Finding clue at

From: "Howard C. Berkowitz" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2003 11:20 AM
Subject: RE: Finding clue at

>Comcast's phone support department is the *worst*, WORST, I've ever dealt
>with. I think they are outsourced, they have to go by a script, and many


>them probably hardly know what a computer even is. Once I called because


>a problem on their network, and I told the person on the phone that there
>was a problem on their network, and I pinned it down to a couple of


>where the problem may be, and she responded, very sternly, "Sir, WE DON'T

Same thing here. Last night, I was told that no escalation personnel
were available.

* Depending on how big a company is or how the outsourcing company staffs at
night this can be true. No escalation personnel may be physically present,
but this doesn't mean there isn't someone they can call. An outsourcing
companies call center agents have to first decide (policy?) that the issue
warrants escalation, and then they probably have to call THEIR manager (of
the outsourcing company). This manager then gets to decide if it REALLY
warrants escalation to their client (the cable company). They don't want to
call them after-hours unneccesarily. And cable companies are used to having
24-hours to resolve most outages, and if it doesn't affect a LOT of their
customers it isn't considered an outage worth escalating. A real world
example is: 6 calls in one cable node with the problem persisting for 15 to
30 minutes (calls keep coming in) would be a case for an on-call technician
to be called. Anything less just gets Service Calls placed in CableMaster on
AS/400. These things can wait for a scheduled (all-day) appointment unless
the customer insists on a time-frame.

*sigh* Y'know, I could live with it if I could even have a mailbox to which I could send detailed trouble reports, even if no one looked at them on the next day. While their routing seems to be fairly stable these days, there would be times I'd traceroute from several sites I could reach and take views from multiple looking glasses, giving me a pretty fair idea where, and even what, the problem is.

The customer disservice people that really drive me nuts are the first-levels that believe they are NEVER wrong.

If you say there's an IP routing problem, they may say "how do you know there's a problem with our ippp(rhymes with pip)?"

"We don't support SMTP or POP3. You have to use Outlook.."

"You must remove your firewall and router so we can troubleshoot."

"It's irrelevant that you can ping the access router. It must be your modem. Go to the local office and exchange it."

"I'm sure the problem will be resolved, so there's no reason to give you a trouble ticket"

"b'gop? bajop? We don't support bee-gee-pee in our network."

"access router? We just have Windows servers."

* Exactly what I described above. But I wouldn't accept "hopefully somebody
would respond". That is NOT acceptable. Someone should respond within 1
business day at most. Again your not going to find many on-call or
higher-level support reading email after-hours and responding to things.
Even I couldn't do it ALL of the time. And I was the only one doing that in
a local cable company (not a national company) with 2 cities.

I'd be happy, again, if they'd let me give them a trouble ticket. Oh, they have told me at times that I could do that at their website, which is an interesting problem when you don't have connectivity.

I'd gladly pay extra for dial backup at low speed, but they don't offer that.

At the time, I was paying for their "Pro" service, intermediate
between regular residential and full business. My contact said that
while that was supposed to get better customer support, an early plan
to route it to business Comcast failed, and there really was NO

> separate Pro support organization. I dropped the Pro service after I

learned that residential service no longer insisted you remove any
local routers and firewalls before deigning to troubleshoot. They
still ask you to do that, but repeated NO responses can get them to

* Pro services, where I was working, gets escalated like the above
description I wrote. If you are not completely down you're probably not
going to see something done about it until the next business day (assuming

They treated completely-down situations like that.

A few NANOGs back (Atlanta), I did a presentation on customer
satisfaction, which, frankly, was in many respects a case study of
how I'd reform customer support at my then ISP/DSL, If
NANOG ever did formal documents, I'd like to see a guideline on how
to run customer support.

* I saw you powerpoint and I liked it.

>In any case, if you manage to get the call escalated a couple of times
>(after lying about rebooting your computer 47 times),

You forgot reinstalling Windows. On a Mac.

* Typicall front line support (should) be able to figure out if you are
reporting a problem with your connection, e.g. your cable modem is not
"acquired" or you have no IP connectivity or DNS resolution, or if you are
reporting something else that needs escalation to a higher level of support
(or to the cable company on-call). Again the rules of engagement I described
above about number of calls on one cable node and how long it has been down
(need 15-30 minutes). [Some things in outside plant reset themselves

A lot of cable companies are likely new to providing PRO services. Also
remember a lot of cable companies just recently took the ISP infrastructure
in-house after having outsourced for many years to companies like
Excite@Home and ISPChannel. Also some of these outsourced call centers
surely don't have the ISP support background they need. The one I was at,
wether they'd admit it or not, learned a lot from me. I came from small ISP
dial-up support where I was everything as well as working at a Latin
American Countries ISP aggregator. So I wasn't made from the same mold as
many of these newer personnel you will come across. Things may have to
escalate to a pretty high level to find someone with the kind of clue to
have dealt with knowledgeable customers ... especially Internet Core NSP

A few times, mostly at 2nd level, someone recognizes my name from one of my books -- and gets helpful. Indeed, in some of those trouble calls, they set up a conference call and I did some tutorials.

I'll probably regret this, but I guess you found it. I'm quite interested
in any detailed trouble reports NANOGers can provide, especially on the
routing side. I will not be able to respond right away, but I'm quite
interested in improving our infrastructure and service.