractor who has been with the company for over a year told us they loved the old TaskRabbit.

“I was totally loyal to it and believed it was changing the world,” said the contractor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Here’s more from that contractor (emphasis added by VentureBeat):

It’s really upsetting how they’re dealing with this. They told us the system was changing, and then wouldn’t even talk to us. I feel like we were giving them the opportunity to do that. Because I’m elite [a high status among contractors], I’m supposed to be able to talk to people there, but it didn’t happen smoothly. The company was very defensive.

I can understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s how they dealt with it.

A second TaskRabbit contractor told VentureBeat by phone that outrage is wide-spread (emphasis: VentureBeat).

There have been nothing but complaints since they announced it. I haven’t seen a single TaskRabbit comment on it positively. I’m sure there are some TaskRabbits out there that don’t mind this switch for whatever reason. But there are a lot of people that aren’t happy about this. There are a lot of people, including myself, that have asked about this. They don’t have an answer. They say that it’s better for us, because we don’t have to waste our time bidding, but that’s what we like about this application; we can pick and choose what tasks we take.

VentureBeat’s second source went on to say the change only benefits TaskRabbit:

In the previous two days, I’ve easily picked up five tasks by applying for them. Now I haven’t gotten any applications. I haven’t gotten any notifications. Usually I’d get a task a day at least. But now it’s not working that way.

They took all the free enterprise and pretty much anything that was good out of the application. Any job you do is different. Any task is different. Right now they want me to put a price on every assembly job, but there are different jobs.

Official response

A TaskRabbit spokesperson addressed the commotion in an email to VentureBeat, admitting that “with any product change this significant, it would be impossible to satisfy the requests of every member of the community.” Nearly 30,000 contractors use TaskRabbit to find work, TaskRabbit tells us (emphasis added):

As Leah mentioned, the vast majority of our most active taskers are pleased with the changes as it makes building their business simpler.

Additionally, these changes were made to cater to the needs of both sides of our marketplace. As we told you, we have millions of clients, so when balancing the needs of that many constituents, getting 100% satisfaction is unrealistic.

The only thing I’ll add is that well continue to enhance and evolve this product to continue to fit the needs of our community, as we always have.

VentureBeat’s sources claim they’ve been asked not to post complaints on the TaskRabbit forum. According to one Twitter user, the forums have since been taken down completely.

“We’re the employees. We’re the people who keep your company moving,” one contractor for TaskRabbit told VentureBeat by phone.

“Without us, you’re just an empty app on a phone. I don’t understand why they don’t listen to us.”

Numerous additional contractors later reached out with similar complaints after this story was published.

A TaskRabbit spokesperson later told VentureBeat that “all users were given numerous chances to discuss the new changes with TaskRabbit.”

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62 comments
james names
james names

Each article about the new taskrabbit keeps neglecting to mention the most despicable offense - they've removed the option for task posters to include a tip to the workers when closing out the task online. Leah is outright lying if she truly believes a single taskrabbit is in favor of this Taskrabbit removed the tipping feature because whereas they take a percentage of the final cost of the job, they couldn't take any part of the gratuity. At the announcement for the workers in NYC, there was a major uproar at all four meetings. It adds to the offensive nature that Leah is claiming most Taskrabbits are in favor of this new regime.

K T
K T

I'm so angry I just want to cry. The new platform has been stressing me out greatly. I was depending on TaskRabbit to pay my bills, and now I'm scrapping the floor for pennies. I'm going to be homeless soon, but Leah Busque will be just fine in her fancy house. Did I mention I'm a TaskRabbit Elite and used to love it? This is the most irresponsible and heartless thing you could have done. Thousands of people were relying on you for their income. I hope you feel good about yourself while sipping your glass of wine in a nice trendy restaurant.


Also, it's funny how TaskRabbit used to be about "neighbors helping neighbors." But now, we're not neighbors anymore. We're "clients" or "taskers." Society classes are always favorable.

rose matheny
rose matheny

This takes the 'self' out of self-employed.  Clearly, TaskRabbit did not do it's homework.  Those of us who sign up to become a 'Tasker' are not in the position to sit around and wait for a potentially good or bad fit 'task' to show up on our smartphones.  We are the kind of people that go to school, that have two jobs or more, that are actively reading, and searching, that need extra income for our families, that have to switch off child care with our spouses,...etc. We are definitely not the kind of people that sit around and wait for something to fall into our laps.  If TaskRabbits objective was to start anew, congratulations you just succeeded in weeding out the old.  


