Donotpay started as a project to help people automatically fight parking tickets, before its then-teenaged creator, the UK-born Stanford computer science undergrad Joshua Browder expanded it to help homeless people apply for benefits, then to help you sue Equifax for doxing you, then to apply for rebates if your plane tickets' prices went down after you applied for them, then to easily file small claims suits against companies that ripped you off, then to apply for airline compensation for late flights, lost bags, overbookings and cancellations, then to auto-cancel your "free trial offers" by letting you create burner credit-card numbers that would simply not accept future bills when they arrived.
Browder eventually took investor capital and promised to return it by creating premium subscription services that users could pay for in order to get even more automated anti-fuckery services. I was a little skeptical at the time, but now Browder has released a feature that has convinced me to sign up for his $3/month premium plan — as soon as the Android version launches (it's Ios only).
That feature is a hold-queue-beating bot for merchants' customer service numbers. Donotpay has assembled a massive database of the secret, direct, speak-to-an-operator numbers and when you need to get in touch with a company, it will call them for you, wait on hold for you until an operator picks up, then call your phone and connect you, after reading the operator a warning that you're recording the conversation so that you can resolve any future disputes about what you were promised.
This is just fantastic stuff and it's sold me on a subscription once they're available for Android. Browder says that he's designed his payment model around monthly payments, rather than commissions, because he doesn't want to have the conflict of interest that would arise if his future business depended on the problems he was solving sticking around so he could continue solving them.
For Skip Waiting On Hold, DoNotPay built out a database of priority and VIP customer service numbers for tons of companies. For legality, if you opt in to recording the exchanges, the app automatically plays a message informing both parties they'll be recorded. A human voice detection system hears when a real agent picks up the phone, and then rings your phone. It's like having customer service call you.
Not only can DoNotPay help you get in touch about cancelling subscriptions, scoring refunds or retrieving information, it's like "a body camera for customer service calls," Browder says. "Before they make a decision that rips off the customer, they'll think 'this could be made public and go viral and hurt our business.' " For example, an airline that jacks up prices for rescheduled flights surrounding hurricanes could be shamed for profiting off of natural disasters.
This brilliant app waits on hold for you [Josh Constantine/Techcrunch]