For a visual 'how-to' guide covering getting started and using Parachuute click here or select 'getting started' from our pages selection in the top of this screen.
(i). What is Parachuute?
Parachuute is a mobile App that enables families to use their trusted networks to solve their kids’ transport needs.
(ii). Why was Parachuute developed?
As parents juggling work and family we were surprised and frustrated by how difficult it was to manage our kids’ logistics. Getting kids to school and back and then to sports/social/other activities takes a lot of time and we observed how little car-pooling happened. We asked ourselves why this was the case and whether there could be a better way. We found part of the reason people don’t do more car-pooling was to do with perceptions of if being awkward to ask or not wanting to feel indebted to others when it would be hard to directly reciprocate. Other reasons were more practical and included that it’s just hard and inefficient to organise using email and texts one-to-one. Parachuute came about as a solution to this very real problem. It seeks to leverage all the good things (our personal networks, goodwill, technology) to reduce the stress on parents and enable kids to stay social and participate in all the things they are interested in.
(iii). What is different about Parachuute?.
Parachuute makes it easier and more efficient to ask for help. The request and offer forms in the app remove the need for multiple texts and communications when finding someone to help. Once a booking is made the app takes care of reminders and holds all relevant information making it easier for parents to keep track of everything. Parents give and earn ‘points’ by helping with kids car-pooling or other favours across their network. The point system removes the challenge of finding a way to directly reciprocate to the specific people who have helped you with car-pooling. ‘Points’ earned can be re-used or transferred as a monetary donation to a charity.
(iv). Is Parachuute like a taxi service or Uber?
Parachuute is not a formal taxi service. Unlike taxi services, with Parachuute you select who you ask for help. You will know the drivers, and your child is likely to have things in common with their child. As a result, the people who are driving are not accredited taxi drivers, and typically your child is joining a driver already taking their own child to or from the same location.
(v). Who can use Parachuute?
Parachuute has been developed for, and is made available to, people over 18 years who are parents/guardians of school aged children who reside in Australia. Users who are providing car-pooling must have a full unrestricted drivers’ licence, use a roadworthy vehicle and disclose whether they have a Working With Children Check (WWCC). Carers of children can also use Parachuute in a ‘pooling’ arrangement and must disclose their carer relationship to a child.
(vi). How much does the Parachuute service cost?
The Parachuute app is free to download and there are no subscription fees.
Users can earn or purchase points for re-use in the system. It is at the discretion of users to choose how many points to offer for a car-pooling favour. A small booking fee of 1 point is deducted from the points offered for a favour. Extensive research across our user groups has gone into the development of the points model. We believe it strikes the right balance of encouraging people to help each other (by recycling credits across the community in exchange for favours) but also reducing some of the guilt parents can feel if they can't directly reciprocate. The points system also provides the ability for parents to 'top up' their points for the times when they aren't able to help as much as they would like. Refer to Points and Payments section for more details.
2. Getting started and signing up
(i) How can I get started?
a) Make sure the friends you would like to include in your trusted network are in your phone contacts list. Speak with and add any other contacts you will want to use (other school parents, parents of other kids in your child’s sports team or lessons). Contacts can easily be added/amended as you continue to use the app so don’t stress if you don’t have details of everyone you need however the more people you set up initially in your group the better it will be.
b) Download the app by either searching for Parachuute directly in the iPhone or Google Play app stores or by clinking on the icons on the home page
c) Sign Up (details below)
d) Build your network by inviting people into your trusted network (see Trusted Network section for more info)
e) Earn or purchase points to get started (see Points and Payments section for more info)
f) Start making requests and offers! (see Requests/Bookings and Offers to Drive section for more info)
(ii) How do I sign up?
Download the free Parachuute app from either the iPhone and Google Play App Stores. You will be required to enter your name, email address and password. As a security check a unique code will be sent to your phone which you will need to input into the app to progress. This ensures we have the right phone number for you given it is the primary means of communication. Once you have done this you can build your profile and that of your kids, set up your network and then start making requests.