You killed the efficacy of your model, by replacing it with one that shows complete disregard for the people that helped you build it.  However frustrated I may be, thank you for the opportunity when it was there.  Peace out!  

dan castillo
dan castillo

Call a spade a spade. Last year when @Taskrabbit raised their fees to 25% (your bid x 25% = 20% of the total) they blew themselves out of the market. They immediately opened the floodgates to new rabbits. Now they have have fewer bids per item and more rabbits than ever. They also have more unrealistic tasks. 


Their solution is to revise their NICHE to what works (errand tasks) and fix pricing so they control the markup. The solution leaves the customer and the rabbit completely OUT of the selection process. It lowered the average wage after it encouraged us to bid realistically.


The result from this new flood gate of rabbits being ousted will leave a sting in the name TASKRABBIT forever. It took me a few days to contact all my clients, but unanimously they are so confused, confounded and UNTRUSTING of the system in place.


Right or wrong. An online service CANNOT survive if it cannot maintain TRUST. I wish the decisions makers well, but I don't see the TRUST in this decision at all. This has Elmer Fud written all over it.

Robin Teller
Robin Teller

There are other new players in the market similar to TaskRabbit that are much more flexible and still allow you to view and bid for jobs. 


I've just signed up for JobRunners which is launching its services in the NYC area this month. This one is great as it also supports local charities. Check it out @ www.job-runners.com

Jim Frey
Jim Frey

My wife hasn't received one task in 5 days! As they said in the old days, "The rabbit died."

Josh Stevens
Josh Stevens

The new system sucks.  The old system allowed for ad-hoc and time-sensitive tasking, true PA work. The new system fails at that. Just hired a courier for the first time in 2 years because I could not search and find what Taskrabbit(s) were available for a time sensitive task in the next 4 hours.  Taskrabbit #Fail. Courier #win.

od rabbit
od rabbit

We need need a new solution for open bidding for small tasks. One were YOU the employees and clients decide what jobs YOU want and the people YOU want to work with. Come share your ideas at @Tiredoftaskrabbit. 


This is not slam fest. We need a better solution and people to build it.

Nancy Green
Nancy Green

I've been a task runner for over 2 years now. I usually do 5-10 tasks a week, at my leisure, depending on my schedule. Since the new platform rolled out a few days ago, I haven't received one task. This is utterly ridiculous. 

Sandra Naidich
Sandra Naidich

I've been a rabbit for a little over 2 months now and was using it as supplemental income.  The new app has destroyed the entire experience of TaskRabbit and made it difficult for the clients and near useless for a lot of the rabbits.  The rabbits took to the company's forums to make their issues heard, but TaskRabbit has been deleting posts.  The deletions have nothing to do with threats, violence, or language.  We receive notification emails showing what any new message said, but when you go to the forum certain posts aren't there anymore.  TaskRabbit has also been contacting vocal critics directly and attempting to "answer" their questions.  Unfortunately they don't actually answer any questions or address any issues.  And on top of the utter destruction of the business model and the way they're treating the rabbits on the forums the app doesn't even work properly!

Task Robbed
Task Robbed

Leah Busque: “Not at all. We just spent a week around the country talking to our TaskRabbit community. The Taskers doing this as a full-time job are excited.”


Talk about drinking the coolaid.  What a TaskHole!  I can't wait for what she dreams up the next time she's too lazy to get her own dog some food.

pat pat
pat pat

I've been working at a TR for about a year.   I have an excellent rating.  I really enjoyed being able to review what was posted as a task and match my skills to it.  I received emails constantly about task that were posted.  After I would complete a task I could look at the map section of the TR site and see who needed help in the area that I was in and help another client with there task. I was working everyday for the past 2 weeks because I had the time to do so.  Earlier, I would work when I had some extra time.  After pivot was launched I do not receive anything.  It's just gone dark.  I went to the TR site and looked to hire a TR to see if I would even come up as a potential TR, entered my zip code and 4 people showed up.  I was not one of them.  I changed the zip code and searched again and the same 4 people showed up.  I entered another zip and 6 people showed up, the same 4 plus 2 newer ones.  I didn't show up in any of the searches.  Not sure of the logic for Task Rabbit's change to pivot.  I'm all for change if it makes sense for your business.  But to understand this one, I need more data to be on board with it.  From my vantage point now, it just sucks!

NO ACCOUNT NO ACCOUNT
NO ACCOUNT NO ACCOUNT

wow yeah taskrabbits changes are simply horrible. glad theyre getting the bad press. 

Gayle L. McDowell
Gayle L. McDowell

As a client, this change is pretty terrible. 


1. It's MUCH harder to find someone who's available. I get 15 options - that's it - and they aren't filtered for availability. I have to manually go 2 or 3 levels deep in clicks to see availability. And then, if someone's listed availability matches what I need, I need to send a booking request - but that person is probably not available either. Just because someone LISTS their time as available doesn't mean they actually are.


