Monday, June 05, 2006

The Human Factor Triumphs

Prior to speaking with a very pleasant lady on the phone, Comcast was headed toward some very low grades in my book. It may have begun as a problem from my end, but the corporate procedures epitomized non-user-friendly. The end result was no better than a gentleman's "C", but I suppose that's better than an F.

It all started with a penetration of my Linux system at home. Windows-haters--get over it. It happens to Linux too. It appears that someone got in through FTP. I still don't know how they got in (I assure you that I had a non-obvious password), but they ended up sending LOTS of SPAM. In retrospect, I'm a bit annoyed at myself for not being tipped off by a couple of things that should probably have set off alarms. But they didn't and my first indication that something was wrong was that I no longer had an Internet connection.

OF COURSE, I had no contact from Comcast. And, given that I had been having a bunch of cable work done by an electrician the week before, that was naturally the culprit. So back out to my house came the electrician, but no obvious problem was to be found. And it certainly appeared that the problem still existed at the entry to the house. So I next called Comcast. I just got a recored message that there was maintenance ongoing in my area. OK. Annoying, but apparently there's a coincidental service problem.

Flash forward a couple of days at the end of the weekend. Still no service. Well, this time a call to Comcast provides not a message but a relay to a customer service agent who listens to my tale of woe, then mutters something about a note on my file and immediately forward me to a barely intelligible message related to network security and a voice mailbox. A followup call produces a similar result. Said message also includes an email address but after trading various messages back and forth (with stock answers apparently generated in a matter of seconds), it appears to have nothing to do with my case.

Comcast is not doing well here. What finally (and partially) redeems them is that I finally connect to a Comcast network security person on the phone after leaving a voicemail, and the whole problem was resolved in 15 seconds flat. By that time, I had figured out from my logs what had happened, had disconnected the system from my network, and had rebuilt it. That's all the extremely pleasant Comcast security person had to hear. So kudos for Yolande. But did the Comcast procedures and systems need to make it quite so unpleasant and difficult to reach this point? I hate to imagine how this whole process would have appeared to how some Grandmother with a roached copy of Windows.

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