Getting on the phone for customer service can be extremely frustrating. First you've got to find the correct phone number for your region (good luck trying to get customer service from a sales department), then you have to listen to the annoying automated system to navigate your way to the department you want. More often than not, you'll be stuck with some elevator music while you wait to speak to an actual human.
Sometimes you can connect to a real person in a matter of seconds, and some companies even offer a "call you back" service, but in most cases, you're stuck with that shitty hold music for what feels like forever, and you're probably tired of it.
But with free services like FastCustomer and LucyPhone, you can have companies such as Apple, DirecTV, and Time Warner, among many others, call you when they have a customer service agent ready on the line.
Start by favoriting some of the companies you call frequently, such as your phone carrier, your internet provider, and your bank.
If the company you want to call doesn't show up in favorites, search for them through the "Companies" tab, where you can comb through hundreds of them. Once you're ready to make a call, tap on the company name and choose the department you need to reach.
Below you can see that Apple has 6 departments to choose from, including Apple Care, Tech Support, and several brick-and-mortar locations. Tap on "Have them call you" to begin the process of having the company call you when an agent is on the line. The first time you do this, FastCustomer will ask for your phone number.
After saving your phone number in the settings, FastCustomer will dial the company, go through the hurdles of getting to the correct department, wait on hold for you, then connect you when they get someone on the line.
In addition to the mobile app, you can set up calls through the FastCustomer Chrome extension on your desktop. When FastCustomer recognizes a website, the icon at the far right of the browser will turn blue. Tap on it to get redirected to FastCustomer, where you can check wait times and enter your phone number so they can call you back.
Obviously your wait times will vary depending on which company you call. With Apple, I received a call four minutes later, which didn't feel like very long because I put my phone down and just went about my business. My phone rang and I was instantly connected with an Apple representative.
With DirecTV, the phone call came about eight minutes after I initiated ait. Disney's call failed completely, so be prepared for that; just don't let it discourage you because I had success for the most part (four out of five calls worked flawlessly).
LucyPhone is another alternative to waiting on hold, but works a little differently. Instead of automating the whole process, you dial the number and go through the automated prompts, then once on hold, the service will wait in line for you and call you back when an agent is on the phone.
Through the LucyPhone site, enter the number you want to call as well as your own. Your phone will then ring, where you'll be connected to the company—if/when you're put on hold, just press ** and LucyPhone will call you back.
Thanks to FastCustomer and LucyPhone, you never have to wait on hold again. And that's a good thing, because who's got the patience to listen to forty-five minutes of rage-inducing elevator music? Let us know which service you prefer in the comments below or on our Facebook, Google+, and Twitter feeds.