Comcast Responds To The Million Dollar Question… And Lies Again!

I received an email from a reader who did a little social engineering and was able to obtain a bulletin sent out to Comcast employees.  It has a FAQ section which answers for people who specifically read the AP article, which answers some of the million dollar questions I asked during my chat with them.

This Comcast BitTorrent filtering issue is getting more and more attention in traditional media, congress, etc.  We’ve got to keep blogging about it, keep the negative buzz going and tell Comcast to take it and shove it.  If you want to save some money and still stick it to the man, read down below for my tip on saving $50 or more with a 10 minute phone call.

the read, it’s misleading, confusing and infuriates me as a customer who have a legitimate problem.

—————————————————————— 
Customer Account Executive Talking Points
Peer to Peer
Comcast High-Speed Internet Customer Access to Peer to Peer

Summary/ Overview of Topic
* An in-depth AP story ran on Friday, October 19, 2007 that suggests Comcast is hindering its customers’ ability to use BitTorrent, a peer to peer file sharing application.

Specifics

  1. Comcast is committed to providing all of our customers with an excellent Internet experience.
    We do not block access to any Web site or applications, including peer-to-peer (P2P) services like BitTorrent.
  2. We never prevent P2P activity, or block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users.
  3. Network management is absolutely essential to provide a good Internet experience for our customers. All major ISPs manage their traffic in some way and many use similar tools.
  4. Network management helps us perform critical work that protects our customers from things like spam, viruses, the negative effects of network congestion, or attacks to their PCs. As threats on the Internet continue to grow, our network management tools will continue to evolve and keep pace so that we can maintain a good, reliable online experience for all of our customers. 
  5. We have posted a new FAQ on our website making clear to our customers the steps we are taking to protect the customer experience for all of our customers. (Note: FAQs are located in the “Connection” category of Comcast.net)

Impact to Comcast
* Due to this article, customers may call in to inquire about limited or blocked access to BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer applications.

Customer Q&A
Listed below are some anticipated Customer Questions with suggested responses. Use Verbatim Use as Guidance

IF Customers asks…  THEN respond…

Do you block access to peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent?
* No. We do not block access to any Web site or applications, including BitTorrent. Our customers use the Internet for downloading and uploading files, watching movies and videos, streaming music, sharing digital photos, accessing numerous peer-to-peer sites, VOIP applications like Vonage, and thousands of other applications online.

Is my peer-to-peer activity going to be impacted by Comcast?
* We never prevent P2P activity, or block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users.

* We have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience and we use the latest technologies to manage our network so that you can continue to enjoy these applications. Peer-to-peer activity consumes a disproportionately large amount of network resources, and therefore poses the biggest challenge to maintaining a good broadband experience for all users – including the overwhelming majority of our customers who don’t use P2P applications.

What do you mean when you say you manage your network?
* Network management is absolutely essential to provide a good Internet experience for our customers. All major ISPs manage their traffic in some way and many use similar tools.

* Network management helps us perform critical work that protects our customers from things like spam, viruses, the negative effects of network congestion, or attacks to their PCs. As threats on the Internet continue to grow, our network management tools will continue to evolve and keep pace so that we can maintain an excellent, reliable online experience for all of our customers.

Do you discriminate against particular types of online content?
* No. There is no discrimination based on the type of content. Our customers enjoy unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer. We respect our customers’ privacy and we don’t monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior, such as which Web sites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site.

—————————————————————— 
Thanks to cizzop, your social engineering skills are pretty amazing.  That said, that’s one hell of a response from Comcast.  Technical support is going to be following this document to the letter and will never admit that anything is wrong.

Now, here’s my tip to save some money, don’t even bother talking to Technical Support, you’re just wasting your (and secondly their) time.

Instead, call their cancellation department.  This always works!  I’ve never had them deny me a credit or reduction in price when I had a problem and complained about it.  Thankfully, cancellations is far more helpful than technical support.

