Comcast Broadband Internet: Fuck You

Rarely have I wanted to vent this hard about a company and their AWFUL tech support system. They’ve been my ISP now for 20 days, during which time I have been extremely patient regarding their excuses about why I’m not able to access newsgroups (through their “exclusive” agreement with GigaNews).

I call ComCast up the first time and get a “repair ticket” issued for the problem. I call two days later and they say, “Oh that ticket’s been resolved.” Resolved my Subway-slimmed ass. Then how come I keep getting a “Forbidden” message every time I try to register?

Another repair ticket is issued. Same story. So these support tech humps say, “Maybe you should contact GigaNews.”

“Fine. Please provide some contact information.”

“What’s that?”

“You know. Contact information. Names, numbers, email addresses. You know, communication.”

“Oh. Let me put you on hold.”

Time passes.

More time passes.

“Still there? We don’t seem to have any contact information on GigaNews.”

“You have a partnership agreement with them and you don’t even have a toll free number to give me? I’m not asking for a direct line to the Board of Directors, you know.”

“Well . . . let me put you on hold.”

Enough time passes to run through an entire Back Street Boys song.

“Still there? Yeah, I checked again. You might want to go to the GigaNews home page and see. We don’t have anything.”

“Do you have that address?”

“Um. You might want to just type it into Google.”



So, after contacting GigaNews myself four different times, nothing is resolved. So I email ComCast today (as their 1-888 number is doing some crazy malfunctioning) and tell them, “Look–resolve this or else.”

After which I get an email back saying I’m the one who’s clearly at fault because I don’t know what I’m doing, etc, etc. And, I learn, they claim I don’t even have an account with them. Excuse me? So what the hell were those repair tickets issued for? How am I sending you messages from a Comcast email address?

Listen you Kafka-esque abortions, I’m shelling out a goddamn pretty penny here to get your vaunted high speed Internet access and I expect to be paid attention to. It’s not like I’m some customer with an ugly attitude who’s demanding everything this very minute. THREE WEEKS I’ve waited for the issue to be resolved. I’ve suffered annoying emails, bureacracy, and almost an entire album’s worth of Back Street Boys tunes from the prolonged holds you’ve kept me on. If you want my fucking money, why don’t you bend over and let me make it a direct deposit UP YOUR ASS.

Thank you.

I used to have an isp that kept messages on the newsserver for 12 friggin’ hours. I told them I only had time to read newsgroups once a day and that messages shouldn’t expire so soon. The “techies” were idiots. I don’t think any of them even read newsgroups. They said I was the only complaint and kept coming back with “Well, it’s free.”

I finally got a free newsserver that is excellent. It doesn’t carry binaries though. News.CIS.DFN.DE I now have a different isp (finally got internet/cable) and they have a good newsserver but I also use News.CIS as a back up.

Well, if it’s any consolation, I feel your pain. When @Home went under and we were migrated to “” it was supposed to be a painless, near-invisible transition. We were down for over a month. Each new dolt we reached at customer support opened a ticket which was then closed without any progress being made. We went around in a big circle with everyone pointing fingers at everyone else, during which time I got stuck back on a dialup connection. We finally got the situation resolved after we let it drop that we’d been chatting with the Tech reporters at

And then there was the time where we were dropped every evening from 6 to 11 because something in the cable pedestal was set to require X amount of signal, which, since they’d been pushing the service on people, we could no longer receive. Took 'em a while to figure that one out, too.

I did ISP tech support for about nine months (the equivalent of three years at any other job), and out of the hundreds and hundreds of calls I got, maybe a dozen were related to Usenet. I got more calls about Windows 3.1, and I was there just before XP was released!

I’m not excusing poor service, it’s just that the average agent might never get a single call from someone having trouble with newsgroups, and if they do they probably have to get up and go talk to the guy who got that call a few months ago from a customer wanting to know what “news” referred to in Outlook Express.

I had a shitload of trouble trying to find someone on BellSouth DSL tech support who had even heard of Usenet, let alone could do something about my problem. When I finally did get to talk to someone who was vaguely familiar with newsgroups, he told me there weren’t enough complaints to improve the service (which was rock-bottom).

A big problem with Usenet feeds is, of course, the binaries. I guess the techs at some of these ISPs don’t know or care enough to filter them out. These days a full Usenet feed takes up the entire bandwidth of a T3 when you include binaries. You can imagine how many untold terabytes that takes up, so it’s not surprising that retention is so low on ISP news servers.

So few people seem to use them nowadays that I’m actually a bit surprised that ISPs still keep them around.

Re newsgroups what seems to be the problem? I have Comcast also and once you get your NG access name and password and know what your account limit is (about a gig a month I think) you should be good to go once you put them in the right place in your newsreader. I use Agent but the built in MS Outlook NG reader should work as well for basic stuff.

