The difference between Sittercity, a website that connects parents with babysitters, nannies and mother’s helpers, and Chime is that only the top 1 percent of Sittercity sitters qualify for Chime. That means that these caregivers have earned high ratings on Sittercity and that the company has interviewed them in person. Additionally, Chime sitters must undergo background checks, which are optional for Sittercity.
Chime launched in four cities in September 2015 and has completed more than 10,000 bookings. It debuted in Washington in October 2015 and is now available in 30 neighborhoods in and around the city.
The app is sort of like Uber for child-care needs. You create an account with your name, email address and a password. Then you send a request for a sitter, much as you send a request for a ride through Uber (as with Uber, you pay through the app). The process starts by asking you to select a date and time, the number and ages of kids to be watched, and the address where you’ll need the sitter. Interested sitters will respond.
Through the app, you can see a first name, photo, proximity, number of Chime sittings and rating, and watch a video of the sitter describing herself. If you want to see a last name, what the sitter charges (a fixed rate) and receive contact information, you have to approve the booking.
My first request, with a lead time of two days, went unanswered, and Chime canceled it after 24 hours. One with more notice netted two responses, one from Karin Argueta, 25, an Alexandria resident with eight years’ babysitting experience. She likes the app.
“With Chime, it’s a lot easier to get just a sitting job, and they already plug in what they’re looking for. It’s just a lot more simple,” Argueta said.
As a parent, I appreciate Chime’s ease of use, mandatory background checks and ratings, and Argueta seems like she would be a fine sitter. I wouldn’t rule out Chime, but I’m still more comfortable with a friend’s enthusiastic, “My sitter is great. Let me get you the number.”
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OPERATING SYSTEM: iOS
USER RATINGS: Itunes, stars (7 ratings)
REVIEW’S BOTTOM LINE: Having well-vetted babysitters a few clicks away is great when you’re in a pinch.