Jan. 26th, 2010

radarrider: (Default)
The last couple of weeks, I've pretty much been away from DW and LJ so I'm not at all caught up on my friends/reading lists. I will likely continue this way for the forseeable future as it's freed up a considerable amount of time. It was simply taking too long, at least an hour a day, usually more. So if there's something you want me to know, send me an email.

I'll still post occasionally, and I may read certain posts from various folk, but for now I'm not going to be reading the lists as I used to.
radarrider: (Default)
When did you ever think someone would say that about Comcast? Well after the experience I had this weekend, I must say that Comcast definitely appears to have its act together regarding customer service.

Last week, I woke up one day to find that our Internet connectivity was down. The router, and everything downstream from it, was fine. But the router wasn't able to connect to Comcast and get an ip address. I decided to wait until the evening and see if it had cleared up by then.

When I got home from work, the service was still down. So I called 1-800-COMCAST. As all of their techs were busy, the system arranged to call me back automatically. About 15 minutes or so later, the call came in and I was on the line with a technician.

She asked me if I had done the basics, like cycling the power on the router and the cable modem and plugging the computer directly into the modem. I told her that I had, and said that the "ready" light on the modem was not lit. She asked if I had a splitter, which I did. It splits the signal between the cable modem and my wife's desktop computer, which has a TV tuner in it. She asked me to try without the splitter. I was sure it wouldn't make a difference, as it had been there for years, but I decided to humor her and do it. Lo and behold, it started working.

Once we had it up, she measured the signal strength to the modem and noted that it was pretty weak. Something had happened recently that dropped the signal strength below the point where the signal attenuation from the splitter was enough to prevent connection. She scheduled a technician visit for Saturday morning between 10:00 and noon to figure out what was going on.  In the meantime, I just left the splitter out as it was actually working pretty well without it.

Saturday arrives, and with it the technician at about 10:15. This guy was great. He really knew his stuff and made a point of telling me what was going on and why he was doing what he was doing. The problem turned out to be a series of issues including:
  • The splitter in the "smart box" where the cable comes in and is then split out to the various outlets was of poor quality. He replaced it.
  • The connectors on the ends of the cables in the smart box were of poor quality and were affixed poorly. He replaced all of them.
  • He also replaced the connector on the end of the cable that attached to the wall plate in the office.
  • I had an elbow connector attached to the wall outlet, and the splitter attached to that. He removed it as he said they tend to weaken signal.
  • And finally the biggest problem, and the one that most likely pushed the signal strength below the critical threshold resulting in the outage, was in the box in the front yard. In that box, the cable comes in from the main unit on the other side of the street and connects to the house cable. The connector there was not properly protected from water and, with the recent rains, some water probably got in and caused some corrosion. He replaced that connector and installed the protective cover on it.
  • He also installed an amplifier in the smart box at no additional charge.
The end result was that the signal to the cable modem was actually too strong. He had to install an attenuator to bring it down into the proper range. Connectivity and bandwidth are excellent. I have the full 20 Mbps down and about 6 Mbps up.

I have a QAM clear digital tuner in the home theater PC that receives the hi-def broadcast channels for the regular networks. Previously, not all of them were coming in properly. ABC, for example, never worked right. The signal was corrupted. Now all of them come through perfectly clear.

This was one of the most positive customer service experiences I've ever had. The technician definitely seemed to make it a point of personal pride to figure out and fix the problem completely.  He could have just fixed a couple of things to improve it enough to get it back to where it was, but he put in the extra effort to make sure that the quality was as good as he could get it.  Good job Comcast.


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