AT&T's apology for Thursday's outage should stretch to a cup of coffee

Check your service level agreements to make sure you'll at least get a slice of cake when your vendor goes down

The $5 credit AT&T is offering to customers affected by last week's major outage highlights that compensation when a provider suffers downtime is unlikely to get even close to the inconvenience or cost to business.

AT&T said Thursday's outage was "due to the application and execution of an incorrect process used while working to expand our network" rather than a cyber attack. The company said: "We are investing billions to grow our network and deliver an exceptional customer experience."

For many, that "exceptional customer experience" equated to an outage of its cellular service that affected thousands. AT&T had to urge its customers to try Wi-Fi calling while some US services, such as the San Francisco Fire Department, told AT&T customers to switch to a landline if they could not get through on the 911 emergency line.

AT&T has apologized for the incident. "To help make it right, we're reaching out to potentially impacted customers and we're proactively applying a credit to their accounts."

And that credit? The average cost of a full day of service, according to the company. Or one $5 credit per account, which should turn up within two bill cycles.

The credit applies only to the "portion of consumer and small business customers most impacted by the outage." Customers on the AT&T "Business" platform will be taken care of separately.

Unsurprisingly, customers have not reacted well to AT&T's attempts to "make it right." By our reckoning, it would barely cover the cost of a coffee from a well-known US caffeinated beverage maker, let alone a pint of beer from the local pub near Vulture Central.

One customer said: "A single $5 credit per account with multiple phones is an insult. You failed here." Other responses were dripping with sarcasm: "A whole $5?? Wow!!! Thank you so much for your generosity and understanding."

However, responses along the lines of this: "Not just Thursday it's still ongoing. are you still demanding payment for intermittent service? I've lost/am losing money because of this and I haven't had an actual update on the situation at all," should give businesses pause for thought.

Whatever a user might think of AT&T and its attempts to deal with the fallout from its recent outage, the company is not the only one to have an occasional incident. Many companies proudly point to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) but are less transparent regarding the true cost to the customer of an outage.

Being given a wad of credits in return for a cloud vendor tripping up is all well and good. However, a user should also factor in the cost to business of an outage. Will your SLA compensate you for the full financial loss? Or will it buy you a coffee and promise to try and not do it again?

AT&T's offer to consumers and small businesses is a reminder to check your contracts and exactly what that SLA really means. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like