AT&T Will Reimburse Customers for Massive Feb. 22 Outage


We’re in an age where we rely on our cellphones to communicate, work, and pretty much function. So when a major network goes down for the better part of the day, it’s apt to wreak havoc.

That’s exactly what happened on Feb. 22. AT&T customers were forced to go without service during a nearly 12-hour outage — many users were unable to make calls, send or receive text messages, and use the internet.

It was an aggravating experience for many people for sure. But for some, there were financial repercussions.

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These days, many people who are self-employed or own small businesses use their cellphones for voice communication rather than pay for a landline. It’s conceivable that people in that boat — as well as people who couldn’t access the internet on their phones — lost money during that extended communication outage.

Now, AT&T is taking steps to make its customers whole by offering a credit to those affected on Feb. 22. But the credit is pretty small, and it’s not available to everyone.

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Does a $5 payday make up for 12 hours of frustration?

AT&T has announced that it will be issuing eligible customers a $5 credit as an apology of sorts for the massive outage that occurred last week. And if you’re thinking, “Hmm, that’s not a whole lot of money,” well, you’d be right.

It’s conceivable that some people lost hundreds of dollars in income that day due to a lack of cell coverage and internet access. So while $5 to put into a savings account is better than nothing, it may not be nearly enough to make certain customers whole.

It’s also worth noting that AT&T will not be issuing a $5 credit to customers who are signed up for its Business or Prepaid plans. Customers with Cricket Wireless accounts, which AT&T acquired in 2014, also won’t get the credit.

What to do the next time your cell or internet service goes out

AT&T’s broad 12-hour outage was fairly unusual in terms of its scope and length. Though cellphone and home internet outages are pretty common, what made this recent one unique was the number of customers impacted and the number of hours it took until the situation was resolved.

Unfortunately, as a customer, you can’t predict when an outage will occur. But if your wireless carrier or internet provider lets you down, and it affects your income, speak up.

First, don’t assume that your carrier knows about the issue at hand. When your service goes out, report it at once.

Next, document the amount of time your service is out. Then, once it’s restored, call and request compensation.

Of course, you’re not necessarily going to get compensated for lost income on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Let’s say you’re a sales representative who normally earns $200 in commissions per day. If your cell service is out for eight hours and it costs you $200, don’t expect your carrier to send you a $200 check.

However, in that situation, it may be willing to cough up much more than a $5 credit. You may, for example, not have to pay for cell service that entire month. Or it might issue you a $50 credit, which is better than nothing.

It’s OK to complain

It’s not always so great to be that person who needs to speak to the manager every single time there’s a snag with a service you receive. But you shouldn’t hesitate to complain when your cell or internet service goes down for an unusual period of time.

This doesn’t mean you should be on the phone to your provider every time there’s a 10-minute interruption. But for an hours-long outage, definitely speak up.

That holds true for AT&T customers as well. Although the company has announced plans to issue $5 credits for those impacted by last week’s events, you never know if you might be able to negotiate a better payout. So it’s worth making that call — that is, if your cell service is functional enough to allow you to.

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