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April 21, 2018

Amazon launches “Home Services” business, wants to give you drum lessons


Amazon

Today Amazon officially announced Amazon Home Services, a marketplace where customers can request repair work and personal lessons from service providers in their area. The concept is like TaskRabbit—services are provided by individual contractors, not Amazon, but those contractors are rated by customers and vetted by the online shopping behemoth. All services provided are backed by Amazon.

Services include banal things like assembling a bed (from $57 to $140), installing a garbage disposal ($149 to $200), setting up a wireless printer ($84 to $210), or “computer software configuration” ($120 to $210). The value proposition for Amazon Home Services is that people don’t have to call around to find a contractor and then get a quote from them—the price is listed up front. For a custom job, you’ll get a quote delivered to you after you specify the details of the job.

You can also find more whimsical things on Amazon Home Services, like drum lessons or “goat grazers”—sadly there were no master drummers or goats for hire in my area. With drum lessons (or math lessons or French lessons, all of which are listed on Amazon’s website now) buyers can get a free trial lesson and then pay for a package of further instruction through the site. If you’re hiring a goat, the price will depend on how much backyard you need it to eat.

(“Goats can eat thistle, blackberry, English Ivy, kudzu, poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, wisteria, various grasses, and more,” Amazon’s information page on that service helpfully offers. The online marketplace revolution is about to disrupt goat diets forever!)

Still, the services vary by location (good luck getting anything done in Idaho) and getting the job done is not always as easy as you might imagine. The cheapest service I could find in my area was getting windshield wipers replaced ($15 if you provide your own wiper blades). I selected that service, hoping that a team of underemployed teens/drones would descend on my vehicle within the hour. I was disappointed to learn that, despite the “Home Services” moniker, I could only get the service if I took my car in to a nearby shop—even then, I couldn’t get an appointment until Wednesday. Sorry, but I can replace my own wiper blades, after all.

Some services, like “virus and spyware removal,” will give you the option of coming in to a store that provides the service or tacking on an extra $30 to get someone to do it in your home. That makes Amazon’s computer repair services not unlike Best Buy’s Geek Squad, which has been running a similar business model for at least a decade.

I also checked out the Amazon Home Services page for tire installation. Obviously that’s a service that would be best done in a garage, but the Amazon listing didn’t offer the name of the company providing the service, so I searched for the address of the place I’d have to take my car to, and it came up with SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service in Redwood City. I contacted the owner of SpeeDee, Arun Nageal, and he said he was a part of Amazon Home Services’ beta program and has had seven or eight new customers this year because of the listing on Amazon.

“I took over this business in September of last year, and I was looking at every possible way to grow my business,” Nageal said over the phone. “Amazon coincidentally approached me and said, ‘would you be interested?’… It sounded like a good idea. I’m an Amazon user and a shopper,” he said.

He was a little bit skeptical at first, mostly because Amazon makes service providers list the fees for their services upfront. “It does make me a little bit nervous [to list prices on Amazon], but at the end of the day, you have to do pros and cons, and the con is people are going to know competitors’ prices, but at the end of the day it’s equally easy to just walk over to another shop and ask their price,” Nageal said.

He added that he wasn’t sure what percentage Amazon was taking from transactions done over its new marketplace. “The reason I need to check is I also have something with a Groupon; sometimes it’s a little muddy.”

Amazon has been looking to expand into home services for quite some time, but now that its market has launched, the featured services seem a little slim. Babysitting is not on the list, for example, although it was rumored to be one of the first things offered.

Of course, Amazon takes a cut. (The company isn’t offering details, but The Verge says a beta version of Amazon Home Services’ website showed Amazon taking 20 percent on standard services, 15 percent on custom, and 10 percent on recurring services). It’s safe to assume that the money for Amazon is in installation jobs, where a person comes out once to set up one physical object, ideally also purchased on Amazon.

Once you find a babysitter or drum teacher you like on Amazon Home Services, there’s less of a drive to keep paying through Amazon if the company is taking a cut. If you really love your drum teacher, you’ll pay her under the table and let her keep the extra 10 percent.

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Amazon launches “Home Services” business, wants to give you drum lessons

Leaves of three, let it be

Leaves of three, let it be

Time to call Poison Ivy Gone

Published Aug 28, 2014 at 9:35 pm
(Updated Aug 28, 2014)

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Photos

  • Poison Ivy

  • Poison Ivy Gone workers dig up the plants and remove them.

  • The van says it all.

