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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

135 Comments
  • So theoretically you could always be on hold if you don't want to pay. Riiight.
  • I'll see you in hold Q
  • Well I'm in the US but if this works I see dumb att trying this out. Ugh.
  • lmao I was about to comment this somewhere here. Ahh dammit the US and UK love to share stupid ideas among other things -_- they call it advancement of course lol but same thought I had, now this gives Verizon and ATT a spark
  • I hope not. I use ATT for DSL and no matter what time of day I call, it says we are experiencing high call volumes. Same message even during hours that they aren't open which is another thing that sucks. How can you not be open 24/7 if my internet is only up 60% of the time.
  • Exactly what I thought mate.
  • Exactly... Because if 50% of the time people choose this... The other 50% who don't could stay behind forever!!!
  • Guys In this world its all about money Live Example.....Poor people always have to wait May be Survival of the Fittest
  • In Survival of fittest less rich will probably win but this is not that, why not increase customer reps.
  • Actually, I read a study that said survival of the fittest is not true. For example dinosaurs, sabre tooth tigers etc etc. It's not the fittest, largest or stronger that wins/survives, its the most adaptable!
  • True......  
  • fit1 Translate Button [fit] adjective, fitter, fittest. 1. adapted or suited; appropriate:
  • +1
  • I heard somewhere (FT?) that quite a lot of these mobile carriers could go bust around 2015/16 as they are subsidising the cost of a new phone to their customers and thus also losing money - this could be why they're trying to squeeze an extra penny here and there to try and survive in a touch economic market. However, to charge extra, for a better/faster customer service helpline experience, only highlights how poor their customer service must be...
  • Olaf Swantee, EE chief executive, says EE aims to increase its profit margins from 22.9 per cent currently to 25 per cent by 2014 as customers pay more for the faster mobile internet service and the company looks to make cost savings.
  • everyone else is spot on with their comments.  It's not survival of the fittest, it's survival of the smartest.  If EE keep this policy and lots of customers abandon them, then their plan is shooting them in the feet and they lose out more than we do.
  • So what happens if everyone started paying? How would that work.
  • It's a silly idea. Like you say, if everyone decides to pay then its back to being normal queue! Should not be allowed really. I am an EE customer and they make enough profit already. They should offer a good customer service rather than this scam for more profits. Just greed!
  • How do you know how much profit they make and if its " enough"?
  • http://ee.co.uk/our-company/financials/ee-interim-results-for-6-months-ended-30-june-2014 £760 million before tax etc in 6 months ;)
  • Good one :)
  • Think you need a lesson in revenue vs profit. And to Alex's point, what exactly "enough" profit
  • i'll admit, i'm not an accountant and I don't have a good understanding of industry terms. Revenue was £2,991m, Obviously earnings before tax and stuff isn't exactly profit but it still gives an idea of the massive amount of money they are making
  • I've stated this above but fyi: Olaf Swantee, EE chief executive, says EE aims to increase its profit margins from 22.9 per cent currently to 25 per cent by 2014 as customers pay more for the faster mobile internet service and the company looks to make cost savings.
  • Does the "p" stand for pence?
  • Yes similar to cents really, not much, but it equates to a lot due to how long those horrendous EE queues
  • Well 50p is about a dollar here. I don't see a problem with the idea of it it's only put in place to help those who are in a hurry. There are sometimes legitimate reasons to need to be put at the beginning of the line. Make it too much to want to do all the time, but enough to where it didn't seem like overkill. Like 15$ or something.
  • Well, the only time I phone EE is when they get things wrong. So now they are saying wait in a long queue or pay 50p to get quicker service. Even though we mischarged you, yeah, GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE!
  • Well, if it works in Legoland why not? ;-)
  • Then it's back to normal except EE would've made more money.
  • I really see no problem with it. I'm not sure if they still do it, but I remember when I went to Disneyworld, you could pay something for some type of pass that let you skip lines.
