Comcast verses Mother Nature.



  • There's been a lot of WTFs about  phone tech support people doing stupid things because they're ridgidly following a script without thinking if it applies to the current situation.The too-rigid scripting problem sometimes affects in-person techs too.  

     

    Recently my parents' (And several other people in the neighborhood) couldn't connect to the Internet after a lightning strike. 

    The technician from Comcast made a lot of effort to solve the problem, but it was very clear from his problem-solving technique that he was looking for a SINGLE point of failure.  He would replace one component (The cable-modem, or the router) and test to see if that fixed the problem, when it didn't he would put back the original component and try replacing a different component.

    Finally I was at my parents place when the cable guy came over for the third time, and as I watched him go through this futile exercise, I kept telling him this was damage from a LIGHTNING STRIKE and it was perfectly reasonable to expect that more than one thing was damaged. He agreed with me completely and but didn't change his procedure at all!!  It was like he didn't understand that the conversation he was having with me had anything to do with the rote procedure he was going through.

    Finally I had to do his job for him as he watched.  It turns out that the coax cable splitter, the cable-modem, the router, and the NICs in my parents' computers were ALL damaged, and all had to be replaced.   (I'm not sure why their TVs survived. Or the motherboards the NICs were connected to, for that matter.)

     

    A lot of people in that neighborhood switched to DSL that fall.

     



  • @VRAndy said:

    There's been a lot of WTFs about  phone tech support people doing stupid things because they're ridgidly following a script without thinking if it applies to the current situation.The too-rigid scripting problem sometimes affects in-person techs too. 

    The reason for this is, typically, because the people following the scripts aren't qualified to do anything but follow the scripts.



  • Ah, Comcast. When they came & hooked up my service, the technician sat down in front of my PC, moved the mouse, and stared blankly at Gnome for a few minutes before he found Firefox. He then proceeded to try to change my homepage to comcast.net, which was pretty irritating (and amusing at the same time, as Windows places this under "Tools", whereas it's under "Edit" on Linux).



    Anyways, I told the tech - call customer support and have them push the modem, as there's NO WAY your cd is going to run. After dismissing me, the technician was quickly flustered (strange OS, and I didn't bother to tell him Firefox was running NoScript and Comcast was still blacklisted). He finally figures out that he needs to call and have the modem pushed.



    Now, the technician had one of those walkie-talkie phones where anyone in the room can hear what you're saying on either end, so he calls to have them push the modem. Here's basically how that conversation went:



    Guy on Phone: "Look, it's really simple, just put in the CD, and go to Start > My Computer..."

    Tech (interrupts Guy): "There is no start button. This guys running... (turns to me) what did you say this was again?"

    Me: "Linux."

    Tech: "He says he's running Linux"

    Guy on Phone: "What version of Windows is that?"

    Me: facepalm



  • @jchannell said:

    He then proceeded to try to change my homepage to comcast.net, which was pretty irritating
    Sorry - you say you watched him do this, and the next sentence out of your mouth wasn't "What the fuck do you think you're trying to do?"?



  • I did ask him - he said he had to do it as part of his contract. I then said "you know if you change that I'm just going to switch it right back to about:blank, right?"

    😃


    And before anyone asks, yes I did end up completing that setup myself...



  • @jchannell said:

    I did ask him - he said he had to do it as part of his contract. I then said "you know if you change that I'm just going to switch it right back to about:blank, right?"

    😃
    And I thought that’s what the CD was for, to run software that screws your computer over, and constantly changes the homepage.



  • I don't think it would make one lick of difference on my Linux box.



    The technician ended up leaving that CD. I can verify that Comcast's setup cd won't work in Wine. 😛



  • It might be terribly amusing if one of those CDs ended up on a torrent site.
    @jchannell said:

    Tech: "He says he's running Linux"

    Guy on Phone: "What version of Windows is that?"

    Me: facepalm
    You: "It's not Windows."

    Tech: "Oh we only support Windows."

    You: "But the problem has nothing to do with my OS!"

    Tech: "Sorry"



  •  Comcast was worse with me.  Here's how it went:

     Me: Hi, I just got cable internet, but I'm not getting an IP.
    Them: OK, What version of Windows are you running.
    Me: Not Windows.  Linux.
    Them: we don't support Linux.  You can't connect to the cable modem using Linux.
    Me: (lying) Oh, I'm sorry.  I meant XP.  Windows XP.
    Them: OK.  Did you run the install CD?
    Me: Sure......
    Them:  OK, clickety, clickety, we're resetting your modem now (I'm assuming this is them "push"ing the modem).
    Me: OK, there we go.  It's online.



