MyAssist Review: The Best $10 a Mobile Pro Can Spend

MyAssist is a virtual personal assistance service designed for the ‘mobile lifestyle’ that I recommend to anyone that doesn’t have enough hours in the day. For just $10 per month you get access to a team of virtual assistants who will bend over backwards to make your life a little easier. In the six months I’ve used MyAssist, they’ve saved me literally countless hours and hundreds of dollars.

I’ve had mediocre experiences with virtual personal assistance services in the past, so I at first hesitated when a MyAssist PR rep offered me a trial account. What convinced me to give MyAssist a shot was the pricing, which still seems too good to be true, and the fact that all of their assistants are based in the U.S.

I had become frustrated with AskSunday after they raised rates (formerly $1 per task, now $3 per task) and I often spent more time explaining what I wanted done than it would have taken to complete a task on my own. AskSunday, and most other virtual assistants, are overseas and I’ve found that language and cultural differences can be a challenge.

MyAssist offers unlimited request for just $10 per month, trouncing the other services I’ve tried in terms of price. If the service can save you even one hour per month or one headache it’s probably worth the cost.  MyAssist is affiliated with TravelGuard, which I assume means they make money when they book travel arrangements, which are on par with the best prices I can find myself via services like TripAdvisor.

MyAssist seems to have the mobile geek in mind. To submit a request you can send a message or call the service using the MyAssist app, which has been available on the iPhone and Blackberry for several months. An Android version was announced a couple of days ago. However, I submit most of my requests through the toll-free number or email.

The staff at MyAssist are courteous, professional and always deliver on time. I’ve left a couple of credit cards on file with MyAssist so they can make purchases on my behalf. They’re also willing to solve problems creatively, while other services have only done specifically what I’ve asked.

Advertisement

There have been a few hiccups- I had to give them my credit card info three times because the info disappeared. The credit card info now seems to be in place. I also had to provide my home address more than once as it seems they had a hard time keeping track of it. MyAssist could really benefit by having a user-accesible portal, as some of its competitors do, where customers could maintain such information and view past requests.

Here are just a few of the examples of the things I’ve had MyAssist help me with.

Booking Travel

The MyAssist folks first got ahold of me when I was in India late last year. I wanted to plan a side trip to southern India with my wife, but in the midst of my brother-in-law’s wedding festivities we simply didn’t have time to sit down at a computer and plan the trip ourselves. In fact, we didn’t even know which state we wanted to travel to.  I called MyAssist from Mumbai and spoke with Jessica. I told her my wife and I wanted to go to either Goa or Kerala, but didn’t know which one to choose.

Within a few hours Jessica emailed me an 11 page document describing Goa and Kerala, including photos and suggestions for excursions. The information was pulled from several web sites. It only took us a few minutes to scan through the document and decide that Kerala would be a better destination for relaxation. I called MyAssist back, told them when we wanted to go. They took care of finding the best deals on flights that worked with our schedule. It was a relief to not have to deal with an Indian travel agent or make a trek to an airline’s office.

We referenced the document several times prior to traveling to Kerala to figure out what we wanted to do. We took MyAssist’s suggestions of renting a houseboat for a day to explore the backwaters and getting Ayurvedic treatments to calm down our nerves after a hectic wedding.

Here’s a picture of the backwaters I shot while relaxing on the houseboat.

Computing While Driving

We all know that it’s dangerous to use a smartphone while driving. Before having MyAssist, I’d occasionally look things up with my iPhone. Now, instead of putting my life at risk, I just dial MyAssist and ask for help. For example, when driving to Carmel last weekend I realized I didn’t have a CF Card reader with me. I called MyAssist and an assistant helped me find Best Buy locations that were along my route from San Jose to Carmel. She also found me a local camera shop in Carmel, told me that they’d still be open when I got there and transferred my call to the store so I could ask what kind of card readers they had in stock. She also explained how I could find the store since Carmel businesses don’t have street addresses (she’d apparently vacationed in the town before). This kind of specific advice is something I’d never received from assistants based in India.

While I’m driving I’ve called to ask them to look up traffic conditions, connect me to businesses so I didn’t have to search for numbers myself and other tasks than too many drivers do themselves while driving.