  • I have no words...
  • I don't recall paying extra for Fast Passes. The service is part of your entry into the theme parks.
  • I remember they had something where you could pay more and get more fast passes. Maybe they stopped doing that.
  • No its not. Not anymore at least. Now all amusement parks have special fast passes for $30-$40 extra.
  • TonyDedrick is correct. When I was there the fast-pass was free -- all it meant was, you was allocated a time to go back to the ride instead of queuing up all day.
  • Fast pass is included if you started at their resort. Otherwise it was extra. Next time just bring someone in a wheelchair and it's even faster for free.
  • That's the thing, I never stayed at the resort and got fast-pass for free with my ticket.
    Having said that, I'm from the UK and I purchased a 14 day Ultimate Ticket, and not a day pass -- maybe that's why it's different to US customers. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to find out from anyone else from the states in regards to Ultimate Tickets, as I presumed everyone was treated the same?
  • Are we really saying that Disney et al have a 'fast pass' for the complaints queue? That's what EE are instigating here. I shall choose the VERY fast pass. Goodbye EE.
  • Ha ha ha -- that made me chuckle. Your right mate, it's like comparing apples and oranges.
  • And this is why I went with O2. Plus I got an O2 exclusive 64 GB 1020 so I'm happy! :D
  • I got the 1020 from o2 too. I've not had to delete an app for a long time!
  • Haha! Same here. It's amazing. And perfect for photos too considering these RAW files are way larger in size than my previous phone's (Lumia 800) pictures.
  • Yes me too 1020 on O2, makes me forgive the no SD card, have had to empty my photo bank a few times because of a few holidays though, not forgetting priority moments, love me some free stuff!!! Plus I won cinema tickets with priority moments!!!
  • O2 have a very decent customer service, but I don't think I could stomach their unreliable 4g (my flatmate has it, and his 4g has never worked when he needed it to). EE and Three both have shit customer service, but better 4G.
  • Well my cousin would disagree with you mate in regards to better 4g on EE, because she can't even get a signal. See link provided:
    https://onedrive.live.com/?gologin=1&mkt=en-GB#cid=22C12AD36EFAAB44&id=2... As you can see by the image, EE are happy to take peoples money and sell them shite. Yet, they can't provide a good signal and want to charge customers the privilege of try to sort it out. lol
  • have to admit, can't receive 4G in my area (Suffolk) even though they upgraded my contract with no extra charge, and that did create extra problems as I could no longer receive a 3G signal, so I had to change my existing 3G sim card and upgrade (for free) to a 4G sim card JUST so I could receive a 3G signal again...
  • This just proves that it's all down to location, rather than saying one carriers more unreliable than the other. It just isn't true, as it depends what obstacles are in the way of the signal -- swings and roundabouts. For me, it's the opposite in my area but in another town or city, it may be rubbish. Nevertheless, the places I've travelled all over the UK and Republic of Ireland, I've always had good reception overall.
  • yeah I accept that it's all about location, and o2's customer service was excellent in understanding and solving my problem which was just an unfortunate hitch. Plus, O2 also offer free Wi Fi in many restaurants and bars, and together with their past (having been BT Cellnet originally) this is why I actually signed up to O2 rather than with other networks...
  • What a scam! Typical carrier capitalistic tactic.
  • And it is not the first time. I remember years ago I got into an argument with one2one when they started sending unsolicited texts saying I would get charged 10p per text and to stop them I had to text STOP which they were going to charge 10p
  • What's with the numbers in European carrier names. LOL. One2one, 3, O2. Any others?
  • One2one as in having a one to one chat but now they are called t-mobile owned by ee. O2 used to be BTcellnet now O2 probably something to do oxygen. 3 were the first company that used to use 3g as their advertising campaign when it first came out
  • Its a joke, customers should be a priority regardless.
