My startup tech business has been growing, and I decided it was time to bring in some help to keep up with things like emails, customer service, and so on. I’m not successful enough yet to hire an employee outright, so I started looking into getting a Virtual Assistant.
I read reviews about a company called Time Etc, and decided to give them a try. Now looking back, 3 months later, I wish I hadn’t. I can sum up my experience with Time Etc in one sentence: It’s a Scam. Once they get your money — and you have to pay them up front — they do everything to avoid actually doing the work you’ve paid them for.
I reached out to them through the Time Etc website, and soon after I had a call scheduled with an account manager person in the UK. I told her what I needed help with, and within a couple of days they found a virtual assistant for me. At first everything seemed great — I signed up on a Monday, and by Friday I had a virtual assistant working for me.
Time Etc has different plans to choose from — I chose their $480/month plan which gives you 20 hours a month of VA time. After the first month I realized my VA was using barely half of these hours. It wasn’t for lack of work to do — I gave my VA plenty of tasks, but assignments that she could have finished in a day or two took her over 2 weeks to complete.
Now, in fairness, I had told my VA these tasks were not urgent, because I didn’t want to be a dick and say everything’s “urgent” when it’s not. So my VA was busy with other clients and more “urgent” tasks. Apparently Time Etc fills up their VA’s schedules with as many clients as they possibly can, which is great for the employees, but lousy for the clients (i.e. me) since I now have to compete for my VA’s attention with however many other clients she is juggling. (I wasn’t expecting a dedicated VA, but I WAS expecting my tasks to get done in a more reasonable amount of time!)
The end result? No matter how many hours you pay for, you’ll never get that many hours worth of work. You will always have unused hours at the end of the month.
After about 6 weeks I decided to lower my plan down to the cheaper, $250/month plan, which gives you 10 hours a month. That was about all the time I was getting out of them anyway. So I logged into the website to change my plan and, guess what, you can’t lower your plan through the website. You can upgrade your plan with the click of a button, but you can’t lower it. To lower it, they make you email them. So I emailed them, and then of course they wanted to set up another phone call with me. In other words, they make it really easy to give them money, but really hard to stop giving them money (or give them less).
Well anyway, on this call the account manager person suggested they could find a 2nd VA for me to help work off the unused hours in my account. I said yes, and she said they would find someone for me. That was March 28th. I didn’t hear from her again, so about 2 weeks later on April 11th I emailed her and asked for an update. She replied:
“No luck as of yet, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get you someone over tomorrow though!”
Tomorrow? Ha! That was the last time I heard from her. Here we are, May 12th, a whole month later, and still nothing. It only took them a few days to find my first VA, but to find another one takes months?
Now here’s the real kicker — any unused hours you’ve paid for “roll over”, but only for a limited time. After 65 days those hours expire and the money you paid for them is lost. In other words, you paid for nothing. It clear to me this was their intention all along — they didn’t really want to find me a 2nd VA to work off those hours. They just wanted to string me along until those hours expired, so they could keep the money and not have to do any work.
So, to review. Time Etc has a great onboarding experience — they’ll find you someone right away and start taking your money right away. But after that, once you realize you’re not getting half the time you’ve paid for, they just blow you off.
My advice: stay away from Time Etc. You’re better off finding somebody on Freelancer.com, where you only pay for the hours your person actually works.