Hit by AT&T iPhone SOS outage? You could be due compensation

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island
(Image credit: iMore)

Last week, a huge cellular outage swept the U.S., with customers of some of the biggest carriers stuck with iPhones in SOS mode (No Service on older devices). But there’s some good news — if you were affected, you may be eligible for compensation.

Many AT&T customers could not make calls or texts for an extended period on Thursday. Now, AT&T has announced that impacted customers will receive a $5 bill credit per account and that they should expect the credit within the next two billing cycles.

A statement on the company’s website reads, “We apologize for Thursday’s network outage. We recognize the frustration this outage has caused and know we let many of our customers down. We understand this may have impacted their ability to connect with family, friends, and others. Small business owners may have been impacted, potentially disrupting an essential way they connect with customers.

To help make it right, we’re reaching out to potentially impacted customers and we’re proactively applying a credit* to their accounts. We want to reassure our customers of our commitment to reliably connect them – anytime and anywhere. We're crediting them for the average cost of a full day of service.”

Those affected with an AT&T Business account, prepaid account, or with AT&T’s sister brand Cricket, are not entitled to this compensation, although the company told CNET, that those users will “have options available to them if they were potentially impacted by the outage."

If you are concerned about your privacy and data from the outage, rest assured you have nothing to worry about. AT&T claims the initial outage was caused by the “execution of an incorrect process used while working to expand our network, not a cyber attack.”

The company adds, “We have not seen any evidence and have no reason to believe the Feb. 22 outage involved a third-party or that customer data was compromised during the event.”

Measly compensation

The compensation available to those affected by Thursday’s outage appears to be fairly limited. Let’s be honest: $5 might not even get you a cup of coffee anymore in most major U.S. cities. The $5 credit is also only per wireless account, not per line, so if you own multiple devices under the same account that were all offline for a large portion of Thursday, you’re only getting $5.

If you’re not satisfied with AT&T’s offering, the best thing you can do is reach out via phone to the provider and request further compensation. AT&T’s spokesperson told CNET, “if someone needs to talk to us about their situation, our call centers are available."

Somehow, this doesn’t seem like the end of this story, considering the impact the outages caused on Thursday. Stay Tuned to iMore for further information.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • Lee_Bo
    And before all the “I use my device for work / I must be accessible” comments start, let me offer this:

    If you’re THAT important to people and need to be accessible 24/7, then it’s YOUR responsibility to have a backup plan in place for such situations, and not the carrier’s responsibility.

    What’s that? You don’t want to carry multiple devices or have rollover phone numbers? Then don’t blame the cellular company when it goes down and you have all your eggs in one basket.

    Take your $5 and be happy.
  • EdwinG
    Lee_Bo said:
    If you’re THAT important to people and need to be accessible 24/7, then it’s YOUR responsibility to have a backup plan in place for such situations, and not the carrier’s responsibility.
    It's your employer's responsibility. They're the one that pay for the service if the device is to be used for work. If they don't, you shouldn't be available when you're not available.

    Also, usually, companies do have backup systems for this: Microsoft Teams, Cisco Jabber, 3CX. All you need is an Internet service somewhere :)
  • iebock
    It's not that I am that important but for me I don't have a personal land line and my wife and I are both on my account as is my mother and 7 other people. The issue there is they are getting away with murder on this $5/account. If all 10 of us had individual accounts they would be getting the $5 each. Instead I have 10 lines on my account and only getting a measly $5 for all 10. That's $.50/per line. OOOOooo thank you so much.
  • Annie_M
    I was affected by the outage. However, I was able to text because I was connected to Wifi. I was also home because I was on vacation. Had I been at work, I would still have been connected to Wifi, so my husband, friends, and family could get ahold of me. I did go to the grocery store during the outage. The store has wifi, so I could text my husband about a couple of things he wanted.

    While it's nice that AT&T is offering compensation, I didn't expect it and I'm not even sure the issue was AT&T's fault. There is an investigation taking place and unless I've missed something, the results of that haven't been released.
  • EdwinG
    Annie_M said:
    While it's nice that AT&T is offering compensation, I didn't expect it and I'm not even sure the issue was AT&T's fault.
    AT&T confirmed the following day that it was a failed maintenance operation.

  • Trees
    If I understand correctly, there was no "AT&T iPhone SOS outage", rather an AT&T outage which caused impacted iPhones to enter SOS mode. The outage was not also exclusive to iPhones.