Finding Entertainment at CES 2010

I wanted to celebrate the team’s hard work with a night out in Las Vegas. As you can imagine, the entire GBM and Notebooks.com team was too busy to figure out which shows were playing when, much less call around and check on ticket availability. I asked MyAssist to find us the best show that wasn’t adult themed on the strip. They recommended several shows and even marked which ones were safe for all audiences or a little risque. We settled on Cirqu du Soleil’s ‘O’ at the Belagio.

Outsourcing Romance

I’ve been relying on MyAssist to help manage my relationship with my wife. Their reps have helped me book dinner reservations, plan our recent anniversary celebration, order flowers and help pick out gifts. At first glance, this might seem a little impersonal, but I can assure you that it’s helped me explore more options and really impress my wife. It also means I can explain exactly what I want to buy, when it should show up at my wife’s office and leave the rest up to MyAssist.

For example, I wanted to take my wife on a day trip to celebrate our fourth anniversary. I had the idea to rent a sail boat, go to wine country or go to a spa in Calistoga. It would have taken me forever to research all three options. I instead outsourced the task to MyAssist.  They contacted wineries and sail boat rental companies and summarized all of my options and provided specific info I’d requested, including whether or not the sailors would provide a gourmet lunch and good local wine upon request. They also put together a full calendar of festivals and special events in Sonoma county.

I ended up taking my wife to Napa for the day and had MyAssist book a pair of seats on the Winetrain for dinner. I asked MyAssist to get us the best available seats. Since it was a last minute booking they were unable to book us in the Vista Dome car, which offered a better menu, better view and a private tablet for the duration of the three hour train ride.  Ben from MyAssist suggested we get on the waiting list for the Vista Dome car. The only problem was that the waiting list opened at 7am on the Saturday of our anniversary celebration. Ben set an alert on the service ticket and called at precisely at 7am to ensure we’d be at the top of the waiting list. When it came time to board the train there were several couples waiting around in hopes there were last minute cancellations for the Vista Dome car. There was only one cancellation and thanks to MyAssist we got the best seats in the house despite my procrastination. My wife was very happy with the anniversary festivities and even asked if I’d had help.

I was also stumped as to what to buy her for our anniversary. She’s been asking for a new purse for some time, but I wanted to get some more ideas.  Melissa, from MyAssist put together a list of unique gift shops in San Francisco and a couple of online options. She also offered some specific gift ideas:

We have put together a few ideas and options for you to review for an anniversary gift.  The traditional gift for a 4th anniversary is fruit or flowers.

Also, if you prefer to shop online, 2 vendors with a wide variety of interesting and unique as well as traditional gift items may offer you options to consider.  Those vendors are:  Red Envelope (www.redenvelope.com ) and Uncommon Goods ( www.uncommongoods.com )

If you prefer the modern option of an appliance, perhaps that can be stretched to include a GPS system if your wife travels a lot or a digital reader if she likes to read.  Digital reader options, like the Nook from Barnes and Noble and the Sony Reader run between $200 – $300.

I hope that something offered in this email will appeal to you for an anniversary gift for your wife.  Please let us know if any further options can be located or if any additional assistance is needed with your upcoming anniversary.

In all, I had three personal assistants help plan our anniversary.

Finding a Dentist

We recently got new health insurance and I got very frustrated finding a new dentist. I tried calling 1-800-DENTIST, but they seemed to want to send me to the highest bidder and referred me to a dentist 25 minutes from my home. I turned to MyAssist to put together a comprehensive list of dentists that accepted my new insurance and to cross-reference them with ratings on Yelp. They delivered a polished list free of any dentists that had a lot of complaints.

Wake up Calls

My wife took a new job in January that requires her to be on a conference call at 7am. It’s a little too easy to hit the snooze button, so I set up a daily wake-up call for 6:30am until she adjusted to her earlier work day. MyAssist no longer takes recurring wake up calls and they must be made on a day-to-day basis.  One of the benefits of having a personal assistant call in the morning is that they always ask if there’s anything that you need for the day. I sometimes do assign a task or two if I’m going to be particularly busy.