  • When Orange introduced their Animal plans originally the Panther was their top tier; my mum got priority customer services for free, she never had to queue - any issues on our 4 lines we used hers to call.
    Don't think they advertised the priority CS but they announced it when you were in the automated system.
  • Just say no, you'll be through in around ten minutes like I always am, rang them on Wednesday and that worked out fine
  • Sounds like a good business model, people pay for priority support all the time. However, it should not be abused - I could see where that might be an issue...
  • one would expect staying with EE already makes you a priority customer
  • Well looks like they don't think so anymore. Will have to think twice before renewing my contract with them.
  • Wow, and I though that queuing is a big deal in Britain. I live in London and I would never dare jumping in front. Why does a British company think that they can get away with this, beats me.
  • Because they aren't a British company. They are French (Orange) and German (T-Mobile) French (always queue jumping) German (the 50p is like a towel by the pool) (Please recognise this as a sarcastic comment)
  • Funnily enough, although you were being sarcastic, it's still true. The exact same thing happened to me the other month, at the Charles de Gaulle Airport and in Thailand with some German tourists. ;)
  • Ha ha - good one :)
  • Services have always done this though I have never seen them charge a fee for it. Some companies like ATT have a code you can enter in the phone as the prerecorded operator begins speaking that will immediately switch you to a customer rep without waiting. This is no different other than the fee.
  • It doesn't surprise me at all -- especially with their previous track record (Orange and T-mobile), with ripping customers off in the UK.
  • TRY EMPLOYING MORE PEOPLE INSTEAD EE...IN YOUR GREED YOU PASS YOUR PROBLEM TO THE CUSTOMER TO SOLVE
    So glad I left you..nothing but awful customer service..
  • Totall agree, at the end of the day it all boils down to not having enoungh servicie personal on the Indian Helpdesk. One of the reason i left EE was having to wait on the phone if i had a problem.
  • The Ryian Air of the phone companies! Will look into switching!
  • The major issue is that EE usually cuts you off while on hold, I can someone paying 50p then being cut off
  • Telecommunication companies have been doing service priority for years.  I.e.. Higher billing customers entering the queue will gain priority over lower billing customers.  At least EE is being honest about how the system works.
  • As far as I'm aware, they don't do that in the UK, hence the uproar mate. Interestingly, you can speak online with O2's customer service, which is brilliant idea. So, I don't see why EE or the companies you know about, are trying to scam their customers by charging them money to jump a queue.
  • Your right Dazzi, when I need to speak to O2 and even Microsoft recently, I used their online chat feature and got the information I wanted, it's alot quicker than waiting in line on the phone!!
  • Yeah mate, I agree with you totally. Funnily enough, I used the Microsoft online chat too, and I got the same results as yourself. In fact, I was impressed with Microsoft because the guy who was dealing with my delivery problem was in Canada -- dealt with it in 5 mins. This means Microsoft's customer service is 24 hrs a day, which is brilliant.
  • This could fall foul of EU regulations, Offcom will need to investigate.
  • Anything that falls foul of EU regulations is a good thing.
  • This pay to skip people thing is getting ridiculous. Here in the US parks like Disney and Cedar Point will allow you to go to the front of the line if you have a handicap member in your party. So wouldn't you know it, some scum bag starts a company that allows you to "rent" a handicap person for the day for this very reason. Disgusting.
  • That's just... appalling. :-/
  • They charge enough for their plans. How is customer service not included? Ridiculous to charge that much on a monthly basis and then charge to get off hold lol The ee customer service experience is clueless. Go into a store and invariably you'll be put into a phone... Ee. Good grief.
  • Telecommunications companies are never totally honest...don't defend them.....the stock market demands they provide ever increasing returns...to satisfy stakeholders. This tactic is a typical response to satisfy there stakeholders...customers complain but that's all they do...
