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BlackBerrys Are Back, But Will Refunds Follow?

Phone companies aren’t likely to issue credit en masse, but compensation is still possible. / Getty Images

RIM says BlackBerry service has been restored, which is some comfort for the users around the world who have suffered withdrawal over the last several days. The largest telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates did say it would compensate users en masse for service interruptions, but BlackBerry users in the U.S. may not get the same treatment.

In a press conference this morning, RIM co-Chief Executive Officer Mike Lazaridis said the company has only just begun to consider compensating put-out users. “Our priority right up until this moment was making sure our system was up and running,” he said.

When service outages occur, it’s typically up to the phone companies to decide whether to compensate users who’ve been affected, says Todd Day, a mobile and wireless communications analyst at Frost & Sullivan. Typically, that would take the form of a credit to a phone bill, extra minutes or additional data use.

Telecoms outside of the UAE haven’t said whether they’ll offer refunds or credits, and in the U.S., there are a few reasons they might not: The service disruptions seem to be affecting BlackBerry Messenger and Internet browsing, which are processed by Research in Motion’s own network – not by the carriers, which provide service for phone calls. (RIM did not respond to requests for comment.) Separately, consumer contracts with carriers don’t include a guarantee of service. In other words, the phone companies don’t promise that customers’ phones will work all the time.

But the last thing carriers want is a slew of unsatisfied customers. After all, when a phone stops working, users don’t call the phone’s manufacturer, they call the phone company. And while complaining won’t restore service, it could prove fruitful. Phone companies’ customer service reps can award credits and other restitution on a case-by-case basis, says Charles Golvin, an analyst covering wireless communications for Forrester Research.

Some customers may even find hidden opportunity, Golvin says. If your contract is set to expire in the coming months, now may be a good time to ask for an early upgrade. That’s well within their power, he says. “The best advice here is, you never get what you don’t ask for,” he says.


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    • not one thin dime will change hands as a result of all the trouble the outage caused.
      much as it is in the telcom world since 1-1-84, it’s your equipment, nope, it’s the line, nope it’s the carrier, nope it’s your equipment… it will be the same thing, it’s RIM, no it’s your ISP, nope, it’s sun spots, nope it’s RIM, nope it’s tall building, nope, you’re just out of luck.

    • Everyone who has a blackberry which uses the blackberrt services like blackberry messenger should get there credit back. Blackberry users pay money monthly, but when the blackberry service is down no one can use it which waste money.

    • Remote erase and push instead of pull is all iPhone to deal the fatal blow.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.