November 12, 2008

Back Online — The Comcast Experience.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:05 pm

Today the Comcast Technician arrived at the appointed time at the House by the Parkway. Pleasant enough fellow, upon entering, he said, “So, nothing’s working?” As we were taking the 15 or 20 steps to the room where the computer is located, I gave him the five-second summary, including the part where Comcast Telephone Support couldn’t get me online. He walked into the room as I was trying to relay the history of the problem, looked at the modem (two lights on) said, “The modem is on standby,” and with that he pressed the reset button and it began to work. He then installed a new length of cable between the modem and something under the desk.

Me: So, that’s it?

Cable Guy: Yep. Works fine now.

Me: What was the problem?

CG: Your modem was on standby.

Me: What? I must have pressed that same button twenty times and unplugged and re-plugged the modem twenty times.

CG: (shrugs – perhaps he thinks I am crazy?) Well, the switch is a little sticky. You should push it a bit towards the right when you push it in.

Me: Huh? Oh, and I also want to mention that this has happened a couple times in the past two weeks, and the problem corrected itself, without my doing anything. Other times, after I pressed the reset button ALL the lights on the modem came on and blinked simultaneously before it ultimately corrected itself, but not this time. You think maybe I need a new modem?

CG: Hmmm, yeah, maybe there is a problem with your modem even though it’s working fine now. You should probably get a new one, but I don’t have one on the truck. You could also pick one up at the Comcast office and install it yourself. It’s easy.


CG: If you have the problem again, call me directly (he gave me his number), and I’ll come by with a replacement modem. Please sign here.

Some thoughts:

1. I can only assume that the cable guy thought that I was lying about pressing the reset button multiple times, or that I was a complete idiot who never even tried to press the reset button.

2. I was quite surprised (maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised) to hear that a Comcast Technician doesn’t have modems on the truck. What the heck is in that truck?

3. I figure that for the forty or so bucks per month I pay for internet cable service, I shouldn’t have to deal with a modem with a “sticky switch,” and I damned sure shouldn’t have to deal with a modem that “probably should be replaced.”

4. I also figure that for the forty or so bucks per month I pay for internet cable service, I shouldn’t have to schlep off to the Comcast office, pick up a modem and install it myself.

5. While I appreciate the cable guy giving me his direct number, I wonder what will happen if I lose service three weeks from now. I suspect that if I use the number, he will not remember me and will direct me to call the office, which will start the annoying process all over again. In either case, it will involve yet another visit from the cable guy and more missed work.

6. Frankly, the only reason that I haven’t switched to Verizon is that I don’t want to go through the massive hassle of notifying all the right people and businesses of an e-mail address change. I may rethink that and begin preparing a list of who would have to be notified.

7. If you are thinking about getting high-speed internet service, think Verizon.

Update: Commenters share their Verizon experiences, pro and con.


  1. Newsflash oh funny one; I’m writing this on my backberry bcause my verizon dsl is offline… for over a week …for the 4th time this year.

    What caused it? The same as the other 3 times, nothing.

    Now I’ve got to wait to be home midday during the week so I DON’T get Steve from India, Ally from Bombay or Jim from RP reading to me from their GD manual when I call the service center taking an hour of my time. At least you get a human being w/knowledge.

    If it weren’t cause Verizon’s so cheap I would have gone w/another company long ago!

    Comment by Journey — November 12, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  2. Journey —

    Oy! I’m talking Verizon FIOS. Is that what you have?

    Comment by Jim — November 12, 2008 @ 9:53 pm

  3. No, I have DSL which is not as fast or as advanced in technology as FIOS.

    With Fios you do get a human, but then again, you should if you’re going to Pay 3x the cost of cable or dsl.

    Comment by Journey — November 12, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

  4. Verizon dsl is different than Fios. Dsl runs over what they call “old copper” – in other words they use the current phone lines – most of those are many years old and in bad shape. Those lines are subject to an incredible amount of wear and tear… most especially water damage. Fios is fiber optic, brand new, and not subject to water issues which makes one thing less that might cause problems. Not to mention it’s incredibly fast.

    While any service can have issues – it’s all in the response to your call for help as to whether they are worth the trouble. The fact that you have called multiple times and had issues with your modem before and specifically the fact that they already knew it was a modem issue before heading to your place, I find it inexcusable that the “repairman” had no replacement modem with him to finish the job properly. He basically did nothing to solve the problem – thus dumping it back in your lap. He should have gone to the Comcast office himself and brought you a new one and installed it. Sheesh!

