Among the more aggravating predicaments gadget fans often find themselves in are the scenarios where devices break or accounts get over-billed and phone calls to customer service must be made. The only sure way to make these situations even more aggravating, of course, is to navigate through a maze of key-presses and then sit on hold for 13 minutes before a call is finally connected. Thankfully, services like FastCustomer look to ease the tension a bit by waiting on hold in place of the user and then and connecting the call only once an operator has picked up the phone. Companies like Fonolo have been trying to tackle the same problem for quite some time, but no other service offers the simple UI and the smooth user experience FastCustomer affords — input the name of the company you want to reach, key in your phone number, then sit back while the magic happens. FastCustomer’s Web-based service is completely free for the time being, and it has an app in Apple’s App Store for $0.99. The company is also looking to connect with an Android developer to build a Google-friendly app, but no word on a time line. Hit the break for a video explaining how FastCustomer works. More →
Now this is a service we can get behind! Fonolo serves one purpose and one purpose alone: Kill phone trees. If you’re not familiar with the term “phone tree” you’ll certainly be familiar with the concept. When something you own isn’t working properly despite your best efforts, you get angry. You pride yourself in being a skilled gadgeteer so the fact that you can’t fix the problem yourself is a bit enraging. Now you have to swallow your pride, cowboy up and call the dreaded “customer care line”. After dialing, are you greeted with a knowledgeable human? Of course not. A digitized female voice simply makes matters worse by asking you all kinds of questions and requiring you to push various buttons for a few minutes before you have the pleasure of sitting on hold for half an hour. Ugh. There is hope though, and that hope is fonolo.com. Fonolo provides you with flow charts for each company in its data base. The flow charts represent each and every option that you would have if you called the customer service line yourself. Simply select a point on the chart (likely “speak with a customer service rep” down near the bottom) and Fonolo will call the company for you. It will automatically navigate the menus and then ring your phone once it has reached the point you specified. Best of all, it’s free! There are also some other cool options such as the ability to record calls and publish them online to give others a taste of what they can expect should they need to call the same company. The catch? It’s currently in private beta. You can enter your email on the homepage to be notified as soon as they’re ready for you and we highly recommend doing so. This is the kind of service worth waiting for.