Things you may not know about poison ivy – but should
Urushiol (u-ROO-she-ol), the culprit in poison ivy, is found in leaves, stems and roots of the plant.
Three out of four people who come in contact with urushiol will develop a rash, an allergic dermatitis.
The first contact with urushiol often does not cause a reaction. However, the immune system goes on the defense and the next contact will result in an allergic reaction.
Skin must come in direct contact with the oil to be affected but it can be spread by contaminated hands, clothing, tools, sporting equipment, etc. The contamination can last for five years. The blister fluid does not spread the rash.
Symptoms, 12-48 hours after exposure: redness, itching, swelling, streaky or patchy rash, red bumps, blisters, sometimes oozing. Typically lasts 5-12 days, 30 days or longer in severe cases.
Medical attention is needed if there is a rash on face, lips, eyes or genitals, severe swelling, difficulty in breathing or a widespread reaction.
Never burn poison ivy. While the oil cannot be inhaled from the plant, burning results in toxic smoke that can cause a serious reaction in the lungs, nasal passages and throat.
Urushiol oil remains in the stems of poison ivy for years after the plant dies.
To prevent infection after contact, shower in cool water as soon as possible. Wash toys and tools in soap and cold water.

BY GINNY RAUE
You went to sleep fine last night but woke up this morning with blisters and itching skin. Sure, you were weeding yesterday but you had on your garden gloves. So how did you get poison ivy?

According to George Louvis, the marketing director for Poison Ivy Gone, your cloth gloves act like a sponge, absorbing the urushiol oil in poison ivy, increasing the amount of oil that comes in contact with your skin and making your allergic reaction even worse.

Poison Ivy Gone
Oakland, New Jersey
Free estimates available
973-790-3638
http://www.poisonivygone.com
Business hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Sat. and Sun.

Based in Oakland, Poison Ivy Gone has over 28 years of experience in professionally removing poison ivy in Northern New Jersey but they have also worked in Orange and Rockland counties, Pennsylvania and South Jersey. They service residential and commercial properties as well as others sites, such as country clubs, playgrounds and schools. They are Service Award winners on Angie’s List.

“She comes on like a rose, but everybody knows, she’ll get you in Dutch….”

Louvis reports that poison ivy starts to grow in the spring and he said this year’s weather conditions created the perfect storm.

“It’s a weed, so there’s not much that stops its growth. It’s a vicious and invasive plant and it doesn’t take a lot for it to take over,” he said.

Poison ivy can grow anywhere but usually pops up around the borders of your property or near the house. It roots well in mulch, flower beds and woods, where there is little activity, and tends to shoot off in many directions.

“It’s very aggressive and it spreads in two ways; along the ground, where it gets longer and bigger and then every so often it shoots vertical. That’s when it reproduces and drops seeds. When it starts climbing it’s getting ready to have babies,” he said.

Your dog can take a walk on the wild side in poison ivy and suffer no ill effects, but once you pet your furry friend, who carries the oil on his coat, you’re in trouble. Backyard birds are also culprits in the itchy world of poison ivy. They ingest the berries of the plant and as they do a fly-over they pass the seeds, perfectly encased in their own little sack of fertilizer. No harm intended, but now you are in deep doo-doo and have a good chance of becoming a host property for poison ivy.

“You can look but you’d better not touch….”

Attempting to eliminate poison ivy with a lawn mower or weed whacker only succeeds in spreading the oil on the grass, in the bushes, on your shoes and pant legs. Your tools are also contaminated for the next five years unless they are properly cleaned. And it gets worse.

“When your kids play in the yard the oil is all over the lawn,” Louvis said.

“She’s pretty as a daisy, but look out man, she’s crazy….”

Poison ivy is easiest to identify from April to October. It goes dormant after the fall, but doesn’t die and you can still get a rash in the dead of winter. While the leaves remain is the best time to call Poison Ivy Gone.

“It’s never a do-it-yourself job. Our guys recognize it, figure out where it’s coming from, remove it completely and show you how to keep it from coming back,” Louvis said.

Poison Ivy Gone’s preferred method is to remove it by hand, just beneath ground level, or in the case of significant infestation, by machine.

Sometimes customers prefer the use of an herbicide to protect certain plants from harm. In that case, Poison Ivy Gone technicians use a paint brush to apply the herbicide to the poison ivy leaves, killing off the noxious plant only.

“They are skilled and careful and we are licensed to use herbicides,” Louvis said.

“You’re gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion….”

Poison Ivy Gone technicians know how to protect themselves so they’re not scratching like a hound the minute they mess around with poison ivy.

“The guys are basically in haz-mat suits. They take an oral product and use a cream on their skin. The suits are destroyed afterwards; you can’t re-use anything in this business,” Louvis said.

Poison Ivy Gone removes the poison ivy from the ground then carts it away from your property to a secure location.

And then the Poison Ivy is Gone.

Sources: http://lyricksfreak.com – “Poison Ivy” by the Coasters, 1959; http://www.mayoclinic.org; http://my.clevelandclinic.org;

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Leaves of three, let it be

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