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Today I met the best and worst of Comcast employees!

Background

It all started around 16:20 to 16:30 CDT, when I got an automated phone call from Comcast. The message said the service interruption in the area was over and the system was cancelling any home visit. If the problem continued, please call 800-COMCAST.

I decided to 1-800-COMCAST, as I did have an home visit scheduled for Sunday, September 8, 2013 between 17:00 and 19:00. I felt there were two reasons the home visit should go on ahead:

  1. A level 2 tech person is the person who scheduled the visit because he wanted an home tech to run some specific tests for him. The signals coming from the box are not normal or corrupted by the length of the line to our home. (We live towards the end of a very long cable line, as we're close the Chicago lake front.)
  2. He promised to have the home tech guy bring three (3) Mocha filters so the hubs won't be able to talk to each other (which seems to cause some of our recording issues).

The level 1 tech who answered the phone told me the visit was still on, but wanted to understand what was going on with the home visit. As I'm sure they appreciate learning about the X1 (at least I hope they do), I explained to him what the level 2 person told me. It deals with the cable card inside the X1 not syncing correctly with the X1 motherboard (or something to this effect).

It was at this point the level 1 gentleman said he knew how to fix the issue and was going to send a signal down to the box. I tried to explain to him the home visit was more than just a sync issue. It also has to do with the filter and signal issues (most likely due to our location on the line). This type of stuff is important for Comcast 2nd level and/or engineers to see and analyze.

I asked him to not work on it, but it was too late. He said the signal was on the way. He told me to hold in the power button for 10 seconds so as to reboot the system.

Turns out after he had me reboot (not power cycle) the box, I don't have any channels beyond basic!

He told me to wait 20 minutes and the channels would show up. It is now 3 hours 12 minutes or so later and the I still am getting the "Free w/Subscription" message.

The UGLY

Comcast is having issues with long wait times. OK, I can accept this situation, but what is UGLY is how I'll get disconnected during the phone call with the Comcast phone rep! Tonight alone I'm on my third call into the X1 level 1 tech phone number (877) 896-8678, because of hang ups during the first two calls. As for the wait times, the first one was 31 minutes and the second one 29 minutes before talking to a person. The first hang up occurred after about 4 minutes. The second hang up occurred at the 1 hour 15 minute mark of the phone call (this includes the wait time).

What would be useful is say one of these three ideas:

  1. A way to call back in directly to the person helping me
  2. Priority on the waiting line should the system notice you call back into Comcast within (say) 5 minutes of hanging up or being disconnected.
  3. Comcast updates its procedures to require phone tech support employees call back the customer, when an unexpected disconnect / hang up occur during the support call.  After all we have to give the support representative the account phone number, address, etc. We could also give them a phone number to call back should a disconnect occur during the conversation.

As for me, right this moment, I'm sitting with a X1 DVR hub saying I need a subscription for all but the most basic channels.

As for the two individuals at the X1 level 1 technical support who I reached. The first of these two was a very nice woman. She wanted to be helpful, but kept running into various issues. They were:

  1. She wanted to open a ticket and send the problem to level 2. When she tried, though, the system rejected her request because I already had 4 tickets open with level 2. (At least this is what she told me was the reason she couldn't get a ticket number.)
  2. Because of the above (#1) issue, she tried working on the problem. She tried various signals without success. In the end she decided to transfer me to her lead or supervisor and this is when the hang up occurred. After waiting a bit, I gave up hoping she would call me back. After all she does have the home phone number (its a Comcast VoIP number).

The second (and last person) I spoke with at level 1 didn't even want to deal with the issue. He said there was an outage and said not to bother Comcast till 01:07 AM CDT tomorrow.

The Good!

In the end, I decided to try a person I know on the level 2 X1 team. He worked with me in the past on issues, but I didn't even have a ticket for this issue. We chatted and he was willing to help me out.

After working for awhile (about an hour or so) he got it up and running. Turns out he didn't think it was going to work. GASP! According to his tools my box and another box (the one they want to examine on Sunday) shouldn't be working. He's not sure where the problem resides, but what he sees is an invalid configuration and authorization for the cable card and X1 for both boxes.

