EE in hot water over 'priority answer' customer service

UK carrier EE is being criticized for its new customer service system that allows some customers to pay to jump to the front of the call line. If you agree to a 50p fee, you will be able to speak to the next available representative rather than wait in line like everyone else. The move has sparked outrage, with many customers taking to social media, lambasting the carrier. EE still promises take calls as rapidly as possible:

He stressed the company would "still process calls as quickly and efficiently as we can". The option of paying the charge is being made available to everyone except pay-as-you-go customers.

What do you think of EE's new "priority answer" policy? Let us know below in the comments.

Source: The Independent

 

Reader comments

EE in hot water over 'priority answer' customer service

57 Comments

This reminds me of the speedpass that let's you skip to the head of the roller coaster line. All the poor kids wait in line for an hour while the privileged ride 10 times in a row.

That's life I reckon. Is a wealthy man's world.

If you want the highest priority from customer service choose the menu option for canceling service. They'll put you right though.

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Unless you're with Comcast, in which case they will put you on hold until they close. Lol

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Lol. Yes, true it does not always work. I tried to cancel with TXU (a large electric co. in TX) 10 years ago and they put me on hold for hours. I guess it worked because I eventually gave up and they had my business for a few more days. But because of that one experience I haven't even considered them since.

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That was the first thing I thought of, too. It's a way for the park to marginally diminish the value of a regular pass (while still charging full price) and make more money selling the higher priced passes. I know it's good business for them but it irks me as a "regular" customer. Since the value is only diminished a little, there isn't really much blowback for the park.

I always choose the cancellation line with my tv/phone... hell everybody really. Cancellations in Canada = OMG OMG SORRY WE WANNA KEEP YOU !!! ... also there's always a "for new potential customers, press X" which is picked up rather quickly... fresh meat boyssss

I see nothing wrong, unless a caller gets a message saying: "Your total wait time is approximately 5 minutes." and then, get another message saying: "Your total wait time is approximately 35 minutes."
BTW, many companies have always has paid customer service and "free" customer service, so wtf is the big deal.
PS: I hate waiting for anything!! I love fast-pass/speed-pass/etc. I have never been to a post office in a decade, refuse to go to Walmart or any store with long wait lines, order my groceries online and all I have to do is drive up and pick them up. Fluck waiting! I will gladly pay to not have to wait.

That was what I was about to write. If you continually get skipped because other people are coughing up money, that's some bullshit. I don't know about UK carriers like EE, but US carriers are bleeding us dry enough with our money that I shouldn't have to pay extra just to get some help.

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The problem is that customer service is a finite resource. If you jump the line that pushes someone else who didn't pay back. In other words, your willingness to pay has improved your experience while degrading everyone else's. That's just wrong.

My thoughts exactly. It doesn't improve customer service as a whole for all their customers. Just another way to squeeze you for more money as an existing customer. My contact is up very soon and will be taking this into consideration as an Orange customer. The quality of customer service has gone down since I started with them.

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Lots of companies have paid priority support. Isn't this model better than charging you every month for a service that you may not use during that billing cycle?

Except that it incentivizes the company to under-staff customer service. The longer the wait time the more likely someone will pay to go to the top of the queue. The company shouldn't be rewarded for shoddy resource allocation.

This.

I work in a call centre and every day I have to transfer clients to other departments and the wait times can be awful. Every now and then a pre-recorded middle-aged woman comes on and says "we are doing everything in our power to answer your call as quickly as possible" which makes me grind my teeth.

The only thing that needs to be done, and which funny enough is the only thing NOT done, is hiring more staff. I wouldn't say it was a staffing issue if it didn't happen often but it happens every single day.

The bean counters don't care. And the more beans you give them the worse things will get.

~ TheRealFixxxer

I hear you. I've worked in call centers in the past. Companies, even good progressive ones, tend to treat CS people as chattel. They often expect everyone to be overloaded continuously and refuse to add necessary resources.

The calculus seems to be, "How pissed off can we make our customers before they bolt for our competitors?....OK...Let's set that as our standard."

No problem if they give you an accurate estimate of the wait either way. If you pay and the 'free wait' is no longer then it's a problem. The wait times are normally not that long anyway. Except for BT who should be liquidated

n5

I am torn on this. I can see both sides of the coin... on the one hand, the business should be able to do what they want, the price is not high, everyone has an equal opportunity to participate the the priority program. On the other hand, it doesn't seem intrinsically "fair" to jump queue just because of money. Now, if it were based on your history, tenure, severity of call, or type of call, that would be different.

This sucks really. Chances are that you are phoning the carrier because there is a problem, so why should you be charged in order to report a fault or get a resolution to a problem that they caused in the first place?

They certainly do! When I first started buying stuff on the internet you could pretty much guarantee that anything you ordered from Amazon would be with you in about 3 days. now you can pretty much guarantee that unless you pay up for some sort of enhanced delivery option your order will show as "processing" for at least 3 days.

Shipping service itself is slightly different. That affects time in transit.

I'm referring to order fulfillment...the time it takes to remove it from the shelf, put it in a box, slap a label on it, and give it to the shipping carrier.

I didn't question the fact. I questioned the subjective judgment "Same thing really". It's not the same thing.

I have never bought something from amazon that wasn't shipped out by the next business day at the latest...

I also don't pay for prime and always select the cheapest shipping option.

I've bought lots of things that sat for days. Other things went the next day. When I'm not Prime.

When I was Prime, no waiting. Ever.

