Why I hate Comcast

I'm a Comcast customer --- pity me. Yet again, I've been hit with speeds slower than a 2400 bps modem, an unexplained Internet outage, the dregs of customer support, and utter incompetency.

The problem started this morning when I tried to check my e-mail and browse the Web. The Internet was out. Restarting the modem and my home router didn't solve the problem. So I took a deep breath, knowing what was ahead of me, and called tech support.

Surprisingly, I got through quickly. Not that it was much help. I explained that my own home network worked fine, but I had no Internet access. The problem, the tech on the other end told me, was "congestion between the cable modem and the router."

This isn't the first time I've gotten this nonsensical explanation from someone from Comcast technical support, so clearly, part of their training teaches them to repeat this meaningless phrase, hoping to scare off the non-techies of the world.

I told him his explanation made no sense, and pressed him. Further discussion, though, only made things worse. The techie, from where he was, checked the state of my cable modem, and he said my cable modem was "trying to get online" but couldn't. I have no idea what that means, and I think he probably didn't, either.

He said someone would come out to my house to check on the problem, but not until some time tomorrow. There's nothing else, he could do, he said. We got off the line.

Two hours later, somehow, the Internet was working again. But now, several hours after that, Internet access is out sometimes, at other times it's on, but even when it is on, it's usually slower than an ancient dial-up modem. When I ping sites, I often get reports of 75% or 100% data loss.

I took another deep breath, called up technical support, and was put on hold for about 45 minutes. I reported what had happened since this morning. Someone would be out to look at the problem in two days, I was told. Why in two days, I asked, when this morning I was told someone would be out in one day? Because, I was told, Comcast detected that the Internet was working at my house, and so canceled the visit, without bothering to check with me or tell me they had canceled the visit. Nothing, I was told, could be done. I'd have to wait two days.

If Comcast is able to peer into my connection remotely, I asked, why didn't it schedule a technician to come to my house on its own, without waiting for me to report the problem? If it cancels appointments without checking, how about scheduling them without checking, to make sure that service gets back online as soon as possible? I received, as you might imagine, no intelligible answer.

So here I am, stuck with an on-again, off-again Internet connection from the world's worst ISP. I'll be waiting two days. And I'm counting the days until Verizon FiOS finally gets to Cambridge, MA, so I can abandon Comcast as an ISP forever.

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