By Adam Savage
Student No. 16437759
Curtin University (October, 2016)
What is Pawshake?
Pawshake is a web service and app that allows users to
“find verified pet sitters in your community to take care
of your animal when you can't” (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016).
You can use it to “find a host family that will board your
pet, or a pet sitter who will come take care of your pet
at your house” (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016).
Can I trust Pawshake’s Pet Sitters?
Pawshake would like us to think so! However, in reality
“Pawshake is a platform built on trust” (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016).
There is no way of truly knowing a particular sitter or
owners real identity or intent for using the service.
Then how do they “verify” them?
In the “interest of everyone’s wellbeing”, Pawshake
verifies the contact details of users in “various ways”
(address check, email verification & SMS) before allowing
them to be publically viewable on its website or an app.
If a user’s profile is deemed inappropriate or that they do
not think it meets their “high bar” standards (details of
which are not explained) they will delete them without
notice. (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016).
All of that information is from the
easily readable and accessible FAQ.
However, if you read Pawshake’s
Terms & Conditions…
“Pawshake does not screen or verify any content
submitted by a User...Pawshake has no control over the
accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of
Profiles, Reviews, background check information...and has
no control over the quality, timing, legality, failure to
provide, or any other aspect whatsoever of the services
provided by Hosts” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
Further to this…
“Users must resolve any issues, disputes or concerns
directly with each other. You agree to release Pawshake
from any claims or liability that may arise from any
disputes between you and other Users” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
Surely there must be
some safety net or insurance?
There is a capped $3,000 limit to veterinary expenses paid on
“an injury” to a pet during the service. “Once the full amount
of money has been spent, the treatment of illness or injury
won’t ever be covered again.” (Pawshake - Insurance Details, 2016).
So if the pet succumbs to an illness, extended or lifelong
injury, once the vet bills exceed the capped limit, it is up to
the owner to pay all costs. This is on top of a $250 excess
payable by the pet sitter, even if it wasn’t their fault.
So it covers only vet bills?
Yes, although there is a $250 cover for any 3rd party damage.
You ARE NOT COVERED if your pet is (or is a cross-breed of)
a Pit Bull Terrier, Basset Griffon Vendeen, Tibetan Mastiff,
Mastiff, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres,
Leonberger, Toy Fox Terrier, South African Boerboel, or
American Bulldog, even if they have been trained well.
(Pawshake - Insurance Details, 2016).
What about privacy?
As explained, Pawshake do not acknowledge any obligation
to screen or monitor any user profile or images, but will
delete them if deemed inappropriate. They DO however
make you agree that by using the service “Pawshake may, at
its sole discretion, publish these photos on the Site and
across social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,
and similar sites” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
Well, I just won’t post any pictures...
Nope, “Hosts are required to provide periodic photo updates
to the Members and Pawshake via text message or email.
Failure to do say may result in suspension from the Site.”
(Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
Even by using the messaging feature of Pawshake means that
you acknowledge that your conversations “are not private”,
and that you agree that Pawshake may “review, save, edit,
decline to transmit, and otherwise use the messages or their
contents or disclose their contents to third parties, in our sole
Blimey, none of that was
clear when I signed up!
Nor was the 19% commission Pawshake TAKE from a
successful sitter’s pay for every completed booking!
(Pawshake - Payment Policy, 2016).
But it’s not all bad.
Pawshake works as promised.
There are just some hidden costs
and tricky terms & conditions to
get your head around.
Just be sure to always read the
T&Cs and other policies thoroughly
before using an online service.