Posted February 23, 2015
Yesterday, I came across a new text-based meta-service called Magic. Magic is supposed to be the ultimate on-demand service. According to its homepage, you can ask Magic for anything you can order online, and they'll take care of it for you.
It's actually a pretty simple idea. They hired some people to respond to the text messages that come in, decide which service is most appropriate for the request, and place the order. In terms of technology, it's also very simple, likely being a Twilio number with an admin panel on the backend, linked to Stripe's payment gateway.
Last night I was over at Jeff's place watching the eventual Best Picture winner, Birdman. We decided to order dinner, and since I had signed up for Magic, I thought it'd be fun to try it, even if it was a little pricier.
At 6:00pm I sent Magic a message asking for a burrito and a burrito bowl from Chipotle. Then we waited.
19 minutes later, I got a reply with a link to put in my credit card information. At 6:21pm I replied that I was done putting in my credit card and at 6:23pm I sent them the address to send the order to. Then we waited.
31 minutes later, at 6:54pm, Magic replied, asking for my name. I replied within a minute. Then we waited.
27 minutes later, at 7:21pm, Magic finally replied with a price. For one veggie burrito and one veggie burrito bowl to be delivered they wanted $35.
Just in case you think that might be a typo, I'll spell it out. Thirty five dollars.
An hour and twenty one minutes after first contact, we were offered delivery of our $13 meal for $35. Given most delivery times, we wouldn't have seen our food until 8:00pm. Had I gone through Postmates (which Magic likely used for this order) directly, I would have had my order for only $26 (still pricey for delivery) in only the time required for someone to pick it up and deliver it.
Magic? Not really. Surprisingly Slow And Doubly Expensive Delivery Service. That's more like it.
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