  •  When I first activated my Comcast account I found that their activation website  (The one it forces all traffic to until you type in your magic number) was IE only.  I run  Linux.

     No problem, it gives a number to call if you don't have IE.

     

    I call them up, explain the situation ... and they offer to mail me a disk with IE on it.   After I asked to be transfered to the supervisor he said "Oh, wow, man. You can get Internet on Linux now?"

    They eventually told me that I would have to borrow a Windows PC to activate the account.

     

    Closer examination showed that there was a javascript lock-out preventing firefox from viewing the page.  After bypassing that, I got to a page with an executable download. With the help of WINE I figured out that program was just a EULA click-through with an embeded IE window pointing to the REAL activation page.  

     

    So I pointed Firefox there.  Done.



  •  Not so long ago, I had repeated visits from Comcast Technicians because of a problem that was clearly at their local node (neighbors were having the same troubles), but they insisted on going over everything from the pole on into my house just to have done something.  There was one exception which was nice.  I met him at the door, he says "It looks like there's a problem with the local node, there's not much I can do here."  I said, "I know."  He told me they had techs searching for the source of the noise and went on his merry way.  It took months of reports from multiple people in my neighborhood for them to finally start investigating the real problem.

     On another visit, I made the mistake of sitting in the next room while the tech was fiddling with my cable modem.  He power cycled my router (running OpenWRT), which was a little annoying since it was at 500+ days of uptime.  Even more annoying, when he asked me to test it, the router couldn't get an IP.  I asked if he did anything with the router, he tells me that he power cycled it because "you have to do that when you power cycle the modem".  I'm pretty sure that even the default firmware on most consumer routers has a DHCP release/renew.  I tell him the router's not getting an IP, and he responds "Oh, we don't support routers".   Unfortunately, I was too polite to respond how I really wanted to:  "Then don't fucking touch it!"



  • @Minos said:

     Not so long ago, I had repeated visits from Comcast Technicians because of a problem that was clearly at their local node (neighbors were having the same troubles), but they insisted on going over everything from the pole on into my house just to have done something.  There was one exception which was nice.  I met him at the door, he says "It looks like there's a problem with the local node, there's not much I can do here."  I said, "I know."  He told me they had techs searching for the source of the noise and went on his merry way.  It took months of reports from multiple people in my neighborhood for them to finally start investigating the real problem.

     On another visit, I made the mistake of sitting in the next room while the tech was fiddling with my cable modem.  He power cycled my router (running OpenWRT), which was a little annoying since it was at 500+ days of uptime.  Even more annoying, when he asked me to test it, the router couldn't get an IP.  I asked if he did anything with the router, he tells me that he power cycled it because "you have to do that when you power cycle the modem".  I'm pretty sure that even the default firmware on most consumer routers has a DHCP release/renew.  I tell him the router's not getting an IP, and he responds "Oh, we don't support routers".   Unfortunately, I was too polite to respond how I really wanted to:  "Then don't fucking touch it!"

     So much for him saying they don't support routers after he cycled the power on yours. Hey! I can screw up your setup, but if I mess it up, I don't have to support it !



  • Every August for several years Comcast service would go out for my street.  All of us would call and comcast would dispatch techs.  The problem was the tech's never talked and always did the same things over and over again (recycling the modem, and checking the lines in the houses).  Each tech would swear it was a problem with the pole and wander off.  then the next tech would come and the cycle repeat.  The whole street would get refunds for the month of august.  and come september the situation would resolve itself.  All of us tried to convince comcast to send out a bucket truck.  Often noting the reccomendation from the techs.  One never Arrived.  after a few years of this the whole street switched to rcn and the problem never came back,



  • @VRAndy said:

    A lot of people in that neighborhood switched to DSL that fall.

    As if ADSL would survive the lightning...



  • @galgorah said:

    Every August for several years Comcast service would go out for my street.  All of us would call and comcast would dispatch techs.  The problem was the tech's never talked and always did the same things over and over again (recycling the modem, and checking the lines in the houses).  Each tech would swear it was a problem with the pole and wander off.  then the next tech would come and the cycle repeat.  The whole street would get refunds for the month of august.  and come september the situation would resolve itself.  All of us tried to convince comcast to send out a bucket truck.  Often noting the reccomendation from the techs.  One never Arrived.  after a few years of this the whole street switched to rcn and the problem never came back,

    I've never had a problem with Comcast.  My connection never fails and I usually get around 15/3 Mbps.  I'm probably going to upgrade to 50Mbps soon, whenever I get around to it.