(iii) Can I share my account with my partner?
(iv) Will my information be made public when I sign up / how do I make sure this is safe?
Your contact details can only be seen by people who have added you to their trusted network. These are people you have nominated as people you are comfortable transporting your children and are known to you. There is also the opportunity to include any specific requirements for your children (e.g. booster seats, health info). More details relating to this are covered in the Your Trusted Network and Safety Sections.
(v) Can I leave Parachuute?
You have no obligation to stay in Parachuute if you no longer wish to. Cancellation of the account can be arranged by notifying us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will deactivate your account and then you should remove the app from your phone.
3. Your Trusted Network
(i) What is my ‘Trusted Network’?
Your trusted network includes the people you are comfortable transporting your kids; and importantly adults your kids are happy to go with. Given the service is intended to be used for car-pooling these are typically parents you have made connections with via kids school/activities. It is important to emphasise that you define your trusted network based on your personal judgement. It can comprise a small group of people you know very well or can be broadened to include those that transport kids to similar activities but you may know less well or not at all. This choice is yours. The people you have included in your network become the pool of people you select from when sending out requests.
(ii) How can I increase my network?
Creating an engaged and appropriate trusted network is important so that you have people to help you out when you need it. Recommended steps to do this are as follows.
• Add – when you sign up to Parachuute and are in the contacts section the app will display your phone list. People in your contacts list with a valid phone number who are already using the Parachuute app will have a symbol next to their name. Adding them to your network is as simple as hitting the ‘add button’.
• Invite – for the people you want to include in your network who are have not yet signed up to Parachuute, you can invite them to download the app. To do this, go to the contacts screen and hit the ‘INVITE’ button in the top right hand corner. You have the option to invite friends from your phone by sharing the app via email, Facebook or Twitter contacts. These people will receive a message from you saying you have signed up and that you would like them to do so. Obviously mentioning the app to people when you see them in person is a good way to make sure that they actually download it so that you can connect via Parachuute.
• Keep an eye on your Parachuute contacts list to see which friends have also joined. Those who have accepted your invite still need to be added by you. This is a good step to make sure you only include people you want driving your kids versus other people you thought might just want to know about the app or live a long way away from you.
• We recommend that over time you refine and build on your network as friendship groups and kids activities are a fluid thing.
(iii) What personal information is visible to others and by whom?
When you add friends from your phone contacts to your Trusted Network, you will be able to see their name, first names of their children and whether they have declared a WWCC (eg Jane Doe, parent of John D, WWCC). Likewise, if your friends add you to their Trusted Network, they will see this information about you. Remember that networks are formed of people known to each other – members can only add another Parachuute member to their network if they’re already in their phone contacts list. When you send a request to selected people in your network additional information that you have included becomes visible to them. This would include any notes about your children’s needs that you wanted them to be aware of and obviously the details of the transport request, including pick up and drop off locations.
(iv) Can I see who in my Trusted Network has a Working With Children Check?
Once a parent is included in your trusted network, you can see if they have declared having a WWCC or equivalent. The information visible to you is their name, their children’s first names and if they have a WWCC.
(v) How do I know if people really have got a WWCC?
When someone sets up their profile on Parachuute they tick the box as to whether they have a current WWCC. We are not a certification agency and as such do not view a copy of their WWCC. If you have doubts or concerns about the validity of a claimed WWCC you should perform your own independent research. Think of Parachuute as a system that makes it easier to ask favours from people you know and already trust. When thinking about who is currently in that group for you are you across who has a current WWCC and would you ask them to show it to you to confirm they are telling the truth?
4. Making Requests/Bookings
(i) How do I make a request / booking?
