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AT&T will offer $5 bill credit to customers after massive outage

An AT&T retail store.
An AT&T retail store. (Handout photo courtesy AT&T, Graphic by The Desk)

AT&T has offered a $5 bill credit to customers as an apology for last Thursday’s widespread outage that left many subscribers unable to make calls or surf the Internet on their mobile devices

In a statement posted online, an AT&T spokesperson said potentially impacted customers will automatically receive a credit on their account within one to two billing cycles, though most customers will see the credit applied to their next bill.

Eligible customers are those with consumer and small business lines, AT&T said. The telecom said it is working with its large-scale and government account holders to “address their concerns” in the future.

Prepaid customers, including those who pay for AT&T service through their prepaid subsidiary Cricket Wireless, are also not automatically eligible, though AT&T said it might extend certain service credits to them if they were proven to be impacted by the outage.

The outage was not caused by a cyberattack, but was instead the result of “the application and execution of an incorrect process used while working to expand our network.” ABC News reported last Friday that the issue was caused by an errant software update that was deployed during routine maintenance.

The glitch left millions of customers unable to use their wireless devices to make phone calls, send text messages or surf the Internet on AT&T’s network. It also meant some customers could not dial 9-1-1 from their phones, according to some local law enforcement agencies.

During the outage, AT&T encouraged customers to use the network’s Wi-Fi Calling feature, which allowed subscribers to place phone calls and send text messages using another wireless Internet connection.

In a letter to employees over the weekend, AT&T CEO John Stankey called Thursday a “challenging day for our company” and said AT&T “fell short of what we typically do so well each and every day.”

“No matter the timing, one thing is clear – we let down many of our customers, including many of you and your families,” Stankey wrote. “For that, we apologize.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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