Comcast Outage Reflections

I’d like to thank Comcast for inspiring this post, without whom this would not have been possible.

Comcast Truck Outside my Condo

It is one eerie evening here in the suburbs of North Atlanta, Georgia after the storm has passed. Earlier, my wife and I had gone out to the Flying Biscuit restaurant for a nice sizeable brunch. After being seated for a bit, we noticed the crashing and flashing and lights dimming, not an uncommon weather phenomenon for this part of the country during summer.

It got worse. Louder. Brighter. Soon the hissing of rain accompanied the meteorological medley and heads were turning away from eggs, bacon and biscuits to view the increasing ferocity of the storm. One group of people had occupied a table outside on the porch. I am honestly not sure what became of them.

Despite all this, the food was great. The waitress had a great sense of humor. We were having fun. The chair was even comfortable. I offered to pay in anticipation of the credit card clearing machine going down. I wasn’t about to wash my own dishes. The waitress happily accepted.

Umbrellaless, we trudged through the rain, thunder and lightning and managed to get home without being completely drenched. I had a lot of work to do. My wife and I had planned to launch our redesigned coupon site after having worked on it all day. I was looking forward to the launch. It would have been a good launch, I felt sure.

The next thing I know I’m staring at my pc. I opened my browser and nothing happened. Something wasn’t right with the lights on my modem. The wrong lights were blinking or not enough were blinking or they were the wrong colors—something! I began to get nervous. Not a good sign. I assumed that there was likely an outage due to the storm. My Comcast high speed Internet connection was operating at a speed less than that of competitors they sometimes make fun of in commercials. What I’d do for a 56k connection about now. I noticed the whirring cicadas outside for the first time in a while. They’d been out there every night, but I hadn’t heard them.

It was time to make the call to Comcast support and start unplugging and plugging and rebooting and holding. I needed to confirm that it was in fact, a Comcast network outage and that my modem had not been stricken by lightning in my absence. The support rep was friendly and didn’t ask me to unplug from my router as they often do.

“Besides the connection problems, how’s your day been going otherwise?”

I recognized the line from the other day from when I foolishly unplugged my modem to safely open a potential SPAM email (yeah, I need to upgrade my email client one of these days) and my connection went poof. I loathe that question. It was like asking someone being waterboarded how they were faring besides not being able to breathe.

It was around this time that I realized the television screen was black.

“Let me schedule someone to come out—ah, it’s a network outage.”

I felt better knowing that it was a larger problem, that others were facing the quiet like me, not getting work done and not playing multiplayer online games. Much better. But still, that eerie, powerless, useless feeling began overtaking me as I kept opening and closing my browser and seeing “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage” and thinking Web page is two words and Web should be capitalized. I guess the person who writes error messages didn’t know that. Such a trivial thought, but what was I supposed to think about during this severed connection.

Yes, it was an eerie evening even after the rain left. My wife and I cleaned and straightened up some items around our quiet condo. I tried turning on some music but neither of us could bring ourselves to enjoy the tunes we heard, the tunes that would sound much better under different circumstances of connectivity. We seemed to not know what to do or how to act. Perhaps we spent too much time on the Internet surfing, shopping, socializing, gaming and building Web sites?

“Let’s just spend some time together and talk,”

I finally suggested.

“Yes, let’s do that.”

 

Update July 2013

After 16 years, I finally dumped Comcast.

 

Emory Rowland

Emory Rowland is editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire. He's a fanatical blogger, entrepreneur and builder of Internet things from way back. Emory's love for social media and success with organic search led him to start a SEO consulting venture. Apart from the Internet, he could be considered by many as pretty worthless. More...

15 comments

  1. Chris H

    Here in Woodstock, GA the lightning struck at about 6:30pm on Tuesday July 8. I heard the crash and saw a bright white light across the street out of my window, was it my time already, …I wondered. Then back to my computer and voila! no internet. So off to fajita night at my favorite mexican restaurant Tijuana Joe’s. Good food and trivia night, cheep fajitas on tuesday, yummy. Back home and no internet and no cable TV from Comcast. Check all again at 11 pm, ah must be an outage? Did the unplug and reset of computer modem with no luck earlier, so off to bed after a good read. Next morning, today Wednesday, no Good Morning America, no reruns of Archie Bunker and Edith, and Thank God, no View, though I do like Whoopi! So a quick call to Comcast to see if there really is an outage. No outage reported, I’ll set you up and send a technician for July 15th, a WEEK I said? Wait, I think there is an outage. So I did, I waited 2 hours more. Not satisfied I called Comcast back. Is there an outage? No I don’t see an outage, but you do have an appointment set for July 15th. Maybe I can get an earlier one, I have Monday the 14th, Great 5 days from now? Usually and outage is reported after your neighbors call. I said most of my neighbors have direct TV, so that’s not a good plan. I will report an outage and have someone check. Will they call me and let me know what is going on, Yes. An so I wait, while I type this on my laptop with Verizon broadband access card. So no real excuse for not working from home. Thanks Comcast, an oh yeah, thanks Verizon, back to work.

