That`s actually a very good point, and a clarification that my organization is working hard to make for business owners. Too many have coopted the Virtual Assistant term without understanding what it means, and in the process caused confusion in the marketplace.
Virtual Assistance, as the model was conceived to be by Stacy Brice, is by definition a profession of administrative support professionals (Virtual Assistants) who partner with clients to act as their assistant. By definition, Virtual Assistants work in an ongoing, collaborative capacity. When a business owner wants that kind of support in their business, someone who can not only perform administrative services in their business, they should look for a Virtual Assistant.
If a business owner is only looking for task-based support, which is transactional rather than relational, then they should seek out a secretarial service.
Business owners can use our client guide which includes the article "How to Hire a Virtual Assistant," to assist them in interviewing Virtual Assistants and discerning who is qualified. That guide is located here:
We also have a glossary that is very helpful in understanding different outsourcing terms which are often confused as Virtual Assistance, but which are actually something different. Knowing these terms helps business owners look for exactly the kind of service they need. The glossary is located here: http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/glossary.htm
Hope that helps.
Danielle Keister, The Relief Virtual Assistance
Administrative Support Services for Business Consultants and PR Professionals | Founder, Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce