AT&T to automatically credit bills of U-verse subscribers impacted by outage

AT&T (NYSE: T) said Thursday that it had restored U-verse to the "vast majority" of subscribers in Florida, Texas and other states impacted by an outage that began Monday.

The telco said it would automatically credit the bills of subscribers who lost cable TV, high-speed Internet and phone service. That's an uncommon step for telecom providers, who typically will only offer to credit the bills of subscribers for hours or days of lost service if they call a customer service representative.

"We will issue credits to customers we know are impacted. Credits will appear on customers' bills within 30-60 days. If they haven't seen a credit on their bill within 60 days, they can call us to make sure they receive it," an AT&T spokeswoman told FierceCable.

AT&T said on Tuesday that the outage was sparked by "an issue with a server that supports U-verse." The company hasn't yet offered additional details about what caused subscribers in its Southwest and Southeast regions to lose U-verse.

Pay TV providers will sometimes offer automatic billing credits to subscribers impacted by extended outages. In the weeks after Superstorm Sandy, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) issued automatic credits to subscribers in the New York City area who lost service because of power outages and damage to its network. Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) required subscribers to call its customer service representatives to request a refund, which saw the MSO receive some criticism from subscribers and the Communications Workers of America. Cablevision sued the union in December after it began calling subscribers to inform them of its policy.

AT&T is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings this afternoon. Look for the company to field questions from Wall Street analysts related to the outage during its earnings call, which begins at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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