February 15, 2006

The Outage

My internet has been connected to an "outage" for the past six days. Outage is highlighted because that is the word Comcast used to describe my problems. Last week Friday my problems began. The online light on my surfboard modem was a blinky-blink-blinking from time to time. Websites loaded slow or not at all.

IPConfig showed a connection and trace routes ran fine... err when or if they ran. My games like EVE Online, World of Warcraft, Battlefield 2, Guild Wars, and so forth just would not stay connected if they managed to get connected at all.

So it was about a six day "outage" of non-reliable connectivity. You would think since I called on the first day of the problems and followed up two other times during that period I would be entitled to some form of a discount this month.

I spoke with a customer service rep today at Comcast about just such a topic.

The agent was able to confirm my account was no longer connected to an "outage", but only after refusing to believe I correctly power cycled my modem. Three calls this week confirming I was still connected to the "outage" and three different agents walked me through turning the power on and off my modem. BTW there is NOT ONE, BUT TWO automated messages before you can even talk to an agent that describe in detail that most common problems can be solved by power cycling your modem!

The fact that this outage was days old wasn't really that frustrating to me, but the fact that they knew I was connected to an outage and failed to contact me with any information regarding it is frustrating. If their system could identify that my connection was part of the affected area then how damn hard is it to auto-generate an e-mail to tell me or call me based on the fact I reported the issue?

Of course I was denied my refund and I asked to speak to a supervisor. But when I spoke to one, no luck. To add insult to the "outage" the manager ensured the technician walked me through power cycling, checking PC drivers were installed, running IPconfig, running a trace route, and making sure my modem was pinged. Then I told them the technician could see I was connected to an "outage" as soon as I called.

Now the supervisor was respectable, but seemed to be reading off the "How to be annoying and repeat everything the technician did" checklist. Long story short... I was denied any form of reimbursement because a) I do not have a small business contract and b) it was not an outage of more than 14 days.

The major things I took away from this.

1. Never once did Comcast e-mail, call, or snail mail me to inform me that my connection would be connected to an outage for an extended period of time.

2. If you're calling Comcast support chances are its well beyond power cycling the modem, but the Comcast agent will never believe you're actually capable of power cycling it without their step by step guidance.

3. Asking for a refund for services not received is like a trip to the dentist. Your hesitant before you even get there and you probably have a headache when you leave.