Once you have signed up you can request a favour from your network. It’s as simple as clicking on the ‘new request’ button in the app, filling out the required details and selecting who in your trusted network to send the request to. Required information includes which child the request is for, when/where of both pick up and drop off location and the number of points being offered for the favour. Any important information relating to your child is carried forward from their profile (e.g. allergies, booster seats) but there is also the opportunity to include additional information relevant to the booking (e.g. remind child to bring their tennis racquet). Once you have made a request is remains in ‘pending' status until it is accepted by one of the people who you sent the request to. At this stage its status is moved to ‘confirmed’. Points are deducted from your points balance when you submit a request (they are returned if the request is not accepted or cancelled).
(ii) Can I make return bookings?
At this stage return bookings are not built into our request form however it takes very little time to send another request for the return trip as recent locations are saved for use in subsequent forms.
(iii) Can I make recurring bookings?
Yes you can set up an ongoing booking but they need to be sent as separate requests. This approach is taken as it may not always be the same parent who is able to help and enable you to cancel or make changes to specific instances of a request.
(iv) How do I accept a spare seat request?
When you receive a spare seat offer you can view it to see if it’s something you would like to accept. Click on the offer which will appear in Requests Pending to see full details and if it is of interest click on the red ‘accept offer’ button. This will create a new request form which is pre-populated with the information provided by the person making the offer and can only be sent back to them. You are able to add any additional information required. If they then accept the request your trip is confirmed.
(v) How do I know someone has accepted my request?
When you send out a request to your network everyone receives a notification. As soon as a person in that group accepts your request you receive an alert. Additionally, all of this information is incorporated into the app. For example, in the requests section the favours you have asked are categorised into pending (no one has accepted yet), confirmed (someone has accepted) and completed (your history for reference). The same process happens with offer spare seats status.
(vi) What if no one accepts my request?
Requests remain in pending until a person has accepted. The Parachuute app encourages users to view open requests by sending direct notifications and highlighting requests/offers in the app for people to action. In the circumstance where a request has not been successful the requestor has the opportunity to cancel the request and then re-submit to a potentially wider group if appropriate. This is solely at the discretion of the requestor.
(vii) Can I cancel a booking?
A person who has submitted a request (Requester) that is either pending or confirmed is able to cancel that request at any time up until it is due to take place. For late cancellations (same day) we recommend that you make direct contact with the other party to make sure they are aware of the cancellation.
If a person who has accepted a request (Helper) needs to cancel, they should contact the requester directly to provide a reason and discuss alternatives.
(viii) How can I be confident someone will do the trip they have accepted?
Parachuute has in built notifications to help remind requestors and drivers of what’s going on and their commitments. For example on the evening before a trip is scheduled a driver will receive a reminder notification. This will both prompt them to remember it and create action if there are any problems. Obviously in the early stages you might feel more comfortable reaching out to drivers directly to check everything is sorted – that’s ok too.
(ix) What happens if the driver is running late?
Unexpected things do happen to everyone but when they impact a commitment made for car-pooling we would expect that the driver would behave responsibly. This means making best endeavours to communicate and solve problems with the parent and/or child. Drivers should use their good judgement to work out the best course of action based on how late they will be and the impact of this on the kids involved. When in doubt direct contact with the other parents is recommended so that there is an agreed course of action which may include any of the following: getting a message to the kids so that they are not worried, finding an alternative arrangement and/or informing the destination (e.g. sports club).
5. Accepting requests / Doing drives
(i) How do I accept or decline a request?
When someone sends you a request you will receive a notification. You can click on this to take you to the specific request. If you lose track of the notification you can always open the app and find requests you haven’t addressed in the pending section of ‘my drives’.
Clicking on the summary screen will show full details of the request and enables you to either accept the drive or notify the person that you are unable to help by pressing the ‘sorry – I can’t help this time’ button.
(ii) Someone asked me to help but I can no longer see the request?
When a person sends out a new request they are likely to send it to more than one person in their trusted network. If that request is accepted by someone else before you have a chance to review and accept/decline it then it will disappear from the pending drives area. You would have also received a notification that the lift is no longer required as it has been accepted by someone else.
