To queue or not to queue
IN a time-poor world paying someone to do the chores is commonplace. Now there’s a refinement – paying someone to stand in line for you. Want the best picnic space for New Year’s Eve fireworks, or a child’s birthday party in a public park? No problem. Pay someone to hold it for you. How about the latest Apple product? Some will pay up to $1000 to have another person queue for days, just to be first in line. That’s about $125 an hour if you clock on at midnight for a morning launch.
Queuing is a growth industry in countries where people have high incomes and hate boredom. In China people have paid up to 200 yuan or $40 for others to queue to avoid waiting up to 26 hours to see doctors. In Europe the rate is about €10 or about $14 an hour.
The co-founder of Australia’s dominant queue broker, Airtasker’s Tim Fung, says about 350 people advertised for the iPhone6 launch last year in Australian cities. Each ad attracted at least two applicants. Fung says if you’re going to buy something such as an iPhone you want someone you can trust. “We include insurance and you can check people’s profiles and ratings if they’ve done jobs before.”
For every job advertised on Airtasker, whether for someone to mow the lawn or program a television, the company takes a 15 per cent cut. Airtasker grew 700 per cent in 2014, and now brokers more than $1 million worth of jobs each month.
Professional queuer Alice saw dozens of ads looking for people to queue for the iPhone6 last year and put herself forward to earn $20 an hour standing in line from 10pm until 7am. “I had nothing else to do, I thought it would be fun to be part of it all,” Alice says. The teacher, 26, took a camp chair, sleeping bag, chips and chocolate, and her mother kept her company. “I would do it again, it was pretty fun,” she says.