NOTE: I asked the level 2 person if he could check to see if there was an outage in my area. I explained my concern the outage could affect his ability to work on this problem. He checked and couldn't find any outage at all for cable, Internet, or phone concerning my area. He was very frank explaining he had no idea what so ever why the level 1 tech support guy (the male person) told me an outage existed. This was even after I told him about the end time (01:07 AM). (He even noted he didn't have any issues sending signals and their not reaching them box.)

What matters and is wonderful is he got it working! We thanked each other (as he thought the box was still "down" and was proceeding to try other stuff). Of course, I thanked him for his outstanding work.

OH, Just FYI: While working on the issue with level 2, I saw a new error message during boot time. It was:

ERROR


We are sorry, there is a problem with your XFINITY TV. Please call your 1-800-COMCAST for assistance. Reference RDK-03002 when calling.

Even though the error doesn't have any direct relationship to the error situation discussed in the blog, it is an error I saw during this time period. I decided to include it in case someone, some day sees this error and does a Google search on it. S(he) will be able to know someone else had the error and under what condition.

In this case the error message appeared on the TV screen during the boot process. The X1 DVR hub was at the third red dot of the boot process when the box seem to stop booting. After about 5, maybe 10, minutes the above error message appeared.

I described what occurred to the level 2 support person and he told me to wait. He cleared the error on his side and did another remote boot. While the boot cleared the RDK-03002, we still had the subscription error. Only later did he get it all working (see above), which is wonderful.

UPDATE: It is now Sunday, September 8, 2013 (02:01 CDT) and the problem has yet to come back. Yeah! We're looking at other issues with the X1, specifically with recording. What we're seeing is mixed information. Specifically, we're seeing:

  1. Per the Scheduled Recoding list on the X1, between 23:00 and midnight (CDT on Saturday, September 7, 2013), I'm suppose to have 3 recordings.
  2. Per the Guide and its red dots, between 23:00 and midnight(CDT on Saturday, September 7, 2013) the X1 is suppose to record 2 programs.
  3. Per the database the X1 server is using between 23:00 and midnight (CDT on Saturday, September 7, 2013) the X1 has 10 programs to record!!

We're not sure what is going on. I sent the tech working on the problem a series of photographs and videos of what my X1 DVR hub is displaying.

THOUGHT: After working with him during this time, what I think might be useful would be a feature for the X1 support people similar to the Windows Remote Desktop that Microsoft / Dell / etc support people use to work on Windows 7 systems and/or applications. Users would have to authorize it, as they do with Dell or Iolo Technology.

The ability to rebuild the scheduled list of programs kept by the cloud server (e.g. the database entries for a specific X1 DVR hub) would be helpful. There could be two versions one for end users and the other for say 2nd level (and above).

One though on its design would be to allow the user (end user or 2nd level) to see a list of the upcoming scheduled programs and their status. The user could then modify the entry, such as cancelling the recoding, changing its start time, end time, etc.

In my case where the 2nd level saw 10 programs for the time frame, I'd be able to see the list, too, and then decided the ones to keep, change, or best get rid of as I don't want them.

NOTE: Upon closer examination some of the 10 entries clearly didn't make sense and/or show up on the list of scheduled recordings I saw (on either the guide or the recording list). Examples:

  1. The server listed a channel level recording from 23:00 Saturday to 03:00 Sunday. I didn't see one in the schedule list. I couldn't find any way to cancel this recording, given my X1 didn't report it existed.
  2. There were two entries for the same Bleach episode, a series and an individual recording.
  3. Various programs, such a Axe Cop, I record but only the new episode. What was on during this time was a repeat. According the 2nd level person the meta data the system was showing him for Axe Cop said the episode was new. Yet, the TV Guide information told me it was a repeat. The only way for me to remove this entry was to delete the Axe Cop series recording. I did this to Axe Cop, as I didn't want a repeat recording nor did I want to miss Bleach.

There were other occurrences and we tried to find them and eliminate them. I figured I'll restore the series recordings after Bleach records, should it record.

OK, that is it for now. This is a long blog and hopefully someday, somewhere it will help someone with his or her X1 DVR hub via Comcast.

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