  1. Call their cancellations department.
  2. Remember the name of the person who answers.
  3. The conversation should be something like this:
    1. I’ve read the Associated Press article on filtering and have a problem with it.
    2. I’ve gotten a quote from another ISP and it would save me <number> dollars a year to switch.
    3. I enjoy the service and would like to keep it, but….
    4. Is there is anything Comcast can do to make up for the inconvenience?
    5. If they refuse, insist on speaking to a supervisor.
  4. When they give you a huge discount for the next few months or even a month free…
    Thank the person by name and tell them you appreciate their time and personal attention.
  5. Feel free to buy me a beer.

Remember:  The Cancellations Department for Comcast is like any other large company, and we can exploit this very easily.  Comcast pays people to do whatever you want to retain you as a customer.

By allowing them to ‘save’ the account, you’re actually helping out the cancellations agent get better stats and maybe even get a bonus.  They’ll be happy to talk to you as long as you’re courteous, and above all, don’t yell or use profanity.  Be assertive, not aggressive.

  • http://www.fsckin.com Wayne

    If anyone has a problem with commenting I have added an additional layer of spam protection for comments.

  • http://lokilistens.wordpress.com Jack

    you end advise for how to call comcast cancellations is right on the money. I work tech support for DirecTV, and I tell customers constantly that I can’t do anything to help them, but if I transfer them to the disconnect line they’ll be able to get whatever they need. never fails.

  • CSR-HSI Comcast

    Hate to break it to you, we work in call centers:) we are not comcast. Oh and if you read the terms of service agreement of comcast you will also find we do not gurentee speeds, if you ask us next time you call 1800 comcast, we will be happy to read you the terms of service regarding internet speeds. If we are indeed useing packet shaping techology, which i don’t know (oh and i work for internet tech support for comcast, if you havent clued in.) We do not block torrents, nor will we ever block torrents. speeds may vary. Unfortunately with comcast digital voice, phone service is an essential service(in most states its a law that phone have 24/hr service) and those services have priorty over your downloading, every ISP uses packet shaping of some kind. just be glad we don’t hand you over to the RIAA or MPAA or homeland security. We do believe in privacy, and if you want high priority for your presious torrents, try configureing your client to force encryption. its a simple fix, and as comcast rep’s we will simply OEM you to your torrent client for instructions, bit-torrent is not provided by comcast, nor supported. I have provided you and the internet community with the neccessary steps to enable higher priority for your torrents. It is up to you to choose to use encryption. After all do you really want comcast logging the filenames of the warez or linux iso’s you download?

    As for supervisors, we just hand the phone over to the next agent, we can all credit your accounts, we all have the access. (oh and don’t expect to get a supervisor from your area) if you want one you can keep calling… but well… do you really think we have call centers in every little town hosting 1500 agents or more?

    Our supervisors do our scedualling and make sure were at work on time. As per terms of service we do not credit unless a truck is rolled, and at that you risk the possible service charge of 75$ (premise tech descression) if our tech gets there and realizes he was there for no reason.

    just remember we require 18+ ENG speaking and you must be present for the whole length of appointment. hopefully we will have something better than a 8am – 1200 or a 1 – 4 pm appointment, if your lucky u may score a 3-5. in the end it doesn’t matter. Just don’t come crying whwn your charged with posting internal comcast tech docs when comcast sues you under the privacy act, and im pretty sure they can also charge you with slander. And if you to take comcast to court, we will be happy to give you the legal department phone number when you phone in and bitch.

    Disclaimer:

    This is my personal responce about this matter and is not the true voice of comcast nor has any influence from comcast. But that of an individual who thinks you are a lame Script kiddie on the internet with no life who probably never gets laid. and will hopefully end up commiting suicide when he realizes he wasted his life on the internet downloading torrents for an OS he doesn’t know how to use :)

    Try SLACKWARE, tis not for noobs like you, but u may learn something :)

    cheers,

  • L33t Masta

    WINDOZE4LYFE

  • http://www.fsckin.com/ Wayne

    CSR-HSI Comcast: Wow you show everything that’s wrong with Comcast.

