/ 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

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Mark says:
16 August 2014

“We reached out to EE for comment.”

Do you mean you contacted them?

Tricky says:
16 August 2014

I called EE customer services earlier this week and was offered the option of paying 50p to jump the queue and, as I don’t approve of such tactics, I chose to wait. Having chosen to wait a recorded message then informed me that my call “would be answered in between 15 and 45 seconds”. It was in fact answered in less than 10 seconds! Yet another money making scheme from EE. Isn’t it time the Regulator really clamped on our mobile phone providers?

Willinever says:
16 August 2014

Have been with Orange and lately T-Mobile for 2 mobile phones over at least 7 years. This is the final straw in dirty tricks and I shall cancel immediately the current contracts expire. I expect at least 3 other much larger contracts within my family will follow suit. We are not prepared to be treated so stupidly and shabbily.

John says:
16 August 2014

After 14 years with EE/O I decided to leave and what a carry on I’ve had.After 6 days almost everyone on the sub continent must have had my name, address and Every letter of my password,as you are asked the same question by everyone they pass you on to ,and this is in addition to all the information they already have on their screens.After several calls by alleged supervisors and other commissioned officers asking why I would want to leave, they promised to unlock my phone,and duly sent me a text after 3 days stating that this momentous event had taken place and that an email had been sent to me with the unlocking procedure.TO DATE no such undertaking has arrived and therefore I have to announce we are at war with EE/O.ongoing will keep you informed

Colin of Canterbury says:
16 August 2014

Managers must have come from Orlando where they charge to queue jump, so those that do not pay extra wait longer and longer. If you pay to queue jump you will find it happening everywhere. Perhaps supermarkets or department stores should start a “fast checkout lane at £1” Where will this stop. One will try it, such as EE, others will watch and see how many people will pay, and then they will do it. Why not use an 09 Premium rate £1:50 a minute number with guaranteed answer in 30 seconds. Money grabbing exploitation of customers. My answer is to show my dissatisfaction is to change suppliers. Then they can be like Tescos, realise they have taken their customers for granted due their size and when they have seen a fall in customer numbers and a fall in revenue. Too late !!

94% of Which Conversation participants would not pay 50p to jump the queue and I’m one of them. In fact I plan to jump from Orange/EE to Tesco just as soon as I use up my existing credit. My basic phone is a dual sim and the signal on the Tesco one is much better than on the Orange. My current and future phones will be sim free so I am no longer tied to any one network nor pay unlocking fees.

DAVY says:
17 August 2014

Well said that’s what we all need to do ,so them who is boss .the customer.

dave edinburgh says:
16 August 2014

ive said bye bye to fixed contracts PAYG and you can change provider as soon as your money is spent i am as loyal as they are

I certainly won’t be switching to EE as my mobile phone provider – and if my current provider introduces this iniquitous system, I’ll be saying goodbye to them and taking my business elsewhere as quickly as I can.

It’s like the much-hated automatic check-outs in supermarkets – if one company gets away with it, all the others will do likewise.

DAVY says:
17 August 2014

Simple don’t give them your business ,if people move from EE to other providers they will re think there charges.

It is a cynical ploy by EE to circumvent the loss of revenue from having to desist from using expensive phone numbers for customer contact. Any company running a successful customer focussed business would ensure that there are no queues, with all calls answered in seconds by a human being in the UK.
Which? needs to start an immediate campaign to expose this dreadful development and nip it in the bud before others follow suit.

Bodger2 says:
17 August 2014

if everyone pays the 50p to queue jump, you’re still going to wait in a long queue. so why pay in the first instance

Another reason not to have a contract with EE. Thanks for telling me.

Because of EE’s constantly deteriorating coverage as a result of its widespread decommissioning of transmitters, after 15 years with Orange I switched in January to Giffgaff, which doesn’t even have a call centre. Everything can be done online without having to spend hours waiting in queues and be put on hold etc. Giffgaff is also a Which best buy. I highly recommend it.

Another good reason to migrate to another provider when my contract is over.

schultzybeckett says:
19 August 2014

I really don’t think that one should be upset over it.This is just a priority service that they have come up.Normally i think they provide quite a decent service. The wait for getting connected is not really a long one.Its just a sort of emergency service and moreover its totally upto you to use or not to use

You are brave to make this comment, but maybe we should take the majority view on this. 🙂

Joanne says:
19 August 2014

No I wouldn’t pay it , for a number of reasons. First of all call should be answered on a first come first served basis, that is fair. Secondly if everyone opts to pay 50p then there is still going to be a queue, or perhaps they going to use that money to employ more people to answer the calls? I suggest they use some of their current profits instead to employ more people in order to be able to handle the number of calls that they recieve efficiently.

Josquine says:
19 August 2014

I’m not with EE and I shall make sure that I never am in the light of this. I think it’s scandalous!

This is just as bad as Luton airport allowing passengers to pay to jump to the front of the queue for security. Queues are indicative of a problem, and should not exist with a well-managed service. In both the case of Luton airport and EE, the answer is not to charge people to circumvent the problem but to solve and prevent the problem.

I also came across the 50p option when I called EE during the last two occasions. I declined the option on both occasions and each time I joined the normal queue the operators picked up within seconds! I suggest that they should advise of the estimated wait time on the ‘normal queue’ before asking you to pay a premium to be ‘prioritised’ because it may not actually be any quicker as my experience has shown.

How would it work in practice if everyone were to pay to skip the queue? We would still have a long queue, so problem not solved.

Sounds to me very much like a rip off or con.

(BTW, as I’m typing this, I’ve been waiting in a queue with another telecoms provider, for well over half an hour now 😉 )

Louis – Come on give credit where credit is due – who has been holding you on-line for 30 minutes!!!

Dieseltaylor …

The (dis)honour of the first award for customer waiting time is happily given to …

(Drum roll please …)


In the end, I waited just short of an hour, then wasted a further quarter of an hour with the agent.

It wasn’t my bill, though, as I was using online chat. My position in the long queue slowly decreased, but the estimated waiting time did not. I got rather excited when I was told 2.5 minutes, only to be told shortly later that it was going to be over 20 minutes!

I decided to use the waiting time productively by doing other things, including contributing to this thread.

I have posted further comments on awful BT on the following conversation link (see the latter end of the comments listing):


EE are dreadful. How on earth did Ofcom decide that it was acceptable for them to charge a full month from the point of requesting a PAC code?! The regulatory system in the UK is so corrupt and in the play of big business.

Thank you so much to the Phones 4 U concession store manager in PC World/Currys Fulham (London) who whispered two darling words in my ear: GIFF GAFF. A revelation and a step change in SIM only price and service compared to EE/T-mobile who would only sell me a 24 month SIM only contract. Please tell me what is the point of that? I might as well get a “subsidised” handset thrown too!