  • Money grabbing bar stewards
  • Don't give bar stewards a bad name lol
  • Maybe I'll pay their bill on time if they pay me 50p! What a joke. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • Its not a stupid idea. How many of your ever been to an amusement park? Remember those express passes?
  • Me, and I kinda get your point. However, an Amusement Park is for fun, while EE customer service is far from fun mate. Therefore, it's like comparing apples and oranges. ;)
  • Really? Amusement parks have express passes for the complaints queue? Some how I don't believe you...
  • I moved to giffgaff from EE, their after sales service is rubbish. But you can chat to a sales rep instantly online. If they implement this and you do not pay 50p (about 75cents) you will never get thru.
  • You should have gone with giffgaff's sister company O2, as you get good after sales service plus online chat. ;)
  • My country, there 1 give 2 option to call Costumer Service.
    1. Its free and you actually cant speak directly, you only could know the basic service, and spoken with robot.
    2. You pay, and you directly could speak to costumer service.
  • Its a terrible outrage. But it doesnt matter how outraged people get if they dont do anything about it. The only thing people can do that really makes a company change is stop doing business with them. It works. Look at Netflix when they tried to make "dvds shipped to your house" a separate product  called Quickster. People started leaving, so they fixed it. It should be the same with EE. They arent going to cancel a money making scheme like this because of bad press. You need to hit them where it hurts. For some reason there are certain products that people just wont leave, no matter how outraged they are. People were mad about the lightning cable when Apple decided to make everyone buy a new one because their latest phone wasnt compatible with the old one. They still bought the phone, and the cable. People get mad at the NFL for things like Ray Rice missing 2 games because he knocked his wife out and dragged her across the floor. But people arent going to stop watching. Nobody, especially in big business, cares about the internets opinion. People can keep tweeting and blogging all they want.
  • Erm, perhaps that's how it works in the US but over here many people tend to avoid companies that try tricks like this.
  • EE could raise profits if they IDed users likely to pay the 50p and deliberately gave them extra problems.
  • Good intentions, bad implementation. Just have a separate number and charge more for Premier service to use it.
  • Right something needs to be dine about that. They're useless
  • Carry on like this and they will have to rebrand to 'NN' Nothing Nowhere.   Fed up of these companies having rubbish 3G and 4G signals and squeezing us for more and more.  The fat cats get fatter and the service declines in quality.  Just do a comparison to Japan and look how much MORE we pay for LESS.
  • Not only EE, O2 service has deteriorated rapidly over the last few months. There are now times where I have 0 network, calls don't come through despite ringing on the callers line despite being on a 4g contract. O2 won't do a thing, the ombudsman service is a joke.. Just because I get service, can receives calls and texts even it is a rapidly one deteriorated they deemed out was not in breach :eck: .
  • Nothing Nowhere LOL
  • EE ARE A JOKE THEY ARE THE WORST SERVICE YOU COULD come across the customer service is appalling you ring and wait ages for call to be answered
  • Tell me about it, after the first calls when we realized he was being charged we switched to the landline but we had to start from the bottom of the queue.
  • They actually charge you 50p a minute! I'm having sort out a billing issue for my dad. Yesterday was his new billing period so the balance 0.00, after the calls to the so called free 150 number his bill was £6.50 outstanding... Seriously what a rip off.
  • First what if two of them had paid for that
    Second this an outrage because you pay money you don't have to wait on line people should leave this operator for another one
  • Even if you pay the 50p for priority your still going to get the same **** from the advisors. Its like paying for stupidity. Nevermind this, where the hell is the Cyan update for 920 users? EE need to sort out their priorities.
  • Hell yeah !
  • Exactly!!! got Cyan Vodafone last week, EE 920 - still waiting, its a joke.  Remeber the prices of 4G when it first came out?  EE are horrendous.  The others are not much better.  I will go to Giff Gaff as it seems like a really good community and they actually care.
  • I joined EE recently from T-Mobile, and was pretty shocked by this when i rang customer services....i knew this would be illegal!
