Update: AT&T Says U-verse Service Restored, Promises Credit

Four days after the first reports of a widespread outage of AT&T's U-verse service across the South, the company said Thursday afternoon that the service had been restored to "all customers affected by the outage" and promised to credit subscribers' bills.

Anita Smith, AT&T spokesman in Arkansas, emailed to Arkansas Business a company statement at 2:33 p.m.: "U-verse service has been restored for all customers affected by the outage. The software problem causing the issues was resolved by AT&T engineers early this morning. We are not pleased it took so long to fix the issue. AT&T will provide a credit to customers who were affected. We know our customers count on their U-verse service and we apologize for the inconvenience."

U-verse typically includes landline telephone, Internet and television service.

"We will issue credits to customers we know are impacted," Smith said. "Credits will appear on the customer’s bill 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. We’re crediting customers based on the length of their outage."

Despite AT&T's statement, some customers posting on its U-verse Facebook page complained that they still lacked service.

The outage had prompted a social media firestorm of subscribers complaining on Facebook, Twitter and other Web forums about the lengthy outage and AT&T's failure to provide information about the cause, when service might be restored, a number of how many had been affected and the location of those customers experiencing the breakdown.

Criticism, however, of how the company had handled the event continued. A sentiment from one customer on AT&T's U-verse Facebook page appeared to be typical:

"Service restored to 27613 [ZIP code] around 06/06.30 this morning.

"Many thanks to the customer service reps who had to absorb our complaints. They deserve merit increases for their professionalism. Also — many thanks to the good folks at Starbucks for being gracious hosts.

"As for AT&T management — let's hope you learned a valuable lesson in crisis management. Not sure we'll renew our service agreement when our current one expires. We have zero confidence in your service and ability to manage it."

On Tuesday, AT&T had blamed a server for the outage, but on Wednesday night, the company said the cause involved "a software upgrade."

Based on online customer comments, the outage appeared to have affected service in about 14 states, from North Carolina to Texas and Oklahoma, as well as numerous subscribers in Arkansas.

AT&T said Wednesday that less than 1 percent of its U-verse customers were affected by a widespread outage that began on Monday. The company said it had 7.4 million U-verse subscribers as of third-quarter 2012. One percent of that would be 74,000.

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