     

    I hear lots of people hating Comcast but I love it.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I hear lots of people hating Comcast but I love it.

    Yes, Comcast is great.  Until you have a problem.  Then they are the spawn of Satan.  

    I moved recently (from Burlington, MA to Arlington, MA) - I had RCN in Burlington with absolutely no problems.  In Arlington, I've got Comcast.  The internet service goes out an average of 2x / week and I have to power-cycle the thing.



  • @Auction_God said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    I hear lots of people hating Comcast but I love it.

    Yes, Comcast is great.  Until you have a problem.  Then they are the spawn of Satan.  

    I moved recently (from Burlington, MA to Arlington, MA) - I had RCN in Burlington with absolutely no problems.  In Arlington, I've got Comcast.  The internet service goes out an average of 2x / week and I have to power-cycle the thing.

     Yeah, same here. I know some people who have great Comcast service, and some just curse at them because they have to keep resetting the modem.



  • As if ADSL would survive the lightning.

     It's not that DSL would survive lightning. It's that COMCAST technicians were unable to fix the problem, and had no problem leaving it in a non-working state without offering you a next step.  (But continuing to bill as if nothing had happened.)

    When stuck in that sort of bureaucratic infinite loop, the easiest way out is to simply switch providers.   (Unless you personally know how to fix it yourself.)



  • @pitchingchris said:

    @Auction_God said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    I hear lots of people hating Comcast but I love it.

    Yes, Comcast is great.  Until you have a problem.  Then they are the spawn of Satan.  

    I moved recently (from Burlington, MA to Arlington, MA) - I had RCN in Burlington with absolutely no problems.  In Arlington, I've got Comcast.  The internet service goes out an average of 2x / week and I have to power-cycle the thing.

     Yeah, same here. I know some people who have great Comcast service, and some just curse at them because they have to keep resetting the modem.

    Let me give another story of Comcast incompetency....

    Prior to Burlington, I lived in Winchester, MA.  This town is notable in that all the utility stuff is underground - that'll be important to the story in a bit...

    Periodically I would no longer have internet service (tv would still work fine).  After a call to tech support, a technician was sent out.  Hooray!  I've got internet service again.  This cycle repeated, and on the 3rd attempt I asked the technician what was the problem?    His answer:  Periodically a Comcast van would roam the neighborhood and check all the wiring and "tighten up the neighborhood" (his exact words).  They would install filters on wires to homes that did not subscribe to internet (apparently keeping the signal clearer).  And the technician then said that since the wire going to my house was unlabeled, they routinely put a filter on the wire which would stop internet signals from working... You would have thought that after a couple of calls they would have labeled the wire going to my house?   I asked him to label the wire and he said he didn't have any labels (they use these fancy plasticized ones). 

    Needless to say, after the tech left, I went out, opened the underground box, and labeled the wire.  Presto, no problems after that.



  • @pitchingchris said:

     Yeah, same here. I know some people who have great Comcast service, and some just curse at them because they have to keep resetting the modem.

    I actually have more uptime with my current Comcast cable internet (2-3 outages/week) than I did with Time Warner back in Ohio (5-7 outages/week), but Comcast's customer service is about on par with Dell's home user service plan, somewhere near dripping lemon juice into an open wound. In addition to this sort of mess (or this one, too), they have thrown at me all sorts of stereotypical customer service gaffes in the one year that I have been paying for their service.

    A few highlights:

    • Telling me that they could not push the modem from their end as long as a router was connected to it.
    • Telling my wife on the phone that having a wireless router could ruin our cable connection
    • (Related to the linked story) Also telling her that, once her remote control stopped working, the only way to fix it was to replace the cable box, wiring, and remote controls.  I fixed the problem when I arrived home by power cycling the cable box.
    • NOT SHOWING UP for installation appointments!
    • Refusing to actually run cable from my cable box to the outlet.  (Thankfully, I had a store of my own coax that I could use.)
    • Giving me the *wrong* cable box for my cable plan/cable connection. (It had poor signal quality, took seconds to browse between chanels, and a half-minute to load guide data.)... I learned that it was the wrong box when the tech came again months later, noticed the box while working elsewhere, and decided to give me the correct one.
    Yeah.  Comcast happens.

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