Pay 50p to jump EE phone queue ; PRIORITY DEAL SPARKS FURY AMONG CUSTOMERS [Mirror (UK)]
(Mirror (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MOBILE phone giant EE has been slammed for making money from a call-jumping service.
Callers trying to get through to its customer service can now pay 50p to go to the front of the line.
A spokesman admitted that it "theoretically" meant others who aren't willing to cough up for the fee having to wait even longer.
EE, Britain's most complained about mobile operator, claimed the priority service for contract customers was meant for people who didn't want to wait to speak to an agent at busy times.
By agreeing to pay, they would be put near the front of the queue.
The company, which made Pounds 760million profit in the first half of the year, denied it amounted to a twotier service between those willing to pay and those who weren't.
But the decision triggered a backlash from customers. Andrew Griffiths told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme: "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."
Others took to social networking website Twitter to vent their anger.
One person wrote: "Genius. Now you have to pay for EE to answer the phone", while another said: "EE trying to squeeze more out of customers". Someone else posted: "They're becoming the Ryanair of phone networks."
Figures from telecoms regulator Ofcom show EE was the country's most complained about paymonthly mobile operator between January and March.
At 0.12 per 1,000 customers, EE's complaint volumes were twice the industry average and largely driven by issues related to complaints handling, billing and issues with changing provider.
EE trumped rivals by launching 4G services first, backed by an ad blitz starring Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon. Its 4G customer numbers doubled to 4.2million in the first half of the year.
The company insisted it was doing a lot to boost customer service, including bringing 1,000 call-centre jobs back from abroad.
A spokesman said: "We have very large call centres and a lot of staff to help customers." He claimed offering the queue-jumping option would have a "marginal" impact on non-payers.
EE monthly contract customers aren't charged for phoning customer services from their handset but payas-you-go users are.
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