Comcast Plays Ping Pong With My Poor Dad

Jordan coaxed his dad into ordering Comcast’s broadband service and buying his own cable modem in order to save on rental fees. The two moves combined to give them plenty of father-son bonding time through the endless hell that Comcast’s customer service can be.

In a futile effort to get Comcast to activate the modem’s MAC address, Jordan and his dad were referred back and forth from one department to another, told over the phone they’d have to take care of the activation in person at a Comcast store and at the Comcast store they’d have to take care of it over the phone.

Jordan writes:

I guided him through the signup procedure for Comcast internet, and I made sure to prevent him from renting a cable modem from Comcast (since it only takes 6 months for the renting to cost more than buying a modem).

At the end of the signup procedure, there is a step where you do an online chat with a Comcast representative. At that point, I expected to provide the online rep the MAC address of the cable modem I bought my father and conclude the signup procedure. Instead, she told me that the only way to activate service was to either buy a self installation software package or pick one up from the local Comcast store. I was flummoxed, since I did not understand why they would not let me register the cable modem at that point. But I played ball, and sent my father to acquire the self installation package (he opted to buy it for $15 dollars rather than brave a trip to the dreaded Comcast store).

Ok, software arrives, and I offer to help him set it up. I plug in the modem run the software, and, (drum roll) no dice. So I do a bit of poking around. The modem actually pulls an IP address, and forwards all dns requests to a comcast portal that provides a download link for the software he ended up buying. I try that version, no dice again. It seems apparent that the missing piece of the puzzle is that Comcast needs the MAC address of the modem.

My father calls Comcast, reads the error message from the software, and the rep decides the cable modem must be bad. This is preposterous–the modem was able to pull and ip and download software from comcast’s new sign-up portal. I do not get to plead for a more thoughtful diagnosis, since she forcefully forwards him to billing to purchase another modem.

So then I do an online chat with a Comcast rep, tell her the story to date, and she immediately picks up on the fact that since we were supplying our own modem, Comcast would need the MAC address (I didn’t even get a chance to prompt her). Ok, so of course I offer her the MAC address — but no, she tells me that my father must bring the cable modem to the local Comcast store to register the MAC address. She claims that while she used to have the capacity to register MAC addresses, Comcast changed there system.

Ok, so I send my father to the Comcast store with his cable modem in hand. Surprise surprise, the reps in the store tell him that they can’t do anything for him, and that he is just supposed to call up Comcast and have them register the MAC address with a telephone rep.

So he comes home, tail between his legs, and does what he was told to do. The rep on the phone tells him she has no idea how to register a MAC address. He pleads with the rep to send out a technician to handle the situation. The rep doesn’t want to do it, because she says a technician can’t register a MAC address either. He reasons to her that maybe a technician could convince a phone rep of a method for registering a cable modem. She finds that idea compelling, so now a technician has been dispatched to my father’s house, and will hopefully arrive on Friday and register his cable modem.

If you’ve ever tried to help your parents upgrade their technology or save money, only to lead them into terrors neither of you anticipated, share your pain in the comments.