If you contact GN via email they will send you the name and password you need. Where has the process broken down?


The problem is, as explained in the OP:

Sounds like the Comcast and Cox communications tech support types should get together and go bowling. Since getting the service 6 months ago I’ve had the following problems:

The person who used to live at my address was able to access our master account and create himself a user name.

The mail server has been down for more than 24 hours 14 times. Add the “brownouts” that happen every other day or so and e-mail becomes a nightmare.

“System upgrades” that have taken our service out, on the weekend, for six weekends.

An inability to use my own cable modem. I plugged it in, it didn’t work. I contacted tech support and asked them to add the MAC address to the thier list so that mine wasn’t excluded. The response?

“We don’t exclude by MAC address.”

Well, idiot, of course you do. That’s why my modem doesn’t work. Just to be sure I check it on a friends system, and it works fine. Wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Cox charges me $15 per month to use thiers?


I’m not much of a computer whiz, and I have a slight problem with my time with Comcast:

I moved to another town that Comcast doesn’t go to. Fine, no problem. I have another server that works well for me. When I uninstalled the Comcast info/programs, I was still left with a small reminder of them (and granted, I didn’t have any problems with Comcast when I was with them). It’s this:

You know that little icon on the upper right of the screen? The one that shows some sort of action when you’re loading a page? Different stuff for different servers…Netscape, Microsoft, Comcast, whatever…they have something there. (Don’t know what it’s called…told you I’m no whiz). I have tried everything I know, and I can’t get rid of it. I use McAfee Uninstaller for that sort of job, and it’s always worked incredibly well. No go, here, though…I have that little white C with a red circle there forever, it seems.

Pissing me off…

Have you tried bypassing your firewall when you are registering? I am also a Comcast customer and I too received a “forbidden” message when trying to register for the giganews service. I was able to register after temporarily shutting down my firewall and my proxy service (the proxy is just a program I run that weeds out ads and other irritating web content). You may also want to find out the IP address of the site where you are supposed to register and (temporarily) allow the most lax browser security settings for communications with that particular IP address.

Once montag01 gets his giganews newsfeed up and running, this is something he will not have to worry about. Giganews seems to retain messages for months. (At least on the newsgroups I read. I don’t know about the binaries groups.)

Toaster, you’ve got a “branded” version of IE. It’s basically an advertising thing, companies can make a “branded” version of browser software so that thier customers always know who they hate. Try upgrading to a new version. That’s really the only hope, unless you get winhack, or make a “braded” version yourself.

Hi Jonas–and hello also to everyone who’s responded. I appreciate that.

I don’t, to my knowledge, have a firewall enabled. The folks at GigaNews, who at least had the courtesy to respond to my emails, say the problem is likely due to ComCast not providing my IP “block” to them. Because their server doesn’t recognize the IP number, it is telling me I can’t even register to get my password. Bah. Hell, I think I’ll just go feed the Qwest beast and get DSL from them and (hopefully) be done with this frustration. I doubt it though.

Toaster ,
welby is correct. You have a branded version of IE. There is a couple of ways to correct that.

This link from TechTV tells you how to get things back to normal. They go on to tell you how to put your own pictures in there, but that might be too much info.

Good luck!


OK. I would still recommend trying to change the security settings in your browser, just to rule that out. It can never hurt to try.

If you are running Windows XP, then you may be using the built-in firewall. Look into that too, if you use Windows XP.

If that does not work, have you considered using a free news server, as phamton suggested? If you want binaries, though, you will have a hard time finding a free news server that carries them. A $5 or $10 dial-up subscription would allow you to access the dial-up ISP’s newserver (incuding binaries groups) through your Comcast connection.

Of course, you shouldn’t have to do this… Comcast ought to solve this issue for you. My experience with Comcast is that they provide adequate services when everything works, but that their customer service is really poor if anything goes wrong.

Pricciar, Welby, thanks!!!

For the last 10 years, I had a dialup local service that had the 12 hour retention rate for articles on usenet. None of the tech support people even read newsgroups. That’s when I started using the free German newsserver. We lived too far out in the country to change to cable or DSL.

Last month we moved into town and so we now have cable internet (Cox). When I called to talk to tech support to hook up to the newsserver with Cox, the support guy actually used usenet himself but told me that I was the first person who had ever called him asking about newsgroups. I guess most internet providers don’t support news because very few customers are interested.

Think yourself lucky you’re not with ntl in the UK, they’ve just capped all their broadband users (including my house) to download 1 gig per day, fcuking thieving bastards.
So for users with a 1Mbs connection, that equates to being able to use your connection to it’s fullest for 3 hours a day, or just over £1 per gigabyte downloaded.

We are not amused.