2. It's MUCH harder to find someone who has the skills/resources to do the task. Suppose I needed someone to replace some tall lightbulbs and a ladder is needed. I have no way of knowing if someone has a ladder without booking them. I have no idea of knowing if someone has the skills to do the job. (Plus, they might not want to do the job.)


The only way I can figure this pivot is that it was based around a subset of tasks that are very low skilled (pick up/delivery) and where time is totally flexible. But... how many tasks really fit both of those criteria?


Further thoughts here: http://qr.ae/ARHp5

Scherazade Sohrabji
Scherazade Sohrabji

I have no problem with organizations attempting to become more profitable by changing, pivoting, shifting focus, whatever they and their investors decide they need to do. However, TaskRabbit let their Taskers down today. We knew the launch was imminent, but did not know the date. Our questions went unanswered, concerns unheard. There was almost no communication at all. 


We were told the new app would launch in late July. Today, it all changed. We no longer have access to our historical records, our billing data, and for those like me who have built a thriving business, our whole business model has changed as well. I no longer have the ability to bill my client base unless I accept the highly intrusive terms on their buggy, unreliable, highly unprofessional mobile only app. Of course, I do not have to accept the terms -- I do not. As such, I have no choice but to take myself and my clients off TaskRabbit.


Leah Busque never wanted to build a community of proactive, professional entrepreneurs. That happened despite her. All she wanted was for some poor schlep to deliver her dog food as soon and as cheaply as possible.  She got what she wanted. Sadly, it could have been so much more.


Anyone else feel like we are being Suckerberged in some giant social experiment?

Howard Yellen
Howard Yellen

Total Cluster-F$ck! I'm disabled. I just tried to post for someone to pick up the 2 bags of dog food I need monthly. Problem is, food is at Costco. No way to specify that you need someone with a Costco Card. Or if you were looking for a painter, that they have a ladder. Or if you were looking for someone to mow your lawn, that they had a freakin lawn mower.  From the user perspective (I've used maybe 20 times and was increasingly relying on it) the new system makes many categories of jobs essentially unassignable. Before I loved posting job, comparing offers and qualifications and doing deal.  Apparently the most popular task on Task Rabbit in SF was picking up bread/pastries from Tartine Bakery. The market had worked out a reasonable price for this. Now, I never hired that task (not in the "go buy my almond criossante" demographic I guess) but I can't see anyone doing that anymore either. "Ok, "ll pay $25 an hour for an undetermined number of hours for you to go and pick up $20 in baked goods for me."  I don't know where people are starting from. Do they walk, use Muni, ride a bike, use a scooter....how can I know how long it will take them to do the task? So one time my almond delectable will cost me $10 for delivery and another time $40?  I really don't know why these changes were implemented. If the concern is people working for less than minimum, there has to be a way to ensure fairness without breaking the whole freaking system. Like they could say "The minimum bid for this task "almond criosannte" is $15 so there isn't a race to the bottom.


Bah.


Humbug.


No soup for you.


No food for my dogs.


No Task Rabbit for the forseeable fture.

elaina mercury
elaina mercury

 As someone who's been making a decent living, and enjoying it, with Task Rabbit for about two years in the New York area, I am furious! They've essentially pulled the plug on a highly functioning system. I am NOT the cheapest bidder, and I got plenty of work that I wanted to do, because I have experience and the reviews to prove my skills. Since the change, absolutely no work. I also bid based on the job and distance, there is no such thing as one hourly rate for everything. I prefer a flat rate, which is not possible anymore. Let me assure you I am not alone. We will be leaving Task Rabbit in droves very shortly if they don't reinstate the old system. It's incredibly sad to see a functioning system literally commit suicide and implode.


WTF were they thinking? This does not benefit anyone. Another thing Task Rabbit changed was the 20% fee, which was formerly paid by the task poster, is NOW TAKEN OUT OF OUR HOURLY RATE. Sorry for yelling, but we got no warning whatsoever that WE are now paying for the "privilege" of running tasks! 


You've got to be kidding. Total surprise.


As I said, we are just about out of here. I speak for many, many, many people. There are private boards where we've been discussing this in depth, and NO ONE is remotely happy with it. Leah Busque is completely delusional and full of shit. 

Jennifer Antelman
Jennifer Antelman

I used to love working as a TaskRabbit until I got a full time job then I was a task-poster. With this new system it's very frustrating. I'm locked into windows when tasks can be done with hopes that the TaskRabbit I select will take it. I've tried over 6 times and they don't take the task. Then if the time comes too close to when you want the task done you can't even post for it. This seems very TaskRabbit-centric instead of Task-Poster centric. I would have had someone do the task by now and I didn't get a notification from TaskRabbit that they'd find someone for my task until the time had already past when I wanted the task done. This new format is miserable.

