Possible to get 'loss of business' damages from At&t?
May 20, 2014 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Recently At&t mistakenly shut off my business's internet for 6 days. One of the many techs we spoke to said they shut it down due to a new order for Fake Name, who is another tenant in our building. After some back and forth I received a letter stating that a $3k claim investigation had been initiated. Today I got a message saying the claim was denied b/c they don't do 'loss of business' damages, and that my account has been credited for the $120 cost of one month's internet. I have not responded yet. So I'm wondering - do they reeeally not do loss of business damages, or is there some way to push it with them? If I say 'this is unacceptable' to enough reps, will I get transferred to a magical department where they would actually consider such a claim?
posted by jenmakes to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What does your contract with them say?
posted by exogenous at 1:40 PM on May 20, 2014

Your service agreement with AT&T should spell out what exactly they're responsible for. My guess is that unless you have a negotiated SLA with them that explicitly includes loss-of-business coverage (at a particular $/day rate), it's not included and the cost of the service is all they are responsible for.

If it's not in your agreement there is no way you are just going to magically get three grand out of them. And you'd probably know if it was in your agreement because you'd be paying a lot of money for the service, over and above even a normal "business" connection.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2014

It is highly likely that your contract with AT&T includes a Limitation of Liability clause. Here's one covering AT&T's website. It is further highly likely that clause prevents loss of profits damages.

It's certainly not impossible to get compensation from them, but the chances are quite small unless there was some sort of special circumstance (for instance, if the internet was shut off due to deliberate action) involved.
posted by saeculorum at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2014

Do you pay for "business class" service? At $120/month, I'm guessing not, and you're probably out of luck.
posted by jferg at 1:42 PM on May 20, 2014

Best answer: If you have proof of damages in the form of lost business, and the amount is within your state's small claims limit, you can sue in small court. Chances are, AT&T's lawyers simply won't show up at your court-appointment date, thereby making you the default winner. From what I understand, this happens a lot because a lawyer's time + flights + hotel are likely more expensive than what you will ask for.

If they do show up, I think a lot depends on how you reacted when you discovered that your service was disconnected. If you reacted quickly, acted as though this were the end of the world, and repeatedly notified AT&T of the same, I think it's more likely that the judge will take your side.
posted by rada at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I work for a company that has similar negative business impact on our clients when we screw up, and our terms and conditions are written every which way by very expensive people to make sure we're not liable for any compensation. If you have a lawyer friend maybe get them to look at the contract to be sure, but it's supremely improbable you're going to get anywhere. If they did that for one person the legal liability across a large customer base would be problematic, to say the least. Sucks for you though; I appreciate your frustration, as we used to say.
posted by StephenF at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

The service agreement likely contains both a disclaimer for lost profits (sometimes referred to as "consequential damages") and an arbitration clause.

Your best bet is trying to get a prospective discount on your service.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:13 PM on May 20, 2014

Chances are, AT&T's lawyers simply won't show up at your court-appointment date, thereby making you the default winner

I thought that when I sued AT&T cellular in small claims for selling me a used phone as new, but they actually sent a non-lawyer to represent them which I think was legal in this situation. The bastard went on to accuse me of lying. We reached a settlement, but I did not get much in the way of damages. AT&T sucks.
posted by exogenous at 8:27 AM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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