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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Frank Eliason from Comcast…can you hear me…hear me…hear me…

Posted by direwolff on May 1, 2008

Just got done reading the Social Media Insider e-mail newsletter from MediaPost titled, “All A-Twitter About Comcast’s Twitter Guy“.

It’s a great post about how Frank Eliason from Comcast has been tracking RSS feeds and Twitter to keep up with commentary on the company. It’s very cool and innovative, so I’m going to give it a try by talking about them here about a specific nasty little problem that’s developed with our use of Comcast at our home/office. It all started on April 3rd of this year when all of a sudden my wife called me while I was on business in New York to tell me that she couldn’t send e-mail. She was receiving e-mail just fine, but was getting errors in sending e-mail. My first thought was that she’d gone and done something weird and just needed to reboot and everything would be fixed. That didn’t work. Then I went and looked at our domain service and our hosted e-mail service to make sure those were operational, and sure enough they checked out. On my end, I was having no problems sending and receiving e-mails to my Crackberry so I knew the basics were working just fine.

When I got back home a day later, my computer got on our wi-fi network without a hitch and I was able to get on the Internet and was receiving e-mails with no probs, but guess what? Sending e-mails wasn’t working. Actually, the more I diagnosed things the worse it seemed. Not only could I not send e-mail to the SMTP servers from our domain but I couldn’t send e-mail through Yahoo! Mail or Gmail from her machine or mine. Note, she’s using a MacBook with Microsoft Entourage and I’m using a PC running Vista and Microsoft Outlook 2007. This was nutty. So I booted up my old PC with XP and Outlook 2003 on it to see if that would work, and surely that too didn’t work. Note that the POP protocol was working fine since we could receive e-mail, but sending through SMTP both where it was secured and where it wasn’t didn’t work.

In calling Comcast support, I knew this would be out of the league of a general support person as this was a very nuanced problem. Considering we have been living in the same house for nearly three years without a problem other than the occasional reboot of our computers, the wi-fi router or the cable modem, and all of a sudden computers using three different operating systems and three different mail clients stopped working, it wasn’t going to be easy to diagnose. He recommended that we try our Comcast mail account which we had never used. It was easy enough to add it to the list of e-mail accounts and once again, this too was able to receive e-mail through the client apps but not send any. Yikes!!! He then mentioned that they didn’t support Outlook, only Outlook Express, which sounded like an immediate cop out. For Pete’s sake, given the dominance of the Outlook platform, you’d have to be an idiotic company not to support your users’ use of all flavors of Outlook. More importantly, it was clear that it wasn’t the problem since we had been using our e-mail clients for nearly three years without incident. I did also try to “ping” the e-mail servers and in a twist of irony I could ping all of the SMTP servers and get responses except for the Comcast SMTP server. Too funny, but weird at the same time. Why can I get a response off of “ping” but not from the Outlook test sends to the accounts. Hmm…

Well, since this fiasco I’ve been relegated to using Gmail through the Web client which is perhaps a good thing as it’s helping me virtualize my system and reduce my dependency on my PC’s software, basically I’m now working off the cloud ;) However, it is frustrating having to change my organizational system.

With this said, I hope Frank catches my blog post so that I too can write about the awesome Comcast service that I’ve grown accustomed to and have found to be reliable. My wife is not as pleased with the virtualization experiment, so it would be helpful to resolve this issue so her life could be made easier since she finds using the Web e-mail clients impractical for keeping track of her e-mails.

Frank, can you hear me?!!! Please…

*** UPDATE 5/2/08: I hadn’t had a chance to check my e-mail yesterday, but Frank responded with some thoughtful consideration.  We haven’t fixed it yet, but at least we’re in a dialog.  This guy ROCKS!!!  That he saw my post and responded shows that Comcast has some really bright people who understand and care about their customers.  Some times bureaucracy gets in the way of people being able to do the right thing, but every now and then a few get together to overcome this and do the right thing.  Frank and whatever team he has working with him on keeping up with these channels of communications deserve a big fat round of applause.  I’m totally blown away that this story about Frank is actually true and someone at Comcast is helping me get through a really tough time.  This is how to keep a customer, and in an age where customer acquisition costs are growing rapidly and making a switch to another service is fairly easy, this kind of behavior will always be rewarded with loyalty and a story I will tell any friend who disses Comcast.

