WELL-OFF mobile phone customers can pay a fee to avoid their call being left on hold for potentially minutes on end.
T-Mobile and Orange users can jump to the front of the queue and have their enquiries handled first in return for a 50p charge.
Parent company EE has launched what it calls a ‘priority answer service’ which around 26 million customers can take advantage of.
Helpline callers will hear a recorded message asking if they want to pay the fast-track fee, which will appear on the next bill.
The service is on offer to all customers, regardless of whether they are on a monthly contract, pay-as-you go or SIM only deal.
EE said it had introduced the charge to help pay for investment in its stores and call centres.
But experts warned it would create customer service which discriminated against the less well-off.
Rob Kerr, mobiles expert at telecoms price comparison website uSwitch.com, said such a move could create a two-tier system.
“It’s all very well slashing waiting times for those who pay the 50p premium - but EE’s not made it clear if that means non-priority queuers will be left hanging on for longer than usual as a consequence,” he said.
An EE spokesman said: “We’re investing significantly in our retail stores, contact centres and account management websites.
“To contribute to this and other investments in service, we have introduced some small charges for certain customer services.”