I don't see anything wrong with this. Here in Southern California we have to pay to drive in some car pool lanes. It's the same thing, just paying to get in front of those non-car pool drivers. To add insult to injury, the fee for the car pool lane varies with how busy the traffic is. The slower the non-car pool lane the more the cost for the car pool lane.

I'm assuming that's a rhetorical question. But, here's a bit of trivia. The California state constitution prohibits toll roads. Bridges, yes, but toll roads are not permitted. That's why we call them Freeways here. But there are toll roads in California and, as I pointed out, toll car pool lanes. It's illegal so how is this possible? Well, to get around this, California sold these roads, including the car pool lanes, to private enterprise. They no longer belong to the state. Voila!

It may not have been rhetorical, car pool lanes aren't a thing in the UK. As I understand it, a car pool lane is a lane on the motorway that you can only use if you have more than one person in the car.

On your original point, this may not be easy to grasp, but many Brits think we're already too much like our American cousins and really do not want the UK to become more like the US.

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Fuzzy, yes carpool lanes require 2, sometimes 3, passengers in the car. A motorcycle needs only one passenger.

So when everyone coughs up the 50p, there will be no advantage - except for the one lonely guy that didn't pay and has been hold, listening to elevator muzak for the last 3 days.

According to the BBC on the radio earlier. Average differences were little over 1 second between free and played.

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hey, you have to pay to play baby!!!! LOL. No money, no fast track! I wish the US companies did this. Then maybe us agents in CS would get to speak to the more intelligent customers, instead of the &%&**%^&*%&%!

The more intelligent customer wouldn't want to encourage the company to provide shoddy customer service by paying into this sort of scheme.

Other companies are now seeing how the airlines are getting away with all the fee's so they are jumping on board with other fees. Well Mr Smith I hope you enjoy your new car! What you wanted a steering wheel? Well thats an addition fee of $1000.00

My steering wheel did cost extra, but I was happy to pay because it had buttons for radio controls, cruise control and bluetooth calling.

Of course, paying extra for extra features isn't the same as paying extra for the same service.

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I used to be a road warrior. After 911 security in airports was chaotic for quite some time. What used to be predictable became unpredictable as the amount of time it took to get through security would vary widely. Some of the airlines created a speed lane for their high-volume customers so they could get through security quicker. I thought this was horrible. Security is all of our concern and we should all bear the burden of it equally. I no longer fly that often so I'm not sure if this is still allowed.

This is case is a little grayer. I don't think it should be illegal but I certainly would not patronize any company that has this practice.

This. Do they really think a terrorist couldn't just take a few flights without a weapon until they get the speedpass?

They sure do! If your ticket is for First Class you skip the lines and move right through.

The screening process is still the same, in theory, you just don't have to wait in line!

If so, I disagree with this practice. If the rest of us have to wait longer due to more stringent screening, so should they.

But if I am willing to pay for the extra TSA agents to get me through without a line via higher tickets prices seems like I should be able to do that.

Odd, I have flown both first class and coach, It takes the same amount of time to get through security (US and international) in my experience. I am not counting customs of course, but customs was 100% determined by flights coming in, and the amount of processors processing passports. Now if your talking about the boarding process, ya, First class goes first. I think the assistance needed people go before them though.

I think you may be talking about the TSA Pre-check (http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/application-program)? You sign up and pay a fee to go through security quicker. That has nothing to do with first class on plane though.

Step 1. Tell customers there's a 10 minute wait, even when there's no wait at all.
Step 2. See who pays to get to the front of the line.
Step 3. Connect people to reps in the same order as usual.
Step 4. Profit.

by doing this is not good customer service plus that will make customers want to leave sooner than later am already paying for the service so I expect good customer service y pay extra to jump the que so if a lot of people pay for this then what you still have to wait like the person who didn't pay

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This is EE trying to do an end run around the law.

Some background for non-UK readers. Up until recently it had been fairly common for customer service phone lines to be premium rate - that is the company called gets a cut of the amount you're charged.. Sometimes £1 a minute.

Ofcom in one of their rare moments of clarity realised this meant companies were incentivised to have shitty service so you had to call... And the longer they held you in a queue the more cash they made. So they changed the rules to stop the practice - now customer service lines must be standard rate calls.. There are heavy fines for breaking this.

EE realised their cash cow had evaporated and cooked up this scheme to keep the money flowing - they reason there *is* a standard rate customer service line so they're in compliance. And if you want to actually have your problem resolved? Gotta pay like old times. I suspect Ofcom will take a dim view of this, as it's pretty blatant.

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This happens all the time. Financial institutions do this a lot- customers with higher value accounts don't wait on hold and get sent to skilled agents. Customers that don't wait on hold to speak with lower skilled agents.

Same idea, but EE is letting customers 'upgrade for First Class' rather that slotting them in based on account value.

If they are looking to nickel and dime customers for this, rest assured they are going to be looking for every other opportunity to do so. It amazes me that companies pay huge sums on advertising and promotions building brand equity and then trash it by acting cheap. They should be paying attention to removing friction points in their service rather than ways to cash in on artificially introduced choke points. Sad.

Pathetically brilliant, only if I could get the prettiest Cusomer Service to talk to too. I bet for a fee I could rent one as well!!!

I find it amazing how many people are okay with this. Why should anyone have to pay extra to talk to someone about a problem for a service that they're already paying for? That makes no sense. There’s no difference between this and the ‘fast lanes’ that the FCC wants to set up for the internet.