Best App for Reaching a Human Being
Live and in person: Tap the name of a company to get its customer-service number along with instructions for sidestepping the answering system. Tap the number to dial. The app also includes “tips” from other callers, a good idea that unfortunately disintegrates under the pressure of human nature. While the comments are occasionally useful, most are rants about the specific company or adolescent pull-my-finger graffiti.
Website: Next Mobile Web
“If you can’t stand this voicemail system, press or say one.” When calls to customer-service numbers get lost in a maze of touchtone prompts and greetings from recorded robots, Dial Zero helps you find a human voice. The app lists the toll-free numbers of hundreds of companies—that alone is useful—but also offers the precise steps for reaching a human operator.
Website: Michael Schneider / Hive Brain
Like Dial Zero, Direct Line collects customer-service numbers for a huge list of companies. The list on offer is smaller than Dial Zero's but the app handles the keypress combinations for you. Tap a company name and Direct Line makes the call, pausing and pressing at all the right times in the voicemail dance to weave its way to an operator. The app doesn't offer community comments like Dial Zero, but in most cases that turns out to be a strength, not a weakness.
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