This weekend we moved. Nobody enjoys moving, even though once you have moved, the exciting process of starting fresh in a new home can begin. I’ve always used Craigslist to sell furniture, find quick gigs, hire for short term gigs and tons of other services. I’ve never received any negative feedback when I’ve offered to pay someone for various jobs like moving, cleaning or delivering furniture. I want to compare two Craigslist labor gigs I posted this past weekend, one which received tons of responses, and one which received only a few, and most of them were negative feedback. You can decide for yourself whether I was asking for too much and offering too little.
If you’ve ever looked in the labor gigs, you know that it can be pretty depressing. There are a lot of people who are looking for experienced carpenters who want to pay $10 per hour, knowing full well even a non-union carpenter earns $20-$30 per hour. And there are people who want help moving or doing some other extremely physical but unskilled task for $8 an hour. I knew I wanted a decent mover but I am not the type to hire professional movers when we don’t have that much stuff and none of our heavy stuff is particularly valuable (movers are a justifiable expense when you own heavy, expensive furniture or ornate décor that needs to be handled with care). So I put an ad for two at $14 per hour, and said a small bonus would be included if we finished under four hours. Within minutes, I was flooded with texts, phone calls and emails. One of the first responders early on was a young guy who seemed responsible enough so I took the ad down in less than an hour. Within that time I received almost 20 different offers for help and no one negotiated the rate or complained that it was too low. Many offered their own truck for use with the move. So there was a ton of positive feedback for a $14/hour mover rate which included a lot of physical labor and was about four hours of work. On moving day, we bought lunch for everyone and gave each mover $65, or $16.25 per hour since it was tough work and they did a great job, moving fast but not damaging any items, and were done in exactly four hours. I thought it was awesome that moving day came and went and even though I had lots of work on my end, I didn’t lift a single heavy box. It was totally worth it.
Now here are the stats on the second posted gig: there was one item that needed to be removed off the wall with a ratchet tool that I didn’t have and my fiancé was not around to help with. I also decided at the last minute that we should spackle any holes in the wall from where we hung paintings. Now, I could have done the following: buy spackle and a putty knife and a ratchet set at Home Depot, all for about $50. We had a ratchet set at home but having just moved I didn’t want to find which box it was in. There were maybe 12 small holes in the walls from paintings. So instead I posted an ad with these simple tasks and offered $20 per hour, saying it probably wouldn’t take that long. I had one guy respond right away who came and did the job in about 15 minutes and I paid him $20. I thought that was a fair trade, but unlike the first gig, I got three emails complaining that I was asking too much for too little, warning me “you get what you pay for” and that the skill involved warranted at least $75. Now, I’m the last person these guys need to preach to. I know all about getting underpaid and my fiancé has over a decade in construction and he can tell you some horror stories as well. But we’re talking about jamming some putty in a hole and smoothing it over, and using a ratchet tool to remove two screws. I could have done it myself, I just didn’t want to. It didn’t warrant the time and effort. The guy I hired made $20 in 15 minutes with tools he already had. It’s not awesome getting only $20 from a gig, but for only 15 minutes of work, that’s not too bad. Or maybe the complainers were right and I am just a ruthless capitalist stomping on the rights of hard-working craftsmen everywhere.