Today I had the weirdest outage I've ever encountered with my Comcast (Xfinity) Internet service. One that confused their tech support, had them try to up sell me on more support, and ended with a manager being really honest with me. In the end my service came back but not because of their help or them reporting the outage up their chain. It was a comedy of errors.
Just as someone pinged me with a question in online chat my Internet stopped working. Having worked in tech support for an Internet service provider and working on the cloud now I took to figuring out the problem before I called support. This problem was a new one for me. When my packets were being routed through the backbone routers one of them wasn't sending them on. The router in question was pos-1-6-0-0-pe01.350ecermak.il.ibone.comcast.net (188.8.131.52) and sits between two other Comcast routers. It just stopped routing me and did so before I ever left the Comcast network.
I expected that the router would either fix itself or the Internet would start routing around it. When that wasn't happening I decided to call it in. This is when the comedy of errors began.
Comcast (Xfinity) Tech Support
Is it Comcast or Xfinity? I really can't tell the difference which I found quite annoying when I wanted to name them in this post. But, I digress.
I got right through to their first level support without having to wait on hold. But, this was when the frustration began. The person I was speaking with didn't understand what I was talking about. They were just following a script that didn't account for what I was talking about. Having said router it was just assumed it was in my in house network. When I explained something different it appeared to just be skipped over.
At this point my cable connection worked to the router so they assumed the problem was on my end and dismissed what I was saying. This was frustrating so when they wanted to send me to the next level service I was happy to be transfered there.
The next level service tried to troubleshoot my wireless router right off the bat. After I explained my problem he told me that I would need to go to the next level support and it would cost me $5.95 + possible additional charges for this.
At this point my Internet connection still didn't work with the same reproducible problem.
I refused to pay and they said there was no other option. I was out of luck for support if I didn't pay.
Transferring To A Manager
In order to speak to another person I needed to call back in and was immediately transfered to a manager. She was really pleasant to speak to and was the first person to actually listen. When I explained the problem she admitted that there is no way to report issues like this at the first or second level support I went to.
The next level support they were trying to transfer me to is another level of support to help me with my in home network which isn't covered by Comcast. So, when the problem was in the Comcast network but not in the cable connection they had no way to elevate it.
I'm not sure I believe this.
Comcast Problems People Pay For
What this really highlighted for me was that there is a class of Comcast network issue tech support is not equipped to handle, troubleshoot, or even report. That they pass these Comcast network problems off to support customers have to pay for.
Now, I can understand paying for in home network support. People do wacky things and sometimes you need to get paid support if you can't handle it yourself. But, for problems with the Comcast routers that appear to be part of their backbone (ibone in the name and all)? That is just bad support.
If there was a viable alternative where I live and work I would switch. This comedy of errors left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
It Came Back
This is the Internet and if routers broke badly for a long time we'd all be having problems. The router at the IP causing the problem started working again. Can't say what fixed it but it started working again and my traffic started to go through again.