If you hate hold music, you’ll love this.
Boston-based startup GetHuman on Wednesday unveiled a new service that lets you pay $5 to $25 to hire a “problem solver” who will call a company’s customer service line on your behalf to resolve issues. Prices vary depending on the company, but GetHuman offers to fight for your airline refund, deal with Facebook account issues, or perhaps even prevent a grueling call with Comcast to disconnect your service.
“These customer service procedures have become these long obstacle courses for us,” Christian Allen, GetHuman’s CEO, said in an interview. “We avoid them, we procrastinate, and in some cases we don’t do them at all.”
Allen knows the struggles with customer service all too well, after he put off canceling a hotspot service through a wireless carrier. When he finally got around to making the call, he was bounced around and ended up stuck on the phone. Three months later, he had to go through the whole process again because the service hadn’t been canceled the first time around.
“I spent three hours of my life to do this really simple, binary decision,” he said.
GetHuman can work as a consumer’s assistant, Allen said, but some companies do require more authorization than others.
GetHuman started as a company phone directory that helps people find shortcuts to a live person. But after realizing that getting people the right numbers was only half the battle, Allen said, GetHuman decided to start a pilot of its new “problem solvers” service late last year, saying it has already served nearly 10,000 people. The eight-person shop now has five full-timers whose primary job is working the phones trying to resolve other people’s customer service issues.
Allen says his employees are “experts” at this kind of work and he plans on hiring two more callers soon.
There are a few similar services for navigating the maze of customer service, including FastCustomer, which focuses more on saving you from waiting on hold.
Not everybody sounds so thrilled by GetHuman’s new service, though. Time Warner Cable, whose new ad campaign jokingly addresses its poor reputation with customer service, said it would still like to hear directly from its customers. But you don’t even have to call. They have 24/7 online chat support and the MyTWC app.
“Spending your money on a third party who doesn’t know you versus clicking on an app that lets you do self-service seems like an easy choice to us,” TWC spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said.