Comments

  1. Ken Siegel says

    I usually love all of the posts that you do. I have to say that as a practicing dentist the way you chose a dentist is a very poor way, indeed. Yelp is a terrible way to weed out potential dentists in that any crackpot can post a negative review of a dentist. Some of the best dentists that I know in the country have bad reviews posted on Yelp. Also choosing a dentist by what your insurance covers is also not going to give you an exceptional dentist. The better dentists will not participate with your dental plans because of poor payments by insurance companies. Dentistry is not a commodity. You wouldn’t say that a Four Seasons Hotel is the same as a Holiday Inn. There are differences. The service may be good but not for finding a dentist.

    • Xavier Lanier says

      Ken- finding a dentist is indeed a challenge and to be honest I don’t know the best way to find one. My last dentist was a referral, but he was clearly more interested in selling than taking care of teeth.
      Completely understand that dentists aren’t a commodity. How do you suggest finding a standout dentist?

    • Anonymous says

      The service is really for really lazy people. The time it takes to submit an email request for info could have been looked up on the internet via google or yahoo just as the MyAssist reps do. There is no special dbase they use. The information they provide is from Web search engines. Honestly it’s a waste of money. The owners of this business expect the average use f the service per customer per month to be about 1.5 uses. So paying 10 bucks a month is really a waste of your money. The reps are not polished and int he past month their services ahgve been getting worst. There must have been some management change and it shows in the slow response to your initial call and the pitiful followup that takes place once your request has been fielded. They also bundle their product with some cellular providers and people don’t even know they are being charged for this service. Scam – not quite but almost. Don’t waste your money on this. Siri is a better choice and it’s always available as opposed to waiting on hold for someone to do a search engine search for info I could have pulled up while waiting on hold. MyAssist is garbage!!!!

  2. Kathy Jacobs says

    Xavier, You may have just solved a 25+ year problem with my hubby. He can remember the tiniest trivia about computer history or repair, but not the type of things you mention here. I may just be working on him to sign up for MyAssist… Thanks for the great idea!

  3. Scott says

    I have been using this service for a few months and must tell you it is fantastic. I have a personal assistant, however, I use this for more personal items that I do not want to bother her with. For instance, last week I asked them to contact 10 venues to hold a private party for my wifes birthday. They contacted each one, got me prices and all the details. They put it into a memo format with contacts, menus, etc. I picked one, negotiated the final price and will be having the party next month. That alone was well worth the full one yr cost of a mere $100. Depends on your lifestyle and the value of your time, but for me it’s fantastic. Agree they really need a web portal with detailed info, otherwise great.

  4. Michael says

    I also am curious (seriously) from Dentist Ken the best way to find a good dentist…

    Awesome review of this service Xavier, I’ll be trying them out myself.

  5. L42 says

    I’m curious as to how you feel about the privacy aspects of MyAssist. Using these kinds of virtual personal assistant services, you are handing out a lot of personal information to people you don’t know (not just an automated system), even down to where you are going to be and when, lists of contacts, what you are buying, etc. Clearly you’re okay with this, but do you have any concerns you didn’t mention in your article?

    • Xavier Lanier says

      I’m not too concerned about the MyAssist assistants doing anything like burglarizing my home when I’m away or anything if that’s what you mean :-) I think if you’re comfortable using a travel agent (rather than booking yourself online) you’ll be fine.

      Some people allow assistants (from other services) to screen/respond to email. I’m not comfortable with that and would never give up my email password.

    • Anonymous says

      They are not PC complaint and have no real security to protect yur data once they enter it into their data base. I feel for those that allow them to hold credit card info. No security for this. How terrible.

  6. ishika mahajan says

    This article is terrific and up to date. I totally agree with the writer regarding all this stuff of GPS .The information provided in here is very fruitful and i would like to add on one more technology which i found during searching for last two hours on GPS in india
    http://www.satguide.in/
    check it and let me know, what you think about it.
    Regards:-
    Ishika Mahajan
    Sales Manager

  7. Mr7733 says

    Sounds useless to me but hey to each their own. Just Google anything you need on your iphone.

  8. pooja says

    JNP BPO provides Internet Marketing Services, Image Editing Services, Web Hosting Services, Data Entry Services, Virtual Assistance services, SEO (search engine optimization) outsourced services India.

Leave a Reply