SCENE: Our heroine sits at home on a brisk, June evening as one can only experience in San Francisco. We find her curled up in her softest blanket, her nose in a book. She is possibly the last person on the planet to read the Hunger Games; hustling her way through it so she can begin Snow Crash. She pauses and looks up from her book. She’s eaten dinner but needs a little something more. An smile spreads across her face as she comes upon what would make her happy in this moment: Bi-Rite ice cream. Specifically, a single sugar cone, both scoops of mint chocolate chip. But what to do? Our heroine is so cozy and warm at home! Why would she leave? And for ice cream on such a chilly evening? Twitter to the rescue!
Who wants to bring me some ice cream from Bi-Rite? I'll be your best friend!—
Leslie Hitchcock (@LSH) June 07, 2012
She gives it a few minutes. Naturally no one responds. Well, crap. That didn’t work! Looks like she’s walking the few blocks to happiness in a cone. There are worse things than an evening constitutional. END SCENE.
But it didn’t end there! After I got my ice cream and happily walked home, I checked Twitter. I had a reply to my tweet directing me to the Postmates app. The Postmates app! Of course! How silly of me to forget them.
Postmates, a former TechCrunch Disrupt finalist, officially launched in December. When they opened up their beta back in February, I was an initial user. They held a really fun promotion where you could send chocolates to a special someone for free on Valentines Day. (I sent mine to myself, because I’m “someone special” too!) After the initial rush, I kind of forgot about them — but not anymore!
Rather than chancing a melted ice cream delivery, I opted to test Postmates with a lunch delivery to the TechCrunch office. Because I was famished, bossy and we were using my account, I got to choose the restaurant: Holy Grill, an awesome hamburger joint down the street from us. Documenting the whole experience like the good amateur tech blogger I am, I can say that Postmates makes paying someone to do a task for you really simple.
Using your location, Postmates determines what’s around you for potential deliveries. Since we were ordering lunch, I had something specific in mind, but their Foursquare integration helps provide options for the non-bossy lunch needs. One drawback is that Postmate deliveries are limited to five items. I completely understand why, but that means that you can’t just have them buy your groceries for the week. This service seems best tailored to small errands that a busy San Franciscan might not have time to handle. UPDATE: Postmates informs me that you can now request more than five items. Good to know!
Throughout the order process, Postmates keeps you apprised of the progress through text, the app and their website. Since the app is so handy, I’m going to investigate a way to turn off text notifications. Seems like overkill to use both, but that could just be me being (hungry and therefore) ornery. Once you submit, Postmates locates a delivery person for you and once he/she is found, sends you their information. Courier Alex graciously accepted our lunch order and we eagerly watched his progress from the Outer Mission to SOMA on our quest. This is Alex upon delivery. He was really nice!
As you’d assume, there are various fees and charges tacked onto the delivery and they seem fairly reasonable. A delivery by the hour charge (which is part of how their couriers get compensated), a purchase fee and a tip. All in all, for this particular order it was about $15 more expensive than if we’d walked down and gotten it ourselves. Is that reasonable? Depends on your definition. TechCrunch reported that Postmate users are spending $100+ a month on the service. Seeing as how lunch for four people with the fees was almost $50, I can easily see how that happens.
I’m not sure how often I’ll be using Postmates, but I do have visions of errand running to Sephora or Kiehl’s when I don’t have the time. Seems like it will be useful in that way and since those errands are put off until I’m desperate, it will be something I’d pay extra for. But for evening ice cream deliveries, I will still stick to asking someone on Twitter and then having a lovely walk by myself complete with a cone.