My Kingdom for a DNS Server
Thank you for calling Comcast, how can I help you do my job today?
I am forever doomed to call Comcast tech support…
Lansing residents don’t have many options for broadband internet service apart from Comcast cable modems and SBC DSL. Most of us would (almost) rather go back to a 56k modem then use SBC given the choice, so after we finished our move into the new house one of our first calls was to Comcast to setup new service. The technician was fairly prompt, and due to the fact that I’m the resident tech support for the house they did a basic modem install and left (all of this took place while I was at work).
I wasn’t surprised to find that the install CD that came with the modem was practically, strike that, completely useless on my MacBook. Adding insult to injury the CD told me that it required Internet Explorer and offered to install it for me. Having never dealt with the OS X version of IE I was hesitant but agreed. Anything to save a call to their tech support department.
A few minutes later IE had been deleted from my system and I was on the phone to tech support. Insert lack of surprise here.
A nice lady answered and asked how she could help. I told her I was a new subscriber and needed a manual activation of my cable modem. She started asking me several troubleshooting questions involving the activation CD, and after humoring her for about five minutes I finally interrupted and said “Listen, the activation CD isn’t working and it’s not going to work. I just need you to manually activate my modem.”
Thankfully she listened and proceeded with the activation. After the modem restarted I was able to get a public IP and ping out but it was slow, and when I say slow I mean slower than dial-up. After pulling up a few pages the problem seemed to be DNS resolution and I asked her for Comcast’s DNS server IPs.
I was less than impressed with the awkward silence that followed.
Comcast Tech (CT): “Umm, I’m afraid I don’t have those.”
Me: “You don’t have your DNS server IP’s?” (note that I was saying this to both confirm what she said and also to relate what was happening to my wife Jenny whose jaw promptly dropped)
Me: “Someone around you should have them, it’s just a couple IP addresses and they should be pretty easy to obtain.”
CT: “Well we have supervisors who can answer that question. I can transfer you if you want.”
Me: “That sounds fine, just please let them know that I am not angry or anything and all I need is about 30 seconds of their time.” (thinking I would only need 30 seconds to get the IPs and fix my problem, boy was I ever wrong)
CT: “Ok just a moment…”
(transfer literally took about 10 seconds, a bad sign)
Comcast Supervisor (CS): “Thanks for calling Comcast, can I have your account number please?”
Me: “Sure, but first may I ask if I was just cold transferred to you?”
CS: “Um, yes you were, and normally I only deal with technicians in the field so I don’t know how you ended up talking to me.”
Fifteen minutes later all this supervisor did was verify my modem had the correct configuration, but he still couldn’t explain the DNS problem nor could he provide me with the DNS server IPs.
Finally I just cleared the DNS entries I was trying to use and restarted my MacBook. Network info came back up with no DNS IP’s specified but the connection was flying along as it should, finally.
You might think this was the end of the futility of this call to tech support.
You would be wrong.
The supervisor tried to convince me that the IP address the modem received was not a valid Comcast IP. I told him it was letting me browse the internet and was publicly accessible. Once the connection was working correctly I ran a quick IPWHOIS at dnsstuff.com and lo-and-behold it was a Comcast registered IP block.
Sadly this is not an uncommon type of story. I can’t help but feel like I should be paid for the time I spent dealing with them.
To their credit the two phone reps I dealt with were very nice people, they just need a lot more information if they have any chance of doing their job well.
Now I’m off to wrestle with 802.11b/g security using multiple hardware vendors. Fun stuff.