By Kelly Hodges
Imagine this not so uncommon scenario. You receive your cable bill in the mail and there is an extra $10 charge that you do not understand, that you think is an error. You are now faced with a decision. Do you let it go (it’s only $10 after all), or do you call the customer service department of your cable company and wait on hold for an excruciatingly painful length of time in order to dispute the charge. Many people understandably opt for the former, as sometimes the time investment in recouping a small refund just doesn’t seem worth it.
Luckily there is a better way! The free FastCustomer app for iPhone and Android has virtually taken the pain out of customer service calls, and made the phrase “please continue to hold, your call is important to us” one you should never have to hear again. This genius app which was awarded one of Time’s top 10 for 2011 does all the work of contacting customer service for you. You first select which company you need to contact (they have over 3000 companies listed in their directory). The app then tells you if their customer service department is open, and if not what time it will reopen. If it’s open, you press the “have someone call me” button. You may then go about your regular business and your phone will ring when there’s a real live human on the line and ready to help you!
This whole process takes about 30 seconds, and this great savings in time can translate to great savings in money as well. Knowing that you can bypass spending your valuable time on hold, here are a few frugal applications for this time saving app.
1. Question charges. If there’s something on your bill you don’t understand, call and ask about it. Whether it’s cable bills, cell phone bills, utilities, or even medical bills, make sure that you’re not overpaying, if you don’t ask you’ll never know.
2. Ask for fees to be waved. Did you accidentally overdraft your account? Make a late credit card payment? Use an out of network ATM? Often times all it takes is a phone call to a financial institution to get fees forgiven, especially if you have been a good customer over time. They won’t wave it if you don’t ask.
3. Negotiate recurring bills. One of the best ways to save money is to reduce the bills you pay month after month. Call your cable provider, cell phone provider, newspaper subscription, car insurers, and anyone else that you pay monthly. Ask what promotions they are running or additional discounts they can offer. Remember that everything is negotiable. Savings here will add up twelve times each year.
4. Give feedback about a faulty product. If you are dissatisfied with a product, call and tell the company. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a warranty or receipt, there are still many companies who stand behind the products they make. I once called a shoe company to express my dissatisfaction after an air pocket in my running shoes burst after only 3 months of use, and they sent me a brand new pair in the mail a week later.
The FastCustomer app goes a long way in eliminating the hassle (and muzak) inherent in customer service calls. Test it out, and save some money in the process.
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.