(iii) Scheduled activity cancelled / weather interruption / other unforeseen events
The parent that becomes aware of this situation first should make contact, if possible, to agree the best course of action. If respective parents are unable to make contact then good judgement should be used to determine an alternative arrangement that works for the child. This situation is no different to how parents would expect another adult to behave when they had taken on responsibility minding another child.
6. Making offers to drive/ Spare seats
(i) Can I offer spare seats / lifts to my network?
Spare seats can be advertised/offered to your network easily by filling out some basic information in the ‘offer spare seats’ form. This includes the number of seats available and key date/time/location details. For example, the offer could include the info of 2 seats available on Sat 2nd for the 10am party at Moorabbin Indoor Sports Centre. This offer would be sent out to those you select as being relevant from your trusted network. Anyone from that group who wants to take up the spare seat offer clicks on it to create a pre-populated request form based on the information provided which you need to accept to confirm that they have the spare seat you offered.
(ii) I made spare seat offers to a few people but now they are used up
If you end up in the situation where all the spare seats you have offered have been booked but are concerned that others may try to request those seats then you have the option of cancelling your spare seat offer. When you do this it will disappear from the pending requests section of people in your network you had sent the offer to. People who have booked a seat with you will understand that their individual spare seat booking remains.
(i) What if my child requires a booster seat or other specific child restraints?
During the sign up process you are asked to provide relevant information about your child(ren). This information is carried across into every request that you make relating to that child. So for example, if your child needed a booster seat you would make note of it in your child’s profile, which people in your trusted network would see when you send them requests.
(ii) What if my child has other needs?
As outlined above, Parachuute provides the opportunity to capture specific information for each child that drivers need to be aware of. It is assumed these needs are ongoing until a parent changes the information contained in the child’s profile. This might include highlighting medical or other needs that you believe others should be aware of. When submitting a request there is also the opportunity to include trip relevant information (e.g. whether a child needs to take something along).
(iii) Who else will be in the car?
Typically you will have requested a favour from parents whose children share school or other activities in common with your own children. For that reason the vast majority of car-pooling trips would involve at a minimum the parent, your child and one or more of their children. There may be instances where a parent is taking just your child(ren) somewhere due to a change in their typical arrangements (e.g. their children sick, away on camp).
(iv) What if there is a car accident and injury to a person?
Obviously good judgement is required in the case of any accident and includes notifying parents of the situation and emergency services where required. From an insurance perspective standard state-based rules apply in the case of any injury that occurs to any passenger (whether family or not) in a vehicle. The fact that a request for car-pooling was organised via Parachuute should not impact any insurance coverage, however you should check your insurance policy or confirm with your insurance provider that this is the case.
(v). Can I track my child’s whereabouts?
At this stage Parachuute does not provide the opportunity to track your child’s whereabouts in real time. If your child has a smart phone you can enable that function independently. There are also other technology solutions available to parents who would prefer extra reassurance. With Parachuute you are requesting help from your trusted network. Expectations of parents providing / requesting help will be the same as they currently are across groups. For example if there is a delay or occurrence s either parent needs to be aware of then parents would expect some sort of notification of this happening so that there is agreement / understanding.
(vi) Can I message or call the driver directly?
You know who is collecting your child so if you have any concerns we would recommend you reach out to them directly. Remember we expect all drivers to follow the law when transporting children which includes not talking on a mobile phone whilst driving unless it is via an approved hands free mechanism. To minimise challenges associated with phones/driving we recommend making contact prior to or after the car-pooling timeframe.
8. Points / Payments
(i) How do I get points?
Earn: You can earn points by accepting and fulfilling a request made to you. Purchase: When you initially sign up you will be given the option to purchase points. Purchases require you to enter your relevant credit card details. The number of points purchased is at your discretion with the choice being bundles of 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50. At present 1 point = $1. Parachuute does not store any banking details on file for security reasons and we use an accredited mobile payments service. There is a nominal surcharge for the purchase payment. This surcharge is made visible to you for acceptance.