    As for the email addy – set thee up a gmail or yahoo account and start switching now. Then it doesn’t matter who your provider is, you won’t have to hassle with it.

    Comment by Teresa — November 12, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  5. Sounds to me like you’re going to have to switch to Verizon sooner or later; might as well do it now and get it over with.

    Comment by DMerriman — November 12, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

  6. I have Verizon Fios…love the speed, but when something goes wrong, it goes very wrong. My router went south last Thursday. Fios routers are proprietary, can’t run to Best Buy and get a replacement, have to wait for Verizon to ship. Got three different stories about when to expect it, phone support stinks! The people that come to the house are great, provided you ever get through the call center and get a work order placed. So, router arrives two days later than promised, switch it on and start catching up on email. It all starts coming back blocked. The “dynamically assigned” Verizon IP address that the new router kicked on with belonged to a spammer and was blacklisted. Tech support on the phone again for an hour…can’t get the router to release the IP address and obtain a new one. That was Monday, still waiting on Verizon to fix it…one other note – Verizon used to pull the copper lines when they installed Fios, meaning you couldn’t just switch back to DSL if you decided you didn’t like it. Don’t know if that is still the case.

    Comment by Jackie D — November 13, 2008 @ 12:20 am

  7. ” Frankly, the only reason that I haven’t switched to Verizon is that I don’t want to go through the massive hassle of notifying all the right people and businesses of an e-mail address change”

    Start transitioning to webmail. That way if you decide to change ISPs you don’t have to change email addresses.

    Yahoo, is good, and Ureach is even better for some things.

    I can use it for email AND save all my bookmarks on their server. I use my bookmark to get here,

    I don’t think I have ever used a bookmark for this website from my on harddrive.

    Comment by Dan Kauffman — November 13, 2008 @ 3:47 am

  8. Whut T said. Including the gmail or yahoo email account.

    Comment by dogette — November 13, 2008 @ 6:57 am

  9. I have Verizon Wireless that I use for my pretty good most places and if you happen to be in a Verizon area it is nearly as fast as my Bright House Cable hook up at home.

    Comment by GUYK — November 13, 2008 @ 7:14 am

  10. I was having connection problems with my modem and HD TVs after I installed the new HD boxes in the living room and kitchen. I have my TV, cable and phone through the same cable company. They sent a guy (a kid, really, I think he was just out of high school) out and he tested all the lines in the house (ie: the rats nest of cables I installed in the walls to feed every room in the house) and decided that, in spite of me not having a clue of what I was doing, I somehow did everything right and then went outside to check things out. He ended up changing all the connections in the outside box between the street and the house, which were corroded, and everything came right up. He retested the signal strength inside again and told me I didn’t need the signal amplifier the last guy installed, but that it wasn’t hurting anything and suggested I move it to another location to help with the signals in the rest of the house. Then he got on-line and made some adjustment to my wireless set up, gave me a username and password and showed me how to reset the wireless channel so it wouldn’t interfere with the modem and cause a signal loop, gave me a bunch of new gold plated coax connectors and told me to replace all the plain connectors with them when I felt up to the task, then reset all my remotes so they would control any cable box and tv in the house, so I could carry a remote around with me and it would work anywhere. And then I had to force him to take a tip. I wrote a letter to the company telling them he was a real gem and to never let him go.

    Comment by gregor — November 13, 2008 @ 9:09 am

  11. Gregor,

    Send that guy to my house.


    Comment by Jim — November 13, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  12. My suggestion is to go out to Best Buy or your local computer store and buy a modem from them. You’ll have to wait for the morons at Comcast (yeah, I use them, too; they’re the only game in town for cable Internet here) to “provision” it, which can take anywhere from two to twelve hours depending on which “technician” you talk to (I was told two hours, and it ended up being 18, and then only because I called them and chewed them a new asshole), but at least you don’t have to wait for them to get around to finding a modem at the office and slowly make their way to your house. And if you decide to change providers, you have the equipment.

    Comment by John — November 13, 2008 @ 9:44 am

  13. Jimbo……

    I have Verizon ,recently my 1&1/2 year old modem went off the deep end. I called the Verizon help desk & got someone apparently home on leave from Al Queda who reluctantly went thru online testing to confirm that my modem was indeed finished. He then had me purchase a new one for about $40.00 which I could very easily hook up myself by just changing the four color – coded wires.

