Hate calling customer service? Let free service Service do it for you

Whether you don't have time to wait on hold or just don't want to deal with surly customer-service reps, here's an excellent alternative.

We're living in the service economy, right? Anything you want done but don't want to do yourself, you can hire out. Rides, restaurant deliveries and, now, customer-service calls!

New service Service calls companies so you don't have to. It's effectively a personal assistant that handles one of life's most tedious jobs. And here's the best part: there's no hiring required. Service is free, at least for now.

It works like this: Fill out a brief form identifying your issue. Want your credit-card company to waive a late fee? Ticked at your cable company for missing their appointment window? Heck, maybe you just want to cancel a subscription and can't do it online. As long as it's something reasonable, Service will take the case.

Thanks for the service, Service!

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

In most instances you'll also need to specify what kind of outcome you're after. Refund? Cancellation? Something else? Even so, creating a new "case" usually takes just a minute or two. From there you wait to hear back from a Service rep, who will likely need some additional info.

And here's where privacy concerns come into play: Service can't call, say, your cable company without your name, address, account number and so on. You might also be asked to provide copies of past statements. According to Service's privacy policy, the company "may share non-personally identifiable information for any purpose with trusted third parties."

If that's a deal-breaker, well, thanks for stopping by. Me, I'm happy to trade some marketable information about myself for freedom from customer-service calls.

Service test No. 1

I put Service to the test with two issues. The first was a $6 increase to my Comcast bill. I wanted to know the reason behind it, but wasn't willing to make the call, wait on hold, repeat my account information three times, wait again while the CSR looked up my account and so on. (You know the drill.)

Instead, I told Service the situation -- and asked for a refund on my bill if it was applicable. Within about 15 minutes, a rep asked me for my last two statements so he could investigate before calling. It took a few minutes for me to find, download and share them, but it was still better than actually calling Comcast.

Result: about 20 minutes after that, the rep identified three small price increases from the previous month, and noted that because Comcast sets these rates, Service was "unable to assist" in getting me a credit. But I had my answer, at least, and didn't have to call.

Service test No. 2

Now for a call I was really dreading. My SiriusXM promotional period had just ended, and I'd neglected to call and cancel in time to avoid getting billed for the next three months -- at full price.

So, yeah, this was my bad. And I really didn't want to make a hat-in-hand call to beg for a resolution.

But Service did it. And got my charges reversed. The whole thing took about half an hour. Oh, happy day!

Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on the nature of the case. And I'll admit it's a little weird to let a third-party service act as my proxy. But I'm getting used to it. Recently I started using Paribus to claim price-drop refunds for me, and that's been a fruitful relationship.

This isn't too different, and in some ways it's even better. Service helps you save time and sanity, and might even be better at negotiating than you are. Certainly it's ideal for people who hate confrontation, even if it's just the kind that takes place over the phone.

I'm a convert. I don't expect Service will remain free forever, but I definitely plan to use it as often as possible for the time being. Your thoughts?

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