Craigslist and Kijiji are two services I use as part of my job search. Even with my move plans underway, I’m still posting “Looking For Work” ads, the only difference now is that I’m using the Kitchener section instead of Toronto.
I didn’t want to use any of the services, however, to deal with a problem that suddenly sprung up during my moving plans: the removal of my carpet. Hold on, though: I’m getting ahead of myself.
When I moved into the neighbourhood 24 years ago, I wanted wall-to-wall carpeting to protect the floor underneath. Because I added this to my apartment, I am under instructions by my landlord to remove the carpet before I leave.
Since it was the company that I bought the carpeting from that also did the installation, I had no idea how the carpet was put in. This also meant I had no idea how to remove it, and when you are someone like myself who was pathetic at wood-shop class in junior high school, that just adds to my little ignorance problem. Nevertheless, I still had to find out how to remove it or get charged by my landlord if they have to hire someone to remove it.
I asked my brother and brother-in-law for some advice on how to remove the carpeting, since they are both well-skilled at carpentry. They both assured me it would be very easy to remove, since it’s all about tearing out a series of guide nails holding it in place and cutting the carpet into easy to manage strips that could be bundled and hauled off to the disposal area later. As I was about to find out, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.
I’m not sure if it was because I already voided the warranty my back and shoulders once had before my two-day assault on the wall-paper in the bathroom (something else I had to remove, but a tale for another time!), but I could not tear the carpet free from the piranha’s mouth of wooden nails holding it to a wooden block that was in turn nailed to the floor. The only thing that the crowbar I was using managed to tear was my protective glove and a good gash of skin from my left hand’s ring finger.
Clearly I was not up to the task, but as I said at the beginning, I didn’t want to go to Craigslist or Kijiji to post an ad there. There are stories of people getting scammed for work nor being done properly if at all, and in some cases far worse. I remember reading something in the free newspaper Metro about a web site called AskForTask where you can ask for something to be done with a description and an asking fee, and once you review a few people’s bids, assign the person you want, and once you are satisfied and pay the person, mark the task as complete with a review. I liked what AskForTask had going for it because it was better policed than Craigslist and Kijiji, plus, registration through an existing Facebook account was available. That opinion was going to change over the span of two days.
The task I filled out last Sunday (October 20) described what I wanted was a metred out removal of carpet over a few days, instead of all at once, because my apartment is still full of bins and emptied out drawers and cupboards. I had formatted the ad to show how my apartment was broken down into areas using a tab-delimited grid showing the area name, size in square feet, and cost I was willing to pay for each area. The grand total for four areas in my apartment was $200: a fair cost considering I just needed someone with better shoulders and arms than what I had to remove the carpet. The way AskForTask formatted the text once entered made that difficult since it did not allow blank lines between paragraphs and tab delimited columns, so I had to manually twiddle with the text a bit to at least make my ad understandable.
Once that was done, I went to bed and on Monday morning I found some bids to my task. I ignored those people who did not put up a picture of themselves and did not have a fully verified ad (meaning Facebook verified, PayPal verified, mobile verified and portrait verified). One person, who we will call Rudy, stated n a private message to me that he was interested in doing all four areas for $200. I asked him if he had previous experience with this, and he replied that he had “experience removing/installing carpets, tiles and flooring. 2 years with a private contracter (sic).” Sounds encouraging! Not sure how I can verify his experience but he seems to have an honest face and he was pretty close to fully verified. I told him that I would be interested in meeting with him at a coffee shop to work out a schedule of how to remove the carpet in each area once he put in a bid, since he just private messaged me but not bidded. When he did bid, he put down $225.
Whoa, what? I clearly said, and Rudy stated, the carpet can be removed in all 4 areas for $200, and he now wants $225? I private messaged him back through the open task that the maximum was $200 and I could not change that. A few hours later, I got a call from someone at AskForTask who serves as overseers for the bids. He informed me that Rudy was waiting for my reply. I told that person that I wanted Rudy to change his bid to the originally agreed to $200 or he was not going to be assigned. The response back from one of the overseers was surprising: Rudy has to pay 12.5% back to AskForTask for any money earned completing a task. 12,5% of $200 is $25, so Rudy figured — rather rudely and incorrectly — that it would be okay to pass that charge back to me. one who is currently unemployed and is losing his apartment because he cannot afford to live there.
What unmitigated gall. I explained to the overseer on the phone that $200 is $200 and it will not change. He said he would speak to Rudy to change his bid. When Rudy changed his bid, I assigned him the task, but told Rudy in a private message to contact me at my telephone number supplied to arrange a time on Wednesday to meet at a Tim Horton’s up the street to work out the fine details.
I never heard from him again. He did not answer my repeated private messages, nor called me over the telephone. At 10:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, I told Rudy he was out of the job (probably the closest I ever came to actually firing someone in my life), and would post 4 new bids, one for each area of my apartment that had carpeting I wanted removed. I figured this way by separating my work into smaller subtasks that even if another Rudy came along, there may be others working the other tasks that would at least complete what I wanted. I tried to delete the original task that Rudy was assigned to and found there is no delete option. Terrific. I asked in the customer service form link on the website to have someone delete the original task and let the new 4 tasks do what they needed to do. When I woke up Wednesday morning, someone quickly responded to my request, but it was a shame they deleted the 4 new tasks and left the original assigned task alone.
At this point, I have had enough. I went on both Craigslist and Kijiji to post an ad in the Toronto section for someone to remove my carpeting for $200. I received over 70 replies in under two hours, and was able to whittle it down to one person who actually sent me a résumé, complete with references, of his past experience in this sort of work. I was sold. I asked him to come over, size up my apartment, and we both agreed to the schedule and cost. He’s already removed the hallway carpeting and will work on the dining room carpeting on Thursday. With luck, the carpeting will be gone by the middle of next week if his schedule permits.
I’m not writing this to slam AskForTask for the debacle I went through. There’s some blame there for them, but Rudy deserves the lion’s share of it for not calling me back. When an overseer called me back today — 12 hours after I reported through a customer service form that my four tasks were deleted instead of the original one — he apologized and took ownership. But it just goes to show that what might sound good in a newspaper article in fact needs some time to work out the bugs and mature into something that is both effective for those looking for work and the people who assign tasks to them to make that possible. For now, I do not feel in my personal opinion that it’s the way to go to find steady reliable work based on what I experienced from the web page interface to the professionalism of the community there.
As for whether I will use AskForTask again, my final customer service form entry says it all:
Can you please cancel my account on AskForTask? I do not see an option to remove myself from your service.
Thanks for reading!