FastCustomer can help get you out of customer service hell

FastCustomer is a free iOS app that has been around for awhile, but just got a recent update. The app has a list of 3,000 frequently called companies and can break through the endless phone trees and frustration of being on hold for customer service.

The app is simple to use. Select a company you want to reach -- sometimes the app even offers specific departments. Tell it to contact the company, and the app goes to work. It actually doesn't use your cell phone connection for this, but connects through the internet. The app tells you it is dialing, navigating the voice mail tree, waiting on hold for someone to answer, then it calls the number you want to talk on. It could be your cell phone number, or even a wired home phone.

I tried the app with both AT&T, and DirecTV. In both cases it worked. My iPhone told me what was going on, and in a couple of minutes my phone rang and a live customer service person was there. I wasn't stuck listening to elevator music or getting a recording about "how important my call is".

I can imagine instances where the app might not work, but it worked just fine for me. One thing to be wary of is the "cancel call" button on the app. If you press it while you are on the call, even if it is to your wired phone, the call drops. FastCustomer runs in the background, so once you initiate the call you can leave the app, or just watch the progress of your call.

FastCustomer can save you a lot of frustration. Free is a great price, and there is an in-app purchase of US$4.99 that lets you submit numbers that aren't on the built-in list. I actually found the list quite complete, with most airlines, cable companies, insurance firms, and even Apple. Some companies, like Amazon, have a similar call back service that you initiate from a browser.

FastCustomer requires iOS 7 and is not universal. It's optimized for the iPhone 5.