Goats, Now Available From Amazon - InformationWeek

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3/30/2015
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Goats, Now Available From Amazon

The new Amazon Home Services will help you find a wide variety of professional home improvement resources.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Amazon can now help you rent goats and perform aerial yoga, though not necessarily at the same time.

On Monday, the company launched Amazon Home Services, an online market for professional services. Customers can use the service to hire "handpicked pros" for jobs related to home improvement, landscaping, appliances, electronics, and automobiles, among other things.

Home Depot and Lowe's already offer similar online markets for home-oriented professional services, to say nothing of search-oriented services like Angie's List and Yelp. But Amazon's familiar and widely used e-commerce interface may appeal to those who are looking to hire service professionals.

Amazon Home Services is now available to varying degrees in major US metropolitan areas, with the highest density of services offered in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

People seeking grazing goats will be disappointed unless they live near Seattle. Goats turn out to be an ecologically friendly and cost-effective way to clear brush and reduce the danger of fires. The "Hire a Goat Grazer Beta" option was unavailable in San Francisco Bay Area zip codes and other parts of the country.

(Image: Jennifer Morrow, CC BY 2.0)

(Image: Jennifer Morrow, CC BY 2.0)

Mike Canady, owner of California Grazing, which rents goats to Silicon Valley firms such as Google, as well as various local government agencies, hadn't heard that Amazon had gotten into the goat business.

In a phone interview with InformationWeek, Canady suggested that his business wasn't really set up to deliver goats on demand to individual homeowners. He said he dealt mainly with large clients and large areas of land – parks, airports, drainage channels, and multiple yards through homeowners associations.

Amazon Home Services extends to training, just as Google is getting out of that business. In 2013, Google launched a service called Helpouts, to connect customers with online experts selling services and education. On April 20, 2015, Google plans to close Helpouts because it didn't grow at the expected rate. Google hasn't fared well when it comes to paid knowledge services for consumers: It closed Google Answers in 2006 and Knol in 2012.

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Amazon is offering a Happiness Guarantee, in which it promises to "work with you and your pro to help ensure the job gets done right," or to provide a refund. If that doesn't happen, or leaves damage unaddressed, customers can file an Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee claim – if the service is eligible – to obtain reimbursement of up to $2,500 for unsatisfactory jobs. Beyond that, there's always court, for which there's not (yet) a one-click resolution option. Amazon also says that if customers find the same service from the same pro elsewhere for less, it will match the lower price.

Consumers may find Amazon's involvement appealing because ordering through Amazon.com makes pricing clear and simplifies payment and scheduling. Amazon said it won't charge customer credit cards until work has been completed.

Amazon said it only hires pros it has invited to participate in its service, though it allows anyone to apply to be invited. The company said that it runs a background check on businesses, which must provide Amazon with required business licenses and proof of insurance, and that individual service providers who travel to customers' homes must pass a six-point background check. Presumably, goats are exempt from such scrutiny.

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 3:21:48 PM
Re: New Services
I definitely don't want to be a pioneer here, so I will wait to see how this plays out before I dive in. That said, I would love it if this service makes hiring a plumber as easy as buying a bag of dog food and having it shipped to my house.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
3/31/2015 | 2:44:29 PM
The music of grazing goats
Amazon is on to something. Goat grazing is a practical alternative. The goats pluck every leaf off thorny blackberry canes on public hillsides in my neighborhood of San Francisco. Without the goats, it would be almost impossible to cut back the vegetation without a big expenditure of labor. The goats can digest leaves that horses, cows and other grazing animals won't touch. And kids love to see kids--the small goat variety. For a more poetic paen, try Brad Kessler's book, Goat Song.
StaceyE
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100%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 2:44:16 PM
Re: New Services
It can certainly feel redundant sometimes dredging through all the clutter on CL.
jastroff
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50%
jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 2:33:34 PM
Re: New Services
Not only are we stuck with CL, but all the utilities I've looked at to search across geos and categories seem to be disabled or don't work...so, it's what I call a hunt-and-peck method of finding things...
StaceyE
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0%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 2:33:03 PM
Re: New Services
@danielcawrey

When I saw this article I laughed, because my good friend just started her own "goat farm" a couple years ago. She is on the West Coast and started with just a couple "pet" goats, now she is breeding, rescuing, trading, and buying goats all the time. I be she would love to be able to shop for goats on Amazon. Haha.
StaceyE
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50%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 2:29:25 PM
Re: New Services
@Jastroff

I could not agree more about Craigslist!!! The least appealing interface I have ever dealt with. My husband uses the site all the time, I would like to see someone come along and give us something better too!
danielcawrey
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50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 1:36:32 PM
Re: New Services
Sounds like a promising service, and although goats sound ridiculous on the surface that doesn't mean there isn't demand for them.

I can think of a few areas in my neighborhood that could benefit from a goat coming in and cleaning up some things...
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 11:19:32 AM
Re: New Services
After all the slimeball things I've heard about people advertising on Craigslist, I would be afraid to go to anyone's door to pick up something, so I don't use it. In Canada we have Kijiji, which is similar to Craigslist, but more popular here, and doesn't seem as slimey (maybe only becuase I haven't heard similar stories about it). Amazon's service seems more trustworthy at least. If only there were such a thing for people who live outside the big cities.
jastroff
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0%
jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 9:56:52 AM
Re: New Services
>> Many have tried & failed. Some standout but most is still niche based. Craigslist still holds the throne as an everything-service.

Why do you think that is? It's true, but it would be nice to have alternatives to CL.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 8:05:38 PM
Re: New Services
@jastroff,

Many have tried & failed. Some standout but most is still niche based. Craigslist still holds the throne as an everything-service.
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