I’m Just a Number, Mostly Likely Zero.


Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that my Linksys cable modem has been acting screwy. Speeds weren’t what they should be and it was dropping connection here and there.

I decided it was time to look into a new cable modem. The funny thing is that the US Robotics modem I had before this one worked like a tank for more than 7 years. This has been on my setup for about a year. Anyway, I decided to go with a Motorola Surfboard 5120 as a replacment. It had gotten good reviews from several people and it seemed like a good choice even though I’d have to give up the nice stacking appearance of my 3 Linksys products.

I hooked it up and called Comcast to give them the particulars on the modem (with cable modems the provider needs to get their MAC address to approve its use on the network). A few minutes after the call it was working just fine and my connection was better than it had ever been. I also found that I liked its design plus it was easy to work with.

Then, two hours later, storms rolled into South Jersey with a vengeance. My entire computer setup is on a surge protector but a single close bolt of lightening struck and appears to have fried the modem. No amount of tinkering, including with the Motorola support rep, could get it back.

I then decided to put the old modem back on. I called Comcast again to tell them about the change. They were as surprised as I was but made it all painless and again, within minutes, I was back up and running.

The next day my brother-in-law reminded me that he had a newer Linksys cable modem that he no longer needed (he recently switched to DSL). I decided that might be a better way to go than the current modem at least until the Motorola came back from repair. He brought it over and we hooked it up. I called Comcast and this time ended up speaking to a rep in Canada. Everything about the call sent up various red flags. First, I was told I needed to be passed to some other department to set up the modem. That had never happened before. Second, the person in the new department wanted to know the serial number of the modem. Never before has a rep asked me for that. Hmm, why’d he want it? Then he asked me what the primary e-mail address was for the account. What? Why would he need that too? I just kept answering questions. He then said, “Okay, I think you’re all set but something doesn’t seem right.” Uh oh.

I couldn’t connect at all. He said he’d look into it and get back to me (that was Saturday and I still haven’t heard anything from him). I then decided to get proactive and called the local Comcast office. To reach local Internet reps you have to jump through some silly hoops. You dial into a local number and respond to the voicemail prompts as if you’re calling to downgrade your TV service. When someone comes on the line you tell them that you pushed a wrong button and need Internet support. That gets you to the local guys.

I reached someone great and they pulled up my account and said, “Oh my.” That didn’t sound too reassuring. He then said, “I have no idea what this guy did but your whole account is screwed up.” He then tried to undo everything and at the end of the call I had web access again. I assumed everything was fine and ended the call. A while later I tried to get my e-mail and was told that the password was wrong. Huh? I assumed something screwy happened so I got online and told their system that I’d forgotten my password which then resets it for you. It said everything was reset and good to go but still wouldn’t let me log in with the new password.

I called Comcast back and they tried to resolve it. I kept hearing, “Error 100, what’s that?” No one has been able to fix the problem. It then got escalated to “Level 2.5”, as if that’s supposed to convey to me that something amazing has happened, but nothing changed. I was then told by a really nice rep that they think everything is fine and that it would all be back to normal when I woke up Monday morning. I also asked about my accounts and was told that all my mail was intact and that new mail would just go into the account and be there when I finally got access.

Note also that my wife is out her e-mail and my son is now upset because his website is down. The next morning came and still no change. I call again and I’m told that it might take up to 72 hours to fix. Are they joking? 72 hours to fix an e-mail account?

I then find out that anyone e-mailing my account is getting their mail bounced back with a notice that my account is suspended. Great. Now it looks like I’m not paying the bill. Wonderful.

I called once more and got the same response. “They’re working on it but I have no ETA on when it might be fixed.” 5pm has now come and gone so I expect nothing else will happen today.

This was originally written Monday but, of course, I couldn’t post it as the blog is currently hosted on my Comcast webspace which was also down.

It’s now Tuesday just before 7pm and I JUST got the service back. Several others I spoke with promised action but without change. More concerning is that several people promised to call me back with updates but never did. I finally decided to go on the offensive and called the corporate office at 4:45pm. Two hours later the service is back. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I spoke with three really helpful people at Comcast through all of this and that may have saved them the account but it should not have transpired this way.

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