Our first outsourced task was mostly a success. Our next two requests were a lot simpler: check airfares to India, get quotes for car insurance.

Chelsey and I plan on taking a long trip to India this fall. Part of our trip includes some time in Bangalore, which is where the GetFriday crew is based. I informed our assistant of our approximate travel dates and requested some quotes. In this request I made two poor assumptions:

  1. That our assistant would have some kind special insider’s cheap-tickets-to-India connection.
  2. That he would assume we wanted return flights.

Rather, what we received back was a spreadsheet with a few alternative dates for one way travel, grabbed from Travelocity. In 4HWW, Tim explains the importance of being crystal clear with instructions, which would have helped #2, and I should have asked first about #1.

For our third and final task, I sent our assistant the necessary info for him to get some car insurance quotes. I included two websites (GEICO and Progressive) and two phone numbers for local agents we received referrals for. For some reason he decided to call all 4 companies, rather than using the websites where possible. One of the local referrers wouldn’t speak with him (insisting to speak directly to me) and he got ballpark quotes from the others.

Ultimately I had to run through the top two contenders myself in order to get final quotes, so I can’t say that it saved me much time.

So that brings us up to date with our VA. At this point Chelsey and I both feel that the value of having a local assistant may outweigh the increased costs associated. One issue is that we’re both too darn internet-savvy. When you look at sample lists of things a VA can do for you, they always include items like “online shopping” or “buy tickets.” But I honestly can do most of those things in almost the same amount of time that it takes me to send off a clearly-written inquiry (more on my love for Amazon, and my process for booking online travel, in future posts). For now we’ve decided to cut back to the “pay-as-you-go” plan, which jumps the hourly rate up to $15. At that price, it gets harder to justify sending quick random tasks across the pond, but we’re still going to try and make sure of it. When we do, we’ll be making quick little posts to report on how it works out.