/ Money, Shopping, Technology

Would you pay 50p to skip the call waiting queue?

50 pence

The mobile phone provider EE has introduced a 50p fee to jump the queue on its customer service helpline. Is that a price worth paying or a kick in the teeth?

Do you ever get fed up with hanging on the line waiting to talk to your energy provider, mobile company or bank? What if you could pay a small fee to skip the queue? That’s what EE has up its sleeve.

You’ll be invited by an automated message to pay a flat fee of 50p when you call up EE (ooh that rhymed!) to use its ‘priority service’. Pay monthly and sim-only customers have been presented with this ‘opportunity’ for the past week. An EE customer here at Which? HQ has phoned EE’s customer service number to confirm that this option is indeed being presented.

EE’s customer service fee

It looks like some of EE’s customers aren’t happy about it. Andrew Griffiths told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours:

‘I thought it was a bad idea for a company to offer to provide what really ought to be a standard level of customer service for a fee.

‘It makes you think that perhaps they might not be trying too hard to answer the non-prioritised calls.’

We reached out to EE for comment. A spokesperson told us:

‘Our aim is to set a new standard for customer service in the telecoms sector, developing our support to meet customers’ increasing expectations and needs. As part of this two new UK call centres opened already this year, part of our plan to return over 1,000 customer service roles to the UK from overseas.

‘We’re also introducing some charges for customer services. This includes a standard charge per call of 25p on new SIM Only plans for customer service, as well as an option for all customers to jump queues at busy times, for a small fee.’

What do you think about paying to skip the call waiting queue? Is it any different to paying for queue jumping at the airport?

Would you pay a 50p fee to skip the customer service call waiting queue?

No (88%, 1,608 Votes)

Yes (12%, 215 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,823

Loading ... Loading ...

I had a problem with Halifax the bank today. I was left on hold for 42mins. But they have put a £28 credit onto my bank account. £18 for the cost of the call and £10 goodwill.

I would rather wait 40mins & get a goodwill than pay 50p & speak to someone right away lol

npower offer a call back service, and Scottish Power let you book a call back from them at a chosen time on your account website with them. Seem good systems to copy. Better than wasting time hanging on – unless they give you an acceptable wait time.
Once I had an automated call back that went wrong – didn’t connect to a person. I put my phone down but they didn’t disconnect and my landline was blocked for 30 minutes. You need an emergency contact – but then I suppose that would be abused.

I was already thinking of switching from EE, due to problems with the customer services department. This conversation topic has given me a further reason to leave and that is exactly what will happen soon.

Thanks for the update – and I read the other thread also. Makes one think that perhaps we need a Statr Chamber approach to policing the mega-corporations.

” Initially well regarded because of its speed and flexibility, the Star Chamber was made up of Privy Counsellors, as well as common-law judges, and it supplemented the activities of the common-law and equity courts in both civil and criminal matters. In a sense, the court was a court of appeal, a supervisory body, overseeing the operation of the lower courts, although it could hear cases by direct appeal as well. The court was set up to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against the English upper class, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes.

Another function of the Court of Star Chamber was to act like a court of equity, which could impose punishment for actions which were deemed to be morally reprehensible but were not in violation of the letter of the law. This gave the Star Chamber great flexibility, as it could punish defendants for any action which the court felt should be unlawful, even when in fact it was technically lawful.

Talkmobille also offers complaintants a higher rate call service. The cheaper call Tel No. leaves u hanging on for ages. I never did get through despite several calls and eventually resorted to emails,
4 so far, but still no joy and no smart phone service for almost a week.

I am with Orange for one simple reason. None of the other networks have a signal where I live. Well one O2 does, but only in the bedroom, with phone on windowsill.. I have PAYG, so no work – no pay !
Never had a proper english speaker on their so called “help line”. The web site looks ok but is useless. Hey ho !

This is ridiculous. Another campaign form Which needed?

I am thoroughly fed up with being asked to pay extra for what should be a basic service. They must have got the idea from Airlines and Orlando theme parks.

I left EE over a year ago because of constant phone hassle as I couldn’t agree to them taking over my landline connection which meant I would lose the use of two portables I rely on. Having read the comments of other EE customers I am now glad that I did. ‘Tricky’ asserts that he/she “doesn’t
approve of such tactics” and rightly so. If everyone when finally getting through after waiting in a long queue would make this assertion to the call centre representative it may carry some clout.

Voting with your feet is the obvious solution but it is also possible to add more pressure by making your objections felt verbally also until something is done to counter this exploitation of our essential services.

Here is an alternative way that someone found, to jump a call waiting queue:


Basically, the writer found that using certain swear words made the automated systems recognise her as a frustrated customer and got her straight through to an agent.

Now, I’m not advising that you start swearing and this may not work for all queuing systems, but I was amused to read about the novel approach.

The purpose of the IVR is to identify your needs and direct you to the right agent to help you. Now some IVRs are badly designed and have problems – but taking the attitude of trying to confuse it is simply counter-productive. I’ll bet the people using this method are also those who complain when their call has to be transferred once it is answered.

The impact of this will be
1. Callers who pay the 50p will be routed to a priority queue – there can be no guarantee of zero wait time – it just means they will be answered before those who do not pay.
2. Those who do not pay will wind up waiting longer and longer
3. Eventually more and more customers will be fed up with the wait – they will all pay, which means the priority queue will now be the same size as the initial queue – and wait times will stay the same but everyone will be paying 50p for no better service.
This is a disgraceful idea – charging customers for what they should be able to expect for free. EE needs to set appropriate service level targets and then staff to meet them – not try to scam customers.


so I am avoiding EE

Nasty nasty boys

How does this even work? If everyone pays fifty pence, they’ll all be in another queue.

That’s right, so the fee will go up to one pound, and so on until equilibrium is reached.