I found myself in a bit of a bind yesterday. I stepped out with plans to take a lunch break to run an errand and hit the gym, when I was greeted by the always unwelcome sound of car trouble. My battery had died..."er-errr-errr-click-click-click" dead. Making lemonade out of lemons, I used the unfortunate circumstance to test out a couple of service-based apps, since I had nowhere to go except online...
Emergency Car Service: Upon inspecting under the hood and diagnosing a drained battery, I launched AAA Mobile to automatically beckon the aid of a mobile auto battery inspection truck right to our apartment carport. The app had all my membership information, so the process eased an already stressful situation. Within 15 minutes the driver/auto technician was there to jump start my car (for free, as a member). Towing, lock-out service, and other roadside maintenance request are all also available via the app, making this a "must download" for AAA members. - Also available for download on Android.
Car Ride/Taxi Request: After my car was jump-started, I was able to get the car to the dealership to have the battery replaced. Because they estimated the battery replacement would take a few hours due to several scheduled cars ahead of mine, and since I was a walk-in, I decided to return home to finish some work. Fortunately, I live close to the car dealer and I was able to procure a ride back home, compliments of the dealership. But once the repair was finished, how was I going to get back? Lyft. The crowdsourced car ride app is perfectly suited for these type of short emergency ride requests, and in about 10 minutes I was picked up by a young actor-comedian (how appropriately LA!) who quickly drove and dropped me off at the dealership for a reasonable $9. - Lyft is also available for Android users seeking a ride.
Laundry: As an apartment dweller without on-site laundry facilities, I've been very tempted to try Washio, an app driven dry cleaning/laundry pickup request service. Currently only available in parts of Los Angeles, the service will pick up laundry from your doorstep within 30 minutes and return it back at a scheduled time. The rates: wash and fold for $1.60 per pound, laundered shirts for $2.75, dry cleaning for $5-$15, and bedding at various prices depending upon size. This laundry service could be especially helpful for the elderly or during periods when someone is ill or injured and recuperating at home.
Babysitter: A popular topic amongst friends who are parents: babysitters. Which ones they recommend, which ones they didn't like, how much they cost, and possibly most importantly, who is readily available. Urbansitter is like Lyft or Washio, but instead of a car ride or laundry service, the app puts parents in contact with potential babysitters, via website or app (here's how it works, presented visually). Parents can search by dates/times, put up job posts in advance, and leave back feedback for each sitter.
House cleaning Service: if you're a New Yorker, you can now place a request for house cleaning services any time needed using the app, Get Maid. The app guarantees arrival of a selection of vetted and insured maids within 2 hours, and all payment transactions are done automatically from the site, so no cash exchanges hands. - Also available on Android devices.
(Images: as linked above)