(ii) How can I top up points?
As you ask and receive favours you ‘spend’ your points. In order not to run out of points you either need to ‘earn’ them by doing favours across your trusted network and/or purchase additional points in bundles of 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50.
(iii) How do I know how many points I have?
Your overall points balance is displayed at the top of the home page (called Dashboard) you see when you open Parachuute. If you want to understand your points balance (debits, credits over time) select ‘More’ from the navigation at the bottom of the screen, then ‘Manage Points’. From there you will see a sequential list of activities where points have been earned or spent.
(iv) How many points should I give/earn for a booking?
The amount offered should reflect what you are comfortable with offering / accepting. The app allows you to choose from the following range of points for a single booking: 3, 5, 7, 10, 15. Feedback from users suggests that 5 points is a standard amount for a straight forward booking in the local area. Note that a small booking fee of 1 point is deducted from each booking. We recommend you use your discretion to determine payment. Things to consider when selecting an amount include: (a) Have you asked for this last minute vs organised in advance? (b) Will someonene going ‘out of their way’ to assist? (c) How many of your kids are being transported? (d) Is it a quick/local trip vs long drive? (e) How much time or inconvenience are you saving by not having to do the trip yourself? (f) Are you asking for complex things to be done or just a simple drop off?
(v) Is there a booking fee?
When a request is accepted by another person in your trusted network, a Parachuute administration fee of 1 point is deducted. For example, for a 10 point favour, 1 point goes to Parachuute when the request is confirmed and 9 points is transferred to the driver when the favour is marked as completed. This points fee is in exchange for the service offered by Parachuute and the functionality delivered which makes booking and managing much easier.
(vi) How do I make sure points get transferred from me to a driver?
Within 30 minutes of the scheduled completion of a trip the driver will receive a reminder notification asking to confirm if the trip was completed. If the ‘yes’ button is selected points are transferred to their account. If a driver forgets/ignores the notification they need to action this within the app from the request which will still be in confirmed status area. In other words Parachuute takes care of the points transfer for you.
(vii) Is there a Cancellation fee?
If the booking is cancelled before it has been accepted, the full balance of points is returned to the requester. If the booking is cancelled after it has been accepted, a cancellation/ administration fee of 1 point is deducted and the remaining points are returned to the requester.
(viii) What happens to points if the drive doesn’t end up happening?
For situations where a booked request did not end up happening (e.g. unforeseen events such as someone being unwell, weather interruptions) points will be returned to the requestor less the booking fee still applies. To trigger the return of points the driver needs to select the ‘no – did not happen’ option when asked to confirm if the drive has been completed. Common sense needs to be used when responding to the drive completion notification. For example, a driver who was going to take kids to tennis was unable to do so due to rain. Instead the driver let both kids play at their house for the equivalent time. In this case the defined trip was not completed but a favour has been provided. Under this circumstance, we would suggest the driver marks the trip as complete in order to get the points transferred.
(ix) What can I do with excess points / how do I donate to charity?
If you are in a situation where you have more points than you can use we provide the opportunity to make a tax deductible dontation to one of a selected range of charities. These charities focus on the welfare and education of Australian children. We suggest you monitor your points balance for a period of time to understand your usage patterns before making a decision as to your donation amount. The minimum donation amount is 2 points and the system will not let you go into a negative points balance. Donations can be made by tapping on the ‘More’ section of the navigation at the bottom of the app and then ‘Manage Points’ From there you will see a red ‘Donate Points’ button. This will direct you out of the App to the Parachuute website donations area.
(i) Feedback, Help and Support
We welcome questions, feedback or suggestions. For example, we would value your views on what functionality you do/don’t like and what sort of additions to the service you think would be valuable. Candid feedback is most useful to us. We would also love to know if there are local areas / associations you think would benefit from our service. All of this can be sent to email@example.com