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UK Carrier EE Has Begun Charging Customers Extra to Jump the Customer Support Queue

August 15, 2014 - Written By Peter Holden

Contacting a call centre is never the most pleasant thing to do, from trying to reach the correct department through the minefield of options via the keypad on the phone, then being forced to listen to chamber music for anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours depending on how many people are calling at the same time. It’s frustrating as anything, and that’s before you even get to the human on the other end who is more interested in reading from a script than actually listening to your complaint or request. For SIM-only monthly subscribers of the UK network provider EE though, there is another option, albeit controversial.

EE, in all their wisdom, have (for the past week or so) been providing pay-monthly subscribers with SIM-only plans the option to choose to pay a flat fee of 50 pence (83 cents) in order to skip the queue instead use a Priority Answer service in order to reach customer support. If you choose not to take ‘advantage’ of the Priority Answer option, then you will remain in the queue until your time comes to be heard. It’s an option that is causing a stir in the UK, with suspicions that EE is merely trying to find a new stream of revenue, rather than providing a better service for its customers.

So if its only £0.50, what’s the fuss? Well, the fuss is that what’s to stop EE from diverting more and more resources to the Priority Answer service, thus making the standard queue even longer, because there are fewer people answering the phones, which means that callers will be more likely to pay for the priority service. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, because more people choosing to pay for the priority service means that there’s a higher demand on the call centre operatives answering the priority phone lines, resulting in a longer wait to speak to someone. If everyone has paid for the Priority Answer service, how can it be a priority for everyone? Besides this, people are already paying for EE subscription fees that should include access to a decent quality of customer service, why should EE be allowed to Double-Dip? For their part, EE have said that the ‘small charges’ for certain services contribute to the investment in the business’s customer service department. An EE spokesperson has said that the company would “still process calls as quickly and efficiently as it can” and that the Priority Answer option would become available to everyone except Pay-As-You-Go customers.

The worrying thing is, that you know the other UK carriers are watching EE’s experiment with like hawks, and that at the first hint of acceptance by its customers, they will follow suit with their own versions of the service, trying to wring every last penny out of their customers for a service they already pay for.

Is it naive to think that companies should be trying to provide the same level of service to each and every one of its customers? Would you pay the 5o pence (83 cents) in order to get your complaint answered more quickly if your carrier offered it? And would the ‘double-dipping’ affect your decision to stay with your carrier when your contract is up? As always, let us know in the comments below or at our Google Plus page.