    When the new modem arrived sporting the same model number as the deceased unit, it had only three wires.Well this required another call to Verizon service where it took about 30 minutes for them to discover this was an upgrade which neccessitated an on-line reprogramming. I did not have the Al Queda chap this time,I think it was his cousin who was filling in with Verizon Service in between Bomb Making orders,but 20 minutes into the re-programming the phone connection was lost.

    This required yet one more phone call,this time I got an American dude apparently over there for a religious meeting with his guru who retraced everything previously done & completed the re-programming with my less then competent assistance after about 30 more minutes.

    The whole experience was distressing to say the least but it worked & my Computer is now working fine.

    I think I shall look for somebody local to do this job if it happens again.

    Comment by dudley1 — November 13, 2008 @ 10:46 am

  14. Jim,

    I apologize for the experience.

    You can also purchase your own modem.

    If you decide to continue renting the equipment from us, you have the option to pick one up at the local office or we can schedule a service call for a tech to install it for you.

    I believe that the technician suggested for you to pick it up as it might be more convenient for you rather than waiting for technician to install it.

    Please let me know if you need further assistance on this. I will be more than happy to assist!

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations

    Comment by Comcastcares1 — November 13, 2008 @ 5:33 pm

  15. You got a comcast guy to comment . . . is that for real? – Sorry bout the experience. I understand Fios is 3 times more expensive though. otherwise, I’d have switched long ago.

    Comment by oddybobo — November 13, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  16. One of the most satisfying things my wife and I have ever done was to fire our cable company! We suffered for years with Mediacom cable because they had a monopoly in our area. Here in coastal NC, we were very late in getting DSL service. When we could finally change, we were ecstatic! We went with satellite TV and internet service through the phone company, saving about $40 a month as a package. I can’t even begin to relate how awful the cable service was and how many outages we had. After Hurricane Isabel in 2004, we had no internet for 6 weeks! Our service was slow because there was a problem on a pole about 1/4 mile away. I saw the home technician put in a work order for the pole guys to perform the repair. When I found out that the repair was not done 4 months later, we fired their asses! It still makes me smile when I think about it! The only outage we have had was my fault when I spilled a whole glass of water right into the modem. I called the service guy late at night, spoke to a real, live person, and he overnighted a new modem to me with instructions at NO Charge! What a difference! What a relief. I really think the cable company shortened our lives through blood pressure spikes and general aggravation. I advise anyone to fire the Cable guys!

    Comment by Ernie Nilsen — November 13, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  17. Oddy – it must depend on where you are. I know Fios is not, and probably won’t be, available out in rural areas. It’s just too expensive to lay fiber optics for so few people – so it’s not even an option. In cities, the prices are comparable with cable.

    Remember – with any service you can have problems with the company. If you have big problems, you have the option to change to someone else. You may have issues with them too. It depends on how bad the service is from the current provider as to whether or not it’s worth the hassle of changing and taking the risk of other problems.

    BTW – Comcast guy – Jimbo has Comcast come do this stuff so he doesn’t have to. I believe he pays extra to be stiffed in this manner. If he was easily able to do this himself – he very likely would not be having these problems. If a customer pays for service and doesn’t get service – what’s the point of sticking around as a customer?

    Comment by Teresa — November 13, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  18. I’ve had FiOS for over a year & love it.

    Only one problem when the router died & they had a replacement FedEx-ed in 48 hours – no issues plugging it in where the other one had been.

    Good luck, love your blog.

    Comment by layzrydr — November 14, 2008 @ 12:07 am

  19. Jimbo…

    Come join the Collective, put your brown shirt on and get a Google account. I’ve had a Yahoo account (now used for ecommerce and the spam that it collects), hotmail, and others, and they’re good too, but I’ve dropped them all for my gmail account. I wuv it so much!

    No kidding.

    Comment by Mike R. — November 14, 2008 @ 12:33 am

  20. You should call customer service and ask for compensation on your bill for the days you were without service. They will discount your bill. It’s obviously not a huge amount of money, but it is something.

    Comment by DogsDontPurr — November 14, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

  21. Jim, one further suggestion – get one of those battery backup/surge suppressors for home theater systems. If your power fluctuates a lot, and with you living in Joisey I suspect your power is about as clean as it is here in SE Jawja, you may save yourself some grief.

    You can get ’em at Wally World.

    Comment by Ward Gerlach — November 15, 2008 @ 9:43 am

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