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Outsource stress with online services

January 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Does this time of year leave you with way too much to do and not enough time to do it? How'd you like to take a cue from the corporate world and outsource your stress? It's an idea that's catching on quick.The holidays have a way of stressing out most of us. That's why it's nice to have someone take away some of the anxiety. Now there are companies that can help with your ever-growing to-do lists at much less than you'd pay for domestic help.

Bryan Boyd loves to traipse the globe mountain climbing with his son. In order to free up enough time, he depends on a personal assistant to help with tasks like travel plans, shopping, and ordering dinner.

"Everything that I need to take care of in my day-to-day life, I'm able to reach out to them," said Bryan.

But this assistant doesn't come to Bryan's home or office -- and he's not down the street either.

"The people I speak to on the phone are based somewhere in India," said Bryan.

Bryan uses a service called Sunday (www.asksunday.com), one of a few new companies that employ overseas workers to help Americans with their ever growing "to-do" lists at a fraction of the cost of domestic help.

"Sunday varies from a personal concierge in that we're 24-7, 365-days a year," said Steve Ludmer of Sunday.

In most locations, they can't run door-to-door errands themselves, but they can arrange them or perform any tasks that can be done over the phone or Internet.

"We're able to make restaurant reservations, doctors' appointments, travel bookings, but then also able to do larger tasks -- researching things on the Internet, doing data entry, things like that," said Avi Samudrala of Sunday.

Some will take care of your gift lists, provide wake up calls, chart a diet plan, and even read your kids a bedtime story over the phone. All you do is sign up online and fill out a form explaining your task. Sometimes you pay as you go, other times you're charged a monthly fee for a specific number of requests.

With any of the services, if you use them to buy something, you'll have to give them your credit card information. Or, consumer advocates say to use third party payment systems when possible.

"You would be wise to use one of the intermediary services like the PayPal type of service because then you'll have someone else, you'll have a third party, to complain to," said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action.

Sunday says it has strict security measures to protect any personal information you provide, and stresses its agents are qualified and trustworthy.


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