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Does your provider owe you money for their service outages?

Taylor Gadsden

Jan 5, 2021 — 4 min read

Find out which providers are liable for service outages and will credit your bill in the event of an interruption.

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You spend a good chunk of your monthly budget making sure home services like TV, internet and home phone are up and running when you need them. But what happens when there’s an outage that lasts longer than just a few minutes? Are you still expected to pay for a full month’s service when you’ve been without it for over a day?

We break down the policies of major providers and how you can go about negotiating your internet bill.

Can I get discounted service after an internet outage?

The answer will largely depend on who your provider is and how long the outage may have occurred. Only a handful of providers outline how outages will affect your bill and most are ambiguous as to what customers can do to address the issue. 

Providers like Cox, for example, don’t address adjustments to your bill. However, they do state:

“Cox will not be liable for any delay, interruption of Service, failure of performance of Cox or Customer Equipment, or any loss, liability or damage directly or indirectly caused by circumstances beyond our control, including but not limited to acts of God, flood, explosion or other catastrophes, causes attributable to you, Your Equipment or your property, acts of third parties, national emergencies, acts of terrorism, insurrections, riots, wars, unavailability of rights-of-way, loss of use of poles or other utility facilities, material shortages, power outages or reductions, failure of any cable signal at the transmitter, failure of a satellite, strikes, lockouts, or work stoppages, or any law, order, regulation, or request of the federal, state or local governments having jurisdiction over Cox. The use and restoration of Services in emergencies will in all cases be subject to the priority system specified by federal regulations. ”

DISH, Frontier, Mediacom and Verizon Fios take a similar approach, often stating that the provider is not liable to service conflicts beyond and sometimes within their control. Verizon Fios’ Limited Liability section included in the terms of agreement signed by subscribers reads as follows: 

“In no event, shall Verizon, its affiliated companies, their employees, agents and contractors, have any liability for special, indirect, incidental or consequential damages resulting from the provision of or failure to provide the service, or from any fault, failure, defect or deficiency in any labor, material, work or product furnished in connection with the service (such as, but not limited to, service outages and any loss of use of wiring, jacks or equipment beyond the jack, and any damages resulting therefrom). These limitations of and exclusions from liability shall apply regardless of whether a claim or remedy is sought in contract, tort (including negligence and strict liability), or otherwise, even if Verizon has been advised of the possibility of such claim or damages. Further Verizon’s liability to you, whether, based in contract, tort, negligence or otherwise will be limited to the charges paid by you for the service within a twelve-month period preceding the accrual of your claim.”

Providers like AT&T, DIRECTV and Spectrum do state in their terms of use that customers may receive a credit in the event of a service outage, but they don’t explicitly state what factors would qualify someone for a refund. Let’s take a look at the fine print in Spectrum’s customer agreement.

“All Services are provided on an “AS IS” and “AS AVAILABLE” basis. In no event shall Spectrum be liable for any failure or interruption of Service, including without limitation those failures and interruptions resulting in part or entirely from circumstances beyond Spectrum’s reasonable control. Subject to applicable law, Spectrum may give credit with respect to Subscriber’s recurring monthly subscription fee for qualifying outages of Services.”

So there is wiggle room for credit in the event of a “qualifying outage,” but you’ll have to reach out to Spectrum in order to find out what exactly that means and who is eligible. 

Xfinity is currently one of the only major providers that define the length of time (24 hours) that an outage must occur before any credit is considered. Your request is only valid within 120 days of the outage so be diligent about following up soon after. The amount of the issued credit is at the discretion of Xfinity, but it won’t be more than the cost of your monthly bill since you’ll be receiving a pro-rata credit for the time affected.

See how other providers handle outages in their fine print details:

AT&T
DIRECTV
DISH
Frontier
HughesNet 
Mediacom

How to get your service outage credit

Call customer service

Even if your provider states they aren’t liable for a TV or internet outage and won’t be crediting you in the event of one, call anyway! Many customers have noted their success on user forums by simply giving their provider a call and talking through the issue. 

Let the representative know which services you currently subscribe to and for how long they were unavailable for your use. If the time is substantial, it’s more than likely you’ll receive a credit for the length of time your services were out.

One user suggests doing some simple math of your monthly cost versus the amount of time your services were down before calling. If the outage lasted less than 24 hours, you may be calling in for a refund amount of less than a dollar. 

If you’ve experienced a service outage, locate your provider’s customer service number from the directory below and explain your situation sooner rather than later.

Service outages can be a major pain, but if you know the proper steps to take, you may be able to save some money for the inconvenience of your TV or internet outage. 

Taylor Gadsden

Written by:

Taylor Gadsden

Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Taylor is a veteran member of the Allconnect content team and has spearheaded a number of projects, including a data piece on the top fiber cities in the U.S. and a troubleshooting guide on how to connect your p… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Read bio