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O2 to offer compensation after data outage

Around 25 million O2 customers left unable to use their mobile data for almost 24 hours will be given compensation, the network operator has announced. 

O2 customers, as well as those with Giffgaff, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile and other firms which operate on the O2 network, were without data for much of Thursday 6 December. O2 only confirmed it had fixed the issue just before 3.30am on Friday 7 December.

O2's now announced that it will compensate affected customers, though if you've been left out of pocket by the outage you will need to make a separate claim. Many of the other mobile providers which use its network also plan to offer compensation. 

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What compensation will O2 customers get?

O2 says customers will be given credit for subscription charges, a top-up or a discount on a bolt-on purchase, depending on their type of contract:

  • Pay-monthly mobile phone and mobile broadband customers will be automatically credited an amount equivalent to two days of monthly airtime subscription charges. The credit will be based on a 31-day month – so if for example you pay £10/month for airtime, you'll get a 65p credit.

    To check how much you'll be due, look at your latest bill. Remember you'll only be looking at the 'airtime' charge for each month – so if your bill covers handset costs too, you won't get any of that back.

    You don't have to do anything to claim this compensation – it'll be added to your account automatically. O2 says this will be "by the end of January" at the latest.

  • Pay-as-you-go mobile phone customers will be given a 10% credit on a top-up in the New Year – eg, if you pay £10 to top up, £11 will be added to your account. But you'll need to buy a top-up in order to get the extra credit - we're waiting for confirmation from O2 on exactly when you'll be able to do this.

    The maximum top-up in a single transaction is £50, so you could get up to £5 extra credit.

  • Pay-as-you-go mobile broadband customers will be given a 10% discount on a bolt-on purchase in the New Year. Again though, you'll need to buy a bolt-on purchase to benefit from this discount, and we're waiting for O2 to confirm exactly when you'll be able to do this.

    The maximum bolt-on purchase is £75, so you could get a discount of up to £7.50. 

What about Giffgaff, Sky Mobile and others?

A number of other mobile providers 'piggyback' on O2's network, which means they use its signal – and around seven million customers with those firms were also affected by the outage. (See our Piggybacking guide for full info on which network really provides your signal).

These networks have also announced goodwill gestures to compensate for the disruption:

  • Giffgaff has set up what it's calling a 'goodwill fund' which will compensate both pay monthly and pay-as-you-go customers. It hasn't yet said how much customers will get, but you'll be able to choose between getting airtime credit or donating it to charity. 

    Giffgaff's in the process of sending emails to customers with instructions on how to claim or donate their share – you'll have until Friday 14 December to do this.

  • Lycamobile will be compensating its pay-as-you-go 'bundle' customers for two days' worth of credit. Lycamobile bundles run for 30 days, so a customer with a £10 bundle would be refunded 67p.

    The refund will be credited automatically to customers' accounts – Lycamobile says customers should see the money in their balances "imminently".

  • Sky Mobile gave all customers a day of free unlimited UK data on Saturday 8 December – so you shouldn't have been charged for any data you used on that day.

  • TalkTalk Mobile says that those of its customers with contracts that use the O2 network (not all do) should contact O2 directly to claim compensation.

  • Tesco Mobile will be giving both pay monthly and pay-as-you-go customers a free 2GB of data in January.

    If you're a Tesco Mobile customer, you should have been notified about this on Saturday. The data will be added automatically for pay monthly customers, but if you're a pay-as-you-go customer you'll need to top up between 1 and 31 January in order to get the extra data. 

I've been left out of pocket by the outage – can I claim?

While many mobile firms have said they'll pay compensation for the outage, if you've incurred additional expenses as a result of not being able to use mobile data – for instance, if you had to pay for a more expensive train ticket because you were unable to access your Railcard app – you may be able to claim more. Here's what to do:

  • Gather evidence. Make sure you have and keep any evidence relating to the extra expenses you ran up or charges you faced – for instance, screenshots or receipts. 

  • Complain to your mobile firm. You'll need to go through the official complaints procedure of whichever firm you're with (for example, see O2's complaints procedure). Make sure you include any relevant evidence to make your case.

  • Escalate your complaint if necessary to the ombudsman. If the complaint's still unresolved after eight weeks or you're unhappy with the outcome, you can escalate it to the Communications Ombudsman, which will assess your complaint independently – O2, Giffgaff, Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile are all signed up to it.

What does O2 say?

On Friday, an O2 spokesperson said: "We're very sorry about yesterday's data issue. We understand how important it is to stay connected, especially at this time of year.

"We'd once again like to thank our customers for their patience. We're doing all we can to make sure this issue doesn't happen again."

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