Day: May 11, 2007

Comcast frustrations

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been having intermittent problems with my internet service at home. Randomly, but nearly every day, we simply lose our connection. Our modem shows a connection with the home network, but no signal from the Comcast (our ISP) side. A quick glance at the router status confirms my network is A-OK, but there’s no traffic from the modem side.

“Power cycling” the modem (as Comcast likes to call it; it involves unplugging it, waiting for a minute and plugging it back in) will restore our connection, but at very slow speeds for periods that have lasted up to an hour (for example, a speed test last night showed 11 kbps, much slower than a 56K dial-up connection). After that, speeds ramp back up to the 4-6 Mbps I’m used to. Until the next time it goes down.

After putting up with this for a while, I decided to call tech support last night (*shudder*). After brief troubleshooting on their part (which I think consisted of pinging my modem, which didn’t tell them anything other than the fact that my connection was up), I got the dreaded question, “Do you have a router connected to your modem?” I’d gone through this before, and explained to the tech that I had no intention of disconnecting the router, connecting my PC directly to the modem, reconfiguring networking on my PC from static to DHCP, rebooting, etc., when the problem is clearly not on my side of the modem. From there the immediate response was that there was nothing else they could do but to send a tech out and that if the problem was with my equipment I’d be charged. I was a bit surprised that they weren’t even going to try having a level II tech look into it before sending a field tech, but I agreed to let them send the tech. Then I was informed that because I don’t have cable TV (just internet for me, thanks) there would be a $19.95 charge for sending a tech, with additional charges if the problem wasn’t with their equipment.

WTF? The fifty bucks I pay per month only grants me the possibility of accessing the internet? Apparently if I want actual service there may be additional fees.

After arguing this point for a few minutes, I hung up without accomplishing anything. Then I tried the online chat feature, and went through the exact same process, but without the $19.95 dispatch charge. So now I have an appointment for Saturday, some time between 8:00 and 5:00. Great.

Of course, I’m still not actually sure that I want to take the risk of having a tech come out. It’s an intermittent problem, and if I can’t recreate it when the tech is here, am I going to get slapped with a big fee? Even if we lose our connection while the tech is here, my experience is that he or she won’t do anything except get it working again and then leave with a resolution of “power cycled modem”. What I’d really like would be to be able to open a ticket and have someone who knows something take a look at my connection, and maybe even run a couple of actual tests on it.

Crap. All I want is to pay my bill and have a service that actually works. Is that too much to ask?

Edit: After posting, I decided to cancel the tech appointment. Next time I have a problem, I’ll start over and insist that someone actually troubleshoot the problem. Don’t know if that will get me anywhere, but it’s worth a shot.