No wonder customers are going ballistic after dealing with Comcast. After experiencing 48-hours of Comcast support, it is not difficult to understand why the spirit of telco ineptitude evokes such strong reactions. (Full disclosure: the bits comprising this blog post were carried upstream on a Comcast cable connection.) Cable was not necessarily the first choice for broadband in our Philadelphia residence. But Verizon did not help its own case when different support reps on the phone had inconsistent stories about the availability of their fiber-to-the-home (FiOS) service in the neighborhood. Final answer appeared to be negative, and since cable is faster than DSL around the same price points (despite asymmetry between upstream/downstream speeds) the decision was easy.
Setup was anything but straightforward. On initial connection, all requests are routed to a Comcast page and the only download allowed is the setup software. This when problems started because the link advertised as 6Mbps began acting more like 6kbps. Several times the download stalled, speed dropped to zero inexplicably after starting out with familiar burst of broad-band quickness. After more random behavior and several attempts at power-cycling the cable modem, the infrastructure decided to give the blogger a break, turning on the bit tap just long enough to get the setup. (The Comcast technician who performed the installation could have dropped off a CD.) Enrollment process required two full runs, requiring either the account number or address to “activate” according to instructions. Still two tries is not particularly bad for a technology where “if at first you don’t succeed, reboot and try again” is the trouble-shooting mantra.
Problems started soon after. Initially the connection appeared to work and putting a WRT54GS wireless router in front of the cable-model was the first step to restoring a home office environment. But the connections were flaky, web browsing had frequent random pauses and interruptions. Investigating this is tough because the cable-modem must be power cycled before directly connecting, otherwise the IP address remains tied up. A call to Comcast revealed that the online activation in fact did not activate anything and that an old-fashioned phone call would still have been necessary to unleash the bits. (She was surprised that we were able to get anything working before Comcast threw the switch on their side.)
Meanwhile the DVR did not work correctly and refused to record. No problem, we are assured by Comcast representative. An appointment is made for Wednesday for a trained expert to fix the problem. Only the technician never showed up, in spite of assurance on the phone that the crew is on the way. The next day Comcast modifies the story with a twist: the appointment had been canceled (by unknown actors, one assumes) and they were never scheduled to visit in the first place.