Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Trial, by Franz Komkast

The speed test from when I was sitting in the living room. We pay for 50mbps.
I'm losing my mind with Comcast.

At our old dump, we had Comcast XFINITY for awhile. It was under a roommate's account (the thief one) and in August I put one in my name. We kept the router in the middle of the house where the old one had been and had no problems.

After I had a couple of months under my belt at my then new job, we bought a new television - a "smart" TV, as they call them. Because we wanted the router near the television so we could use it to its full potential, we moved the router into our room in the front of the house. This was in October or November. Still no problems.

In December, this new chick moved in, a spoiled brat who had never lived apart from her parents in her 22 years. She hogged all the bandwidth, and the internet was always overloaded. She didn't have a television but watched streaming video all day long. Being an intern, she only worked a few days a week (she had neglected to tell us that her "job" was a low paying internship.) She used A LOT of data, so much so that if it were still legal to cap data, we would have been cut off. As it were, we believe we were throttled anyway. Within a month of her living there, the internet slowed to a crawl. Then it stopped loading pages at all. Throttling is not legal. (Thank god that was passed before you idiots elected an all Republican Congress.)

If you've ever had to call Comcast for a problem, you know it is hell. They always, always, always blame you for the problem. They tell you obvious things like "power up your modem" or "restart your computer." Then they try to sell you an upgrade. Every. Single. Time. Oh, and that's AFTER you've waited a half hour or so to talk to a person. Often you are transferred from one department to another where you have to tell your problems all over again. We had a technician over once who was in and out of there claiming nothing was wrong when we couldn't load a single web page. It just happened to work at the moment the technician was there. Maybe they turned off the throttle so they could say nothing was wrong. We were charged $40 for the visit though nothing was fixed. We had no internet in February, though we still were charged full price. In March I finally got fed up and sought the higher ups. (I learned that from writing to a PNC board member when I could not resolve a banking problem with the customer "service" people and when I could not resolve a problem with the MLB.TV people. Fortunately, I know how to write for an audience. Many people don't have that skill.)

It was right before the start of the baseball season, and I was concerned I wasn't going to be able to watch the Reds, so I dug through the depths of those tubes we call the interwebs and came up with an email address for an executive office. I sent the email about 5pm on a Friday and went out for some dinner.

I'm not kidding you, the executive called me within a half hour. By that time, I was in a noisy restaurant and couldn't take the call, but he left me an email address so I had an email exchange and set up a time to call him the next day. During that phone call he did some tests and could see that there was definitely some sort of problem with our connection, and he set up a service call the next day. They came, two of them did, and they were there for four hours. They replaced everything - the cables, the splitters, the router - but as it neared 5pm, they were still confused about the reason for the varying speeds. Sometimes it would come in at 20mbps (which is what we were paying for at the time). Other times it'd come in at ten or fewer. I had explained that I had gotten as low as two on a speedtest - anything lower wouldn't even load the speedtest page.

But, as with everything Comcast, when the bewitching hour of 5pm hit, they were out of there.

The problem seemed to be resolved that night. We had had rare nights when the connection actually was fast enough to use, and on this night I was able to watch a baseball game for the first time all spring. I thought it'd be ready for Opening Day.

I went to watch Opening Day at the Bottom Line, a bar known to be a Bengals bar where Reds fans sometimes get together to watch big games. I didn't know the internet had returned to whatever memory hole it had come from. We were going to Spain on the 10th, however, so I didn't do anything. (The whole reason I started this post tonight was to continue on with my Spain pics, but Comcast interrupted those plans.) Then, when we got back we found out our landlord was, well, that's another story, so we needed to move and get the hell away from there. I wasn't going to bother with fixing the internet since we'd be moving asap.

Moving. Hooray! We've moved to a wonderful place. We love it so far, aside from Chris getting attacked by teenaged girls at the Metro station. (That's another story, too.) We thought also, hooray, we'll get to have internet again! But no. We had to call Comcast because although the television worked, we couldn't get any webpages to load. (I know what you're thinking - must be my computer, right? No. First, this computer works on any other wifi network anywhere we go. Second, it didn't work for either of our phones or our tablet.) It said we were connected - it always said we were connected - but it was useless.

I was livid. I made Chris call, as I didn't want to deal with any of it, knowing what a customer "service" call is like. But he doesn't understand technology. He kept saying we didn't have a signal. We had five bars. He doesn't understand the difference between a wifi signal and internet connectivity, among other things. In the end, I had to talk to the guy, and I wasn't nice. He blamed us. He said it was the computer's fault. He said we probably wired things incorrectly. He refused to listen to the fact that we had four devices that wouldn't connect. He was reading from a customer service manual, and any deviation from that manual he couldn't handle. He was also rude. I handed the phone back to Chris while the guy was in mid-sentence so I didn't say anything nasty.

Finally Chris was transferred to another department, and at least you could tell that guy was doing something on his end. He was trying different frequencies and the connection was going on and off. Some worked better than others. None worked very well. I was sitting in the living room with the laptop at the time. In the end, we had to schedule a service call.

That night, I had the laptop in the dining room, two feet above the router. I watched the Reds game. Most of it, anyway. There was some serious buffering at key moments, but at least I was getting it. I thought it was working. Chris called Comcast again to cancel our appointment for the next morning, because we knew it would be of no use to have them look at it.

They came anyway.

How on earth they can't coordinate their phone people with their service people is beyond me. There are hundreds of software programs that could do it at minimal costs. They really just don't care, I guess.

Chris didn't answer the door for them, so they left a message on my voicemail, but I wasn't going to call back. I thought the problem was over but last night I was trying to post a recipe of a concoction I made (pomegranate brats) and it wouldn't post. So I had Chris call again today and upgrade the speed to 50mbps. (Yeah, it's a racket they have going on there. You don't really need much more than 20 for your day to day internet activities.)

So tonight, I sat down to post more Spain photos thinking I had 50mbps and couldn't load them. Too slow. Speed test gave 6mbps. I was in the living room, a whole 13 feet away from the router. I know because I got out the tape measure. Yeah, it's an old place and the walls are plaster. But we have an open archway! See?

I guess you can't see the archway in that pic. Here:

Two feet further than I was sitting tonight.

I put the router in the dining area (which we are making into a sports bar) because it is in the middle of the house and theoretically could reach both the bedroom and the living room without any issues. Kitchen, too, for those times when the Reds are on and I'm cooking.

But the router is too weak to give a decent connection from 13 feet away. Seriously, WTF. Now, I know that the routers they give you are cheapass POSes, but is 13 feet too much to ask for? To sit in my living room with a laptop on my...lap?

Eventually I'll probably do most of my computering at the bar, as I have it set up to double as a desk area (you just have to see it, but it's not done yet so no pics for now) but we don't have barstools and probably won't for a month. I could probably move the router into the living room but why should I have to do that?

I did a speedtest back here and am getting more than 50. 13 feet from a comfortable seat.

And there are people who think that the government should not regulate the internet. Why? So we can let these crooks get away with even more than they already do??? You're just trading one government for another, only your corporate rulers don't have the checks and balances that the feds do.

Support net neutrality. Support consumer rights. And let's stop accepting these duopolies that are the telecoms industry.

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