If you want something doing, then don't do it yourself
From renewing your passport to walking your dog, the services that have sprung up for people in a hurry
Sunday 25 February 2007
"So much to do, so little time." For those who live life at a million miles an hour, many tasks don't seem to fit into their day. And the temptation is there to pass them on to someone else.
Until recently, the only real outlet for this was the "concierge" services offered by credit card companies, which, for example, would book concert tickets on your behalf. But now a new breed of personal services has sprung up to master the minutiae of modern life for you. For a price, these firms, or one-man bands, will do nearly everything from sorting your wireless broadband and renewing your passport, to walking your dog and finding the right shoes for a party.
While it's not usually cheap, the time-poor but cash-rich are increasingly prepared to throw fistfuls of notes at someone else to sort out a problem.
Here are some of the 21st-century services on offer.
Doing the DIY
Getting someone in - or "GSI" - was widely blamed by DIY chains last year for a slump in sales, as homeowners laid down their hammers.
It used to be hard, and expensive, to find a handyman at short notice, but a growth in small DIY firms has changed this. A company called 0800handyman ( 0800handyman.co.uk) charges £20 per half hour, on top of a £20 callout fee. Established in 2001, the team of workmen do odd jobs in London and the South-east such as fixing, decorating, basic plumbing and electrical work.
The handymen aren't registered with any industry bodies, but they do undergo a rigorous interview process. "We offer a satisfaction guarantee, and if customers are not happy, we'll put things right," says managing director Bruce Greig. The firm carries £2m of public liability insurance.
Other firms include Handyman Express ( handymanexpress.co.uk), the Handy Squad ( handy-squad.com) and Fearless Mike ( fearlessmike.com), which delivers and assembles furniture from flat-pack retailer Ikea.
There is a delivery charge at Fearless Mike - starting at £25 (excluding VAT) for goods worth up to £100 but rising to £90 - and one workman costs £30 an hour.
With all these services, you should ask for references, shop around for quotes and find out whether the workmen belong to a trade association.
Also check if they have insurance - and who you can complain to if the job goes wrong.
In the office, you can simply call IT for help. But what do you do when your personal computer at home breaks down?
So far your solution might have been to turn to impenetrable instructions or a pricey helpline, or simply to shout a stream of expletives. But there are now more constructive alternatives.
Scooter Computer ( scootercomputer.co.uk) charges £69 for the first hour, and the same per hour after that; there's no callout charge. Technicians are on call, on motorbikes, seven days a week and cover central and south-west London.
The service, set up just over a year ago, is aimed at "improving users' IT experience without the stress".
"We get calls on broadband connections, computers that won't start and emails not sending," says manager Dan Haysom.
Scooter also provides data backups, disaster recovery, the transfer of CD music to iPods, virus protection, and even computer lessons at £55 an hour.
Other services include Geeks on Wheels ( geeks-on-wheels.com).
Call the concierge
Most concierge services will consider almost any task - as long as it's legal and moral.
You can pay on a one-off basis by the hour but most require a joining fee and a monthly subscription. And some of the more exclusive concierge services are by invitation only.
Consider it Done ( consider-it-done.co.uk) has a one-off £255 joining fee and a monthly subscription of £295, for which you receive up to eight hours' service per month.
"Every client gets their own 'lifestyle manager' who works through their chores - getting a washing machine mended, a passport renewed or waiting on hold for tickets," says managing director Sue Reeve.
Quintessentially ( quintessentially.com) has three different levels of membership starting at £750 a year for "general", and rising to a remarkable £24,000 a year for "elite" (by invitation only and usually for celebrities).
Launched in 2000, it gives members access to a host of time-saving services, such as where to find presents or a good nanny. It can also book clients into the best restaurants, health clubs, concerts, plays, sporting events and nightclubs.
Walking the dog
You can find these services in most parts of the UK. For example, Middlesex-based Mutley Crew ( mutleycrew.co.uk mutleycrew.co.uk) offers a "range of personalised services", including dog-sitting, boarding, dog walking and a pet taxi. It costs from £18 per day for sitting, while dog walking starts at £8 per one-hour walk. The company is fully insured and a member of the National Association of Registered Petsitters.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 3 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
- 4 North Korean officials 'publicly executed for watching South Korean soap operas'
- 5 Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Nigel Farage and Frankie Boyle clash over Andrew Lawrence's 'Mock the Week' criticism
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...
£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...
£45,000 - £65,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is a well-known APAC Corporate and...
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
Day In a Page
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000