  2. Barry Welford

    I must admit, Emory, I am somewhat concerned to see your post after a blog post I have just written that pointed to Comcast as a company that strives to deliver good customer experiences. Comcastcare is a Twitter user and Comcast employee who apparently scans Twitter for dissatisfied customers and tries to make it right. Perhaps if you had been able to send an Instant Message to your Twitter account via your cell phone, you might have got a more satisfying response. Who knows?

  3. Emory Rowland

    Chris, after the second night, I almost went to see a movie after the exact same thing happened the following night. Tijuana Joes sounds good, though.

    Barry, I actually didn’t intend this post to be a slam against Comcast but to get at something a little deeper, examining the shock of being cut off from friends and work and hint at the question of whether it might not be such a bad thing once and a while. I had originally titled it “Internet Outage Reflections,” but changed the keyword later. I’ve watched Comcast’s customer service grow and improve over the years and I am actually surprised that they seem a lot more responsive of late than one would expect a company to be that held such a monopolistic edge here locally. I understand that some things, like thunderstorms are beyond their control.

    By the way, I received a phone call from a gentleman from Comcast who said that he had read this blog post and wanted to make sure my connection problems were resolved. I have to admit I was really impressed by the gesture. A second gentlemen from the local office later called and ended up crediting my account. I am not sure if Comcastcare was involved in that but I’d like to say thanks. I added him to my Twitter (if you happen to read this, please feel free to comment here).

  4. Barry Welford

    Emory, I’m glad to see that I had rightfully signaled Comcast’s efforts on customer service. I’m sensitized to such issues since here in Canada, we have an oligopoly of telcoms, Bell, Rogers and Telus. They all push prices and contract terms as high as they can go. Their customer service is widely criticized. As a result there is increasing public dissatisfaction and Canada is now far behind most other developed countries in the growth of the mobile Web. Slowly the politicians are realizing that this is bad for voters and bad for the economy. I hope they have the guts to stop the nonsense.

  5. ScottW

    Hi Emory,

    We feel the sting of a lost connection here too sometimes in Leeds,Alabama. That feeling of “loss” if you will, is surreal and does leave you feeling like you’ve left something unattended but can’t remember just what it was exactly.

    At least Comcast is coming along with customer care. Windstream on the other hand….well, let’s just say that if you happen to call after hours, you get India. Not good. Other than that, I guess they’re working on it.

  6. Emory Rowland

    Hey Scott,

    Yeah, I like your analogy. What’s pacified me somewhat is that I’ve learned when I call Comcast, one of two things will happen: I’ll end up unplugging the modem and rebooting or scheduling a tech to come out. I suppose that’s better than the dial-up days of waiting weeks for the phone company to come out and look at the jack installation.

  7. Patel

    Hi Guys,

    I also live in Woodstock area, and planing to get comcast for internet service. So, I can get rid of ATT phone and DSL. Is it reliable and how is the speed?

  8. Emory Rowland

    Patel, it’s fast in Marietta when it’s working.

  9. Patel

    Thanks for reply Rowland,

    One more question.

    How many times it goes down, does it really frequently goes out, because I also want to go with VOIP and it will not be good if its down once a week.

  10. Emory Rowland

    Hi Patel, It seems about once per month or two there is some type of down time and usually it does not last nearly as long as what I described in this case.

  11. Patel

    Thanks Rowland for your help. I might go with naked DSL and get VOIP after that as I know my DSL is really reliable. One thing I will miss will 1/2 mbps upload speed vs 512 upload on DSL. Again thanks.

  12. Mark

    I have Comcast. Last night, the worst thing happened. My modem rebooted itself. Normally, that’s not a problem, but I had to power cycle 5 times or so because it kept rebooting every 5 minutes. I tried to get in a chat with Comcast, to see if I could find out if it was my equipment or a network issue on their end, but after waiting about an hour, no response. I found this site by googling to see if any outage was reported. I feel better about Comcast support now.

    I have been without Internet for long periods of time, but I rely on it to broadcast my Internet radio station. I can live without it, since I still have several unopened Anime DVD’s to sit down and enjoy. When I am on the internet or know I have it, I seem to never have the time to watch anime or do anything else. Strange…

  13. A Amos

    The net will be up tomorrow, tomorrow, you can bet you bottom dollar. Ok, it might be up tomorrow now that I have wanted in the request que for a service tech. The storm came Thursday Aug. 5th and now we are still waiting for the service call Sunday Aug. 8th. We have been dragging the family to McD’s so that college class work can be submitted, myhusband and I are both in college on line. When I call to speak with the people in customer service I keep getting disconnected. They called me to confirm the appointment and I tried to speak with them about this problem and then I got disconnected too. None asks if our neighbors are up, but I know that the other 2 or 3 routers I normally see when I log into my own are missing. I am hoping clear comes to town soon, Cartersville is at the mercy of Comcast these days and I’m sending this from my cell phone.

    • Emory Rowland

      A Amos, I sympathize with your situation. You could try contacting @comcastcares if you have a twitter account. Good luck.

  14. Emory Rowland

    Thanks, Comcast, for proving me a masochist yet again…

    Comcast Phone Time

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