We’ve all experienced the frustration of being put on hold. Depending on what organization you’re calling and what time you’re calling, those hold times can seem interminable.
But what if—for a small fee—you have an option to step to the front of the queue? Would it be worth a dollar or so to have a customer service rep answer in five minutes rather than 20, 30, 40 minutes?
A UK-based company thinks customers might jump at the chance. EE, one of the largest mobile telecommunications and internet service providers in the UK, has introduced its “priority answer service,” which lets customers pay £0.50 ($0.80) per call to be moved toward the front of the queue.
The service is available to customers on pay-by-the-month and SIM-only plans. “Ideal if you’re in a hurry,” the company says.
But when EE introduced the service in August, customers responded with an angry backlash, The Telegraph reported.
UK resident and self-described consumer activist Naomi Milward tweeted: “@EE No way! Customers should not have to pay to skip queues when they have already paid that company for a service or product!”
In The Telegraph’s online poll, 85 percent of respondents said they would not pay £0.50 to “jump a customer service queue.”
Peter Farmer, a writer for UK tech site trefor.net, came at the issue from a different perspective, saying that customers of all services have always been willing to pay extra to save time and reduce red tape; others also have been willing to save money by paying a lower price for lower-tier services.
“What we should do is welcome innovation, be it technological or in service delivery. The market (consumers voting with their feet) will ultimately decide whether EE’s move is right or wrong,” Farmer writes.
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