Executive Summary: Comcast
is a tone-deaf, ham fisted, anti-customer company
can be responsive if you know how to reach them.Update: I emailed a link to this post to We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com. Within an hour I received a phone call from Paul, who explained how I had tripped the auto-alarm and he said he'd lift the block on my outgoing email. The issue turned out to be related to my VPN use. I'm no longer blocked and I know how to prevent a recurrence. Happy ending, in my book. Comcast needs to get this level of care pushed down the pipeline.
I discovered last Sunday that for the previous three days none of my outgoing email had actually gone out. After doing some testing that involved borrowing a neighbor's wifi connection I determined that something was up with my Comcast connection.
I started a 'chat' with Comcast support and that person had no idea what was up.
While I waas chatting I checked my Comcast email. This is the account you get automatically when you get service from them, but I don't use it, never check it, don't care about it. Sadly, it's the email Comcast uses to communicate with its customers. (I've subsequently set my mail client to check it on a regular basis.)
I had an email from Comcast:
Dear Comcast Subscriber:
ACTION REQUIRED: Comcast has determined that your computer(s) have been used to send unsolicited email ("spam"), which is generally an indicator of a virus. For your own protection and that of other Comcast customers, we have taken steps to prevent further transmission of spam from your computer(s).
What followed was 7 paragraphs of help that only applied to Windows users. (use IE to get back in their good graces, check for viruses, etc. For the PC readers, Macs really don't get viruses and certainly not the 'let's hijack your mail program' stuff that you have to protect against. )
But the key thing is that they had tagged me specifically as a site that sent spam. This wasn't a generic "hey we're worried" email. They shut down my ability to send email because of behavior of my computer(s).
I'm reading this email while still chatting with the Comcast 'helper'. This is how my conversation with them went:
Marife > I really apologize, Lee, but we cannot address this issue. Mail servers that have sent high volumes of Spam to the comcast.net domain. Please review the error messages that you have received and the corresponding FAQ links provided within the bounce back message – this will help them to resolve their issue.
Lee_> I'm telling you there's been a mis-fire. I don't have anything to check. I send 5-10 emails a day. There is no spam.
Lee_> and the FAQ talks about how to configure my comcast.net account, which isn't the issue. I don't use that account.
Lee_> Who do I call to get this fixed, if you can't help me?
Marife > Lee, I have already reported this issue to our higher fix agency. We will do our best to resolve on this issue immediately.
Lee_> How can I track this, is there a ticket number?
Marife > May I ask for a reliable contact number that the technician can call?
Marife > Thank you.
Lee_> Is there a ticket/case number for this?
Marife > The technician will call you just in case they need additional information.
Lee_> I would like the ticket number.
Marife > Yes Lee. Please give me a few moments.
Marife > Here is the ticket number CR132550367 for your reference.
Marife > Is there anything else that I can assist you with today?
Lee_> Yes, is there an estimated time for when this will be resolved?
Marife > We will do our best to resolve this issue within 24 hours, Lee.
Marife > You are most welcome.
Marife > Thank you for contacting Comcast. If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through Live Chat or E-mail (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Simply visit www.comcast.net and select Help.
Marife > Goodbye and take care.
Ok, so Marife has escalated the case to 'our higher fix agency'.
24 hours and not able to send email. Forget that. I started poking around.
It turns out all they'd done was block port 25. A port lesson is beyond the scope of this rant, but think of it as, your house has 10,000 doors and someone wants you to keep from leaving so they lock one of the doors. There are still 9,999 options to get out, if you can get someone to meet you on the other side.
It turns out that my email provider listens for mail on port 26 as well as 25, so two hours after I realized the problem I was back in gear; everything was working.
But I have this outstanding issue with Comcast; they've tagged me as a spammer. Comcast unplugs customers without talking to them first. I'm a little worried that they might re-focus their attention on me. So, I try to follow up with Comcast support to see where things are at. On their web support form I post this question:
Is there a way to track a support ticket on-line?
I get this repsonse:
Thank you for contacting Comcast via e-mail.
I understand that you have questions regarding a support ticket.
I am sorry for the inconvenience, but this cannot be monitored online.
In reviewing your account, I am showing that there is no open ticket on your account.
a) I posted a web form, not sent an email.
b) NO OPEN TICKET?
In an on-line chat with support I was given a ticket number of CR132550367
And just now, in the final straw, I get:
Thank you for contacting Comcast Cable.
The ticket number that you have provided has been closed. This is because you were advised to send as much information including the ip address to email@example.com.
Nowhere in any communication (including the original email sent to my Comcast account) was I advised to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I responded by asking them to tell me where I was told that, but at this point, I really don't care.
I live outside ATT's service area; I really have no credible option for high-speed internet service.