Pay For Jump The Queue : Consumer Perception Of Fairness

2064 Words Dec 8th, 2014 9 Pages
Paying to Jump the Queue: Consumer Perception of Fairness in Various Social Contexts

On August 6, 2014, EE, the largest telecommunications firm in the UK, introduced a new option called Priority Answer which allowed its customers to pay £0.50 to jump the customer service queue. The introduction of the option caused an uproar from its customers; some customers called it unfair, others complained that good customer service should be standard, yet others advocated boycotting or leaving the firm’s service altogether (Lariviere 2014; Swinscoe 2014; Trotman 2014). The backlash of angry customers against EE was not an isolated case as the queue-jumping options in other domains such as airport security checks, theme parks, HOV lanes, and hospitals were initially met with similar criticisms on fairness and ethics grounds (Millward 2009; Sullivan 2011; Wallop 2010).
Such criticisms appear to be counterintuitive to the conventional wisdom that having more options, or choice, is generally desirable. Decision makers are facing this conundrum as increasingly more firms and institutions are implementing or contemplating queue-jumping options, either in its purest form or in concept, to maximize profits and efficiency in today’s competitive environments. Firms may attempt to attract more customers and increase profits by offering variations of their goods and services to capture more of the consumer surplus. Still other institutions such as governments strive to achieve greater efficiency…
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