  • Money talks
  • Well, that ain't fair. Are they ripping customers off?
  • Always knew EE were a shady company. This just tops it off. Their service was shit and their customer service worse. "pay for our shit customer service, please!" Nooope lol.
  • I have loved EE support up to this point and is one of the key reasons why I'm with them but this is a crazy stupid idea that should be dropped immediately.
  • used to be PAYG on T-Mobile and switched to o2 contract for my current Windows Phone, but this is a joke... as it's been said before, you could be on hold forever. Surely the OFT or Offcom will have a say in this...
  • You'd hope so eh!
  • There are a lot of pay toilets in England too. They like to charge you for the basics.
  • Yea, but you can just piss up the side of them for free and you don't even have to wait for the current user to leave first. Poor comparison.
  • Might work if they always alternate between one paying customer, then one from the nom-paying queue?
  • I was on the phone to them this morning, was given the option for 50p, declined it. Was put through to somebody in under 2 minutes.
  • That's the thing, you may have been lucky as you called them in the morning, when a lot of people at work, may not be able do so. Whereas, lunchtimes or evenings are usually the busiest period when people have more free time to make such calls. Thus, low amounts of customer calls in a morning compared to other times of the day. Either way, EE are still trying to rip customers off knowing that some people can not wait due to busy schedules -- terrible mate, just like vultures around a corpse.
  • Why does this not surprise me! Just another way to rip off it's customers, thank god i'm not one anymore.
  • Tmobile/EE whatever its called now are getting worse, as soon as my contract is up im swapping networks
  • Free market at its best....
    Or worst.
    As said, enough people have to vote with their feet, or this too will stand.
    Now those of us in the US get to wait for our bottom feeders like Comcast to follow suite.
  • What happens when everyone pays?
  • Your back to square one, its like offering an express check-out service with the same cashier system as normal but when everyone jumps in - it is no longer an express check-out service lol.
  • doesn't affect me, but this could pave the way for an eBay-style system with everyone bidding more to go front of the queue. But... I hope they're stopped in their tracks before this becomes a universal system across all networks/carriers.
  • EEs website is appalling.. And if they fixed the online selfhelp there would be less strain on the call centre.
  • The app for EE is absolutely terrible. Hope they get it sorted, just like their customer service.
  • a lot of people will also be (if not, already are) signing up for 4G/LTE contracts as EE have best coverage in UK, supposedly. But if they want to attract more customers, maybe stop with the expensive Kevin Bacon TV ads (they must be paying him a fortune) and spend the money on hiring more employees, implementing an online help system (or a better one) and increasing 4G coverage - O2 updated my contract automatically to 4G but I'll never be able to receive it even with a 4G phone & 4G sim card...
  • And lowering PAYG costs to under 20p a minute and per MB
  • Maybe if the EE customers all pay £1.00 to EE they'll finally release the Cyan update.
  • lol, but doubtful as they will want you to purchase a new phone /contract to get that.
  • I see a raid by OFCOM or the EU me thinks.......
  • I detest EE. I was on PAYG and it cost me 15p per text, on an Orange Animal 'deal'. It's as if they thought I was an animal...
    ...
    ...
    *low growl of rage*
  • This is my network. Bunch o' robbin' B's. Theve already dropped our free 08 calls, they don't even come out our allowance. Robbers. Biggest network, biggest scammers
  • So what if everyone chooses to pay 50p how well this solve the problem of waiting times?
  • EE are shocking. They are the polar opposite to three, looking for every opportunity to annoy or wring an extra few pounds out of their already overpaying customer base.
  • Another reason why EE have the worst customer service I've ever seen. They even come up with stupid ideas like this.
    My advice to anyone either already with or thinking of using EE leave and dont! Go to a proper provider like Vodafone, 3 or o2
  • Everyday that goes past makes me even happier that I forced T-Mobile into cancelling my contract early.
  •        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.