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Comcast Security…or Something Moronic? You Decide

Posted by direwolff on February 2, 2010

{NOTE: what follows is my rant against this morning’s experience with Comcast.  If you’re having a great day, you may just want to skip reading this.}

Comcast = FAIL

A month ago my wife and I decided to begin paying our Comcast bill from our bank’s online bill payment service.  For some reason, Comcast was one of the few bills for which we were still receiving dead trees over snail-mail and it didn’t make any sense given the convenience of paying online like all the rest of our bills.  From my bill payment service I elected to receive Comcast bills directly there and to be notified when these arrived.  With other bills we do this, clicking on the “View Bill” link displays the invoice with all of the details, in other words, convenience to the max!

Today was the first time I received the notification that the Comcast bill had arrived.  As with other bills, I went to the site and clicked on the “View Bill” link, however the ensuing pop-up didn’t show me the invoice and details, instead it asked that I sign in to the Comcast site to view the bill.  Well, that was going to be tricky because we don’t use the Comcast email account for anything nor do we login to the site ever.  Heck, just remembering the email address that Comcast had designated to us was tricky.  Fortunately, I managed to get a customer service agent on their chat system to help in this matter.

Sure, it took 15 mins to wait for an agent, but that was a small price to pay, and when the agent came on, they were very effective in helping resolve our account info.  Strangely however, he tried to up-sell me on the Comcast phone service…which we already have.  Reminded me of the follies of behavioral advertising, offering stuff I don’t need or already have.  Almost like what’s the point of having all of my information if you don’t know or are not going to use it properly.  So here I thought, our trials were over and I could proceed to complete my bill payment transaction.  Well, I thought wrong.

After logging into the Comcast system a screen offered me to update my account information.  I clicked on this and was faced with questions about needing to provide my “Security PIN” with an option of changing it, as well as provide yet another security question (beyond the one for the normal login).  Decided to cancel out of that process figuring I could leave well enough alone.  Once again, I would be wrong.  From then on, any procedure to see my bill or check email would result in that same Security PIN screen popping up.  There was a link to have the Security PIN resent to my email address…the one on the Comcast site of course.  I clicked on this, went to the Comcast.net site, and could see that indeed that email was there (that page shows the subject line of the last 3 emails you’ve received).  Clicking on the email brought up the Security PIN screen….WHAT?!  I have never seen a bigger case of circular security logic than this flawed process.  In order to get the Security PIN from the email, I would need to have that Security PIN…huh?!

Called Comcast customer support and while I got a very nice and polite young lady on the phone, and despite providing to her all of my account information that she needed to be assured that I was the account owner, she could not change the email on file for me.  The Security PIN would be snail-mailed to me in 4-5 days.  In explaining that I couldn’t pay my bill because I couldn’t see it, she suggested that I pay it by phone.  As happy as I would have been to do so and get past this hassle, there was no easy way to get the itemization of what we owed.  Now she is snail-mailing the bill too.

There’s something ironic in trying to reduce the use of dead trees, and by doing so increasing its use by two or three fold.  However, clearly Comcast has issues to think about with their security system, that is so impenetrable that you can’t even get to the information you were meant to access in the first place.  Not to mention that they’re just a cable company, it’s not like my life savings is sitting in their vaults somewhere.  Even my most secure online banking service, with multiple levels of security, let’s me register and get to my money online whenever I want to from day one.  What Comcast has derived here is clearly not security, it’s moronic but I leave it to smarter minds than mine to figure this out.

Frank Eliason, if you’re still out there in cyberspace doing the good work for Comcast, you might want to intervene in this one, they need a solid mind to get involved here and you understand this stuff more than most.  Please jump in and save Comcast from itself.

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One Response to “Comcast Security…or Something Moronic? You Decide”

  1. Having the same problem of getting in a loop. Nice customer reps have tried to help but I still don’t have a PIN no? Have had 2 temp passwords given to me by Comcast peeps. Customer rep yesterday was able to access my account while I couldn’t. Don’t know what all this sleuthing is for. Guess its necessary. I live alone and lock my doors and use security software. I’ve just gotten Comcast all the way and I’m impressed with it particularly the hi spd Internet and phone. Out here in the country ATnT doesn’t offer hi spd and I’ve endured marginal phone sevice from Bell South/ATnT for 25 yrs. Repair guys say their buried cables are 30 yrs old and there’s no plan to upgrade. There’s just not enough peeps on this deadend road.

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