Charles Morales
Charles Morales

I am furious with the change. especially that th "average price" for certain jobs is serverly under paid. I am an IT consultant, and it is not worth 14 dollars an hour to travel to someone home for one hour of work. Especially when any company will charge 100 an hour for an onsite. 


If i travel to a location, it take me one hour, then one hour on-site, then one hour back to travle. Divide 14 by 3 hours.....that is less than minimum wage. 


The bidding system is what made task rabbit unique, it made it diverse with competition.


AFTER MY NEXT TASK WHICH I HAVE ALREADY AGREED TO DO, I WILL BE SERIOUSLY RETHINKING MY USE OF TASKRABBIT OR RECOMMENDING IT TO ANYONE. 


up to this point, I recommended taskrabbit to everyone i saw, friends, lyft drivers, cashiers etc. 


!NO MORE!

Info ownforce
Info ownforce

Check out OwnForce.com  -   you can bid on tasks there.

Taylor Tyme
Taylor Tyme

There is an underused subreddit for taskrabbit that maybe could be used to gather opinions: http://www.reddit.com/r/TaskRabbit/  (I'm not the moderator, just stumbled upon it- it's been helpful to have a subreddit for Uber drivers so maybe it will be good for Taskrabbit) 

Tamara Altman
Tamara Altman

i talked with at least two very unhappy clients.  one of mine had someone automatically assigned to her (without her approval)...he was new, no tasks completed yet, someone she never would have let into her home... and TR gave him her address! where she lives w/her kids! she was very very very unhappy. and guess what? TR responded to her in a similar tone as their responses to us rabbits...very cavalier and not really hearing the gravity of the situation. something is very wrong.

Jordan Maddocks
Jordan Maddocks

Go ask designers how much they like the bidding war on places like 99 designs. It's a piss poor way of electing people to do a job. Why? because it drives people to lower the price when the price is not what determines a quality worker. I would much rather hire a contractor that is reviewed highly by the community and pay them what their advertised rate is. End of story! Bidding is ridiculous and make us look like savages!

Jason Leman
Jason Leman

I was a runner, had been for 2 plus years, loved it as I got to see the bay area from my car (specialized in long distance deliveries).  I HATE IT!  their private facebook group is blowing up with pissed users.


I cant make money at their new structure, and unless I am glued to my phone, I lose out.  (and I used to make a good living at this).  I have already applied for a better courier service and am encouraging all pissed rabbits to do the same

Tara Hamm
Tara Hamm

wow, this is surprising I have been working for them for a month!

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez

If more of the Task Posters speak up it should make all the difference.  They seem to care less about the Taskers themselves. I'm not going to post a task and be given crappy options as to who can take on my task.   I've gotten responses from Taskers who aren't even interested in my tasks, yet are being recommended?.  I'd rather have bidders which I can choose from.    Neighbors helping Neighbors my arse.

Andrew Glass III
Andrew Glass III

New startup plan. Bid based tasks? Who's with me. TaskBuddy FTW

P Anon
P Anon

@Jennifer Antelman As a taskrabbit, I can tell you that the new app is not taskrabbit centric.  It in neither taskrabbit centric nor task poster centric.  Good job TR!

Gayle L. McDowell
Gayle L. McDowell

First, 99designs has no bidding war around prices. The client sets a flat price. The designers enter a contest and are selected based on their actual quality.


Second, TaskRabbit's pivot actually pushes a price war *much* more than the old system did. 

- Reviews are basically junk. Everyone has positive reviews. They don't mean anything.

- I am given no information on quality or if they can complete the task. I don't even know that they're *available.* If I need them to bring tools (like a tall ladder), I won't know.

- The ONLY information I have is really their picture, name, and price. Guess what? That's going to make people filter on picture (i.e., race, gender and age) and price.


Before, I frequently hired the more expensive tasker. I wanted the person who could get the job done well, and that's often not the cheapest person.


Now, with little other information, I'm strongly encouraged to just pick based on price or, even worse, picture (-> stereotyping on race, gender, and age).

Michael Neel
Michael Neel

Andrew, how serious are you about developing a task rabbit competitor? I have already purchased a domain name and I am currently assembling a team. Thoughts?

D B
D B

@Michael Neel 

Hey Michael, I hope you're very serious about this post. Are you in the bay area?

Michael Neel
Michael Neel

@D B @Michael Neel  DB I am not in the bay area. ..  Austin , Texas here.  I am very serious about this.  Starting a kick starter campaign soon to gain capitol for web development.  Ideally ,  since we have made a strong community of talented rabbits we should be able to work together and create something special!