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10 Responses to “Frank Eliason from Comcast…can you hear me…hear me…hear me…”

  1. […] the exception of a few complaints, most people are completely onboard with Comcast’s digital efforts. I can give full kudos to Frank for being so personable, and as […]

  2. sam said

    Well that didn’t help me any. I can’t send emails to Comcast customers from Outlook 2007 (windows vista). My friends say either that they never get my emails or that they wind up in their spam boxes. What do I do now? Using Gmail is not a good option for me because I often don’t have internet access as I travel around on a sailboat. So I like to be able to write when I want and then send/recieve when there’s a wifi signal. Any suggestions?

  3. p-air said

    @sam, I think you misunderstood the issue I was describing, but I’ve had the same problem as you a long time ago. Spammers some times appropriate an e-mail address and make it look like their messages are being sent from that particular e-mail address. ISPs and e-mail services begin to recognize the address as being a spam address and place it on a “black” list to filter it out. Likely that’s what has happened to your e-mail address. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get off these lists short of contacting the various ISPs and e-mail service providers. In your case, if you’re noticing that this only happens when you send e-mail to Comcast customers then you may want to blog about it as I did and mention Comcast or Frank’s name in your post, and he may respond to provide you a means for addressing this issue.

  4. Thecomcastguy said

    Go into your advanced settings of your 3rd party client and change your outgoing port to a 587. Then select the “use secure password auth” under the servers section. Make sure the settings of that are set to auto complete the secure password option. Save your settings, log off your outlook or other 3rd party program and log back into it. Not make sure nothing is in your current out box and then try to send a email. This is a quick fix for the “abuse” situation you may run into without having to change to webmail. (even though we, as Comcast employee’s, perfer you to use your webmail. Makes things ALOT easier.)

    Contact me anytime at thecomcastguy@hotmail.com. I am not on Franks team but I have spoken to him personaly and he is as great as everyone says.

  5. p-air said

    Thanks for the note Thecomcastguy, as it’s good to have this response on record though Frank sent me a similar response by e-mail that enabled me to resolve the issue back when I first wrote this blog post on May 1st.

  6. Linda Finkral said

    Frank, Help Me. I live in NJ for 6 months and Cape Cod, MA for 6 months. Comcast NJ and Comcast MA do not seem to know about each other. Always issues when we move from one to another. Comcast MA puts us on hold over the winter for a nominal fee while we pay full price in NJ over the winter. Comcast NJ made us pull out and tear apart our wall unit (two old retired people) to unplug our box and return it to them when we moved to the Cape in June. They refused to put us on their nominal service when you are away from home over the winter or summer. Told us they would do it if we lived at the Jersey shore but not since we lived in Lambertville, a river town. We have to cancel our NJ service and pay to have it reinstalled in November when we return. This makes no sense to us at all. Now we have to put the box back in place in our wall unit when we return. A big pain in the neck. Do you wonder why everyone I know can’t wait for Verizon to get wired up in Lambertville. We begged them to let us keep our box and offered to pay to keep it. No, rules are rules they told us. What difference does it make where we live in NJ??? We just bought your $99 Triple deal. We have the phone, internet and TV. There was never any mention of the fees to set this up. Monthly Rent for the phone box is added to the $99 Plus set up fees galore for upgrading your service. I am sure this is spelled out some where in the fine print but I was shocked to see all of these fees on my bill. By the way, your British person who did our set up in MA is fabulous and wonderful and I will only use him in the future for problems. A great employee. Try to find more like him.

  7. Linda Finkral said

    Hey Frank, its me again. I was having trouble getting my modem and router to work in MA. Called Comcast tech service and was on the phone for a long time trying to figure out why my modem would not send out an IP address out. Some person in a another country slowly had me disable everything on my laptop. He then said he had to go but would call me back in a few minutes. Never called me back…ever…it has been a month. Fortunately for me, I am computer literate and was able to get my laptop up and working again and reloaded the software onto my router and everything has worked fine since. So much for tech service, huh?

  8. thecomcastguy said

    Linda, I do not know if Frank has got a hold of you yet but I have a couple questions. 1.) Is the router a comcast router or is it just the modem b/c we can not really troubleshoot personaly owned routers. 2.) If you can email me your HFC Mac ID or Cable Mac address number on the back or bottom of your modem, I can go into it and see if there is a issue through the modem. If I do not show anything going on then I would recomend that we bypass your router for the time being to prove Comcast and your computer are running fine. thecomcastguy@hotmail.com.

  9. Linda Finkral said

    Everything is working fine now. I reloaded the software on my router and it is working fine. I was able to trouble shoot it myself when the Comcast tech did not call me back. I really do appreciate your reply though.

  10. Thecomcastguy said

    Glad to hear it. I am always here if you or anyone else needs anything.

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