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

"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.

Computer chaos

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.

Other services include Ten Lifestyle Management ( tenuk.com), Concierge London ( concierge-london.co.uk) and Cushion the Impact ( cushiontheimpact.co.uk).

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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Stockbroker

    £Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

    £20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence