To reach a human from the iPhone, Dial Zero

Slash through all the red tape between you and customer service with this mild-mannered iPhone app.

Dial Zero helps you skip to the front of the phone line (Credit: CNET Networks)

I've made my share of vociferous complaints about spinning through automated phone systems without ever reaching a real person. The self-help Internet Age has made everything worse as more corporations channel customers back to online help centers. Grr, it dampens my mood just thinking about it; there are simply some situations that call for prompt human interaction.

Dial Zero is one free iPhone application that can ease the pain. To get a live person, start by scrolling or searching for the company you wish to call. Then, tap the phone number and follow the instructions posted on each record for the number you should push to barge on through the automated switchbacks. For some companies, pressing zero repeatedly is the key; for others, pressing 2 once is your Open Sesame.

When you're done, there's a field for sharing feedback--especially useful if the company changes their numbers or automated menu--and a link for rating a company's customer service on GetHuman.com.

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