  • http://crashie.com Infurnus

    Expose that bastard to the public let his views be known via his IP addy and email address. “Unoffical” comcast rep step one, take a grammar lesson. Step two, remove head from nether regions of asshole. Stop protecting your lame privacy stealing NSA sell-out company and grow a sac.

    Oh and btw STFU.

  • http://www.fsckin.com/ Wayne

    I checked his IP, and sure enough, he’s a Canuckistanian… some of the worst technical folks I’ve ever spoken to have come from Canada.

  • http://distrogue.blogspot.com DistRogue

    I’m guessing that doesn’t include Illiad from User Friendly. Anyways…
    @L33TWannabeScriptKiddie… Wow. I didn’t know a one-word remark could be that ignorant (even if it’s only one word because you’re a 12-year-old script kiddie who never paid attention in English class). Welcome to the wonderful world of Linux. Love it, leave it, or blog about it. And Windows for life? All right, but don’t cry to us when Windows does a BSOD on your fanboy ass…
    @Comcast (not the poser who posted a while back): I don’t really care about your torrent-jamming issues, being a Verizon customer, but it’s just plain stupid to discriminate based on the type of packets being sent. Net neutrality, anyone? Oh… Yeah… We sort of don’t have that anymore. And it’s because of corporate juggernauts like Comcast. So here’s the deal: You guys bring back Net neutrality, and we’ll stop bitching about it. Otherwise, we’ll do all we can to make sure that you guys get all the negative PR you can get. And that’s a lot more than you think.
    Oh, wait, that’s pretty stupid since you guys control what your customers do on the Web.
    Fine, you want to alienate your customers? Give us the ammunition. You’re not the only ISP out there.

  • CSR-HSI Comcast

    well… I see no one seems to care this issue prevents their comcast digital voice from dropping, I mentioned if you wanted to fix your issue to enable your torent client to force encryption. It fixes the speed issue. I get the feeling, you are all ignorant, So I might as well tell you right out…

    USE FORCED ENCRYPTION IN YOUR TORRENT CLIENTS OPTIONS!(I think i mentioned this earlier) ALL TRAFFIC IS SHAPED BASED ON PRIORITY OF SERVICE AKA DIGITAL PHONE, ALARM SYSTEMS, ETC…

    a note on RST packets… As far as I am aware they are not used. not sure where people are getting those… I haven’t seen or heard of any issues except a few of you who have mentioned on some of these posts.It wouldnt make sense to use RST packets because it would cause a lot more to drop then just torrents. and well you could block them useing ip chains, but people have done that and well really don’t think that does much good either.

    on a side note at your bashing comcast if you look at all the former @ home networks ;) I think you will find they are all having the same issue… Lots of fourms and posts on this issue, but its not just isolated to comcast… has anyone looked at the backbones.. the ones who provide the internet to the ISP’s :)

  • CSR-HSI Comcast

    one more thing I forgot to add… randomize yours ports… there is an option in azerus as well.

  • Pingback: The Flow of Consciousness » How to tell if Comcast is messing with BitTorrent?

  • http://allainjulesblog.blogspot.com/ ALLAIN JULES C@MMUNICATION

    Very very nice website.
    Allain from Paris/France.
    Congratulations !

  • Mike Bigalke
  • L33t Masta

    @DistRogue -

    Is that all you have? OH LORD! THE BSOD ARGUMENT! Do you know how long it’s been since I had a BSOD in Vista? 9 months. Back when the DX10 drivers for the nVidia 8800GTX were still crappy. But wait, being a Linux user you must not know much about DX10. Since you can’t use it.

  • L33t Masta

    @ Wayne

    “Canuckistanian”? What the fuck are you, racist? I’m sorry we can’t all be from the police state known as the US of A.

  • http://distrogue.blogspot.com DistRogue

    No, of course not. I haven’t had much time for gaming recently because I have this little thing called a “life”. You see, I’m not one of those people who hides behind an unoriginal (at best) screenname trolling Linux articles. Of course, on the weekends, I have some time to play a few of all these games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Linux_games I’d have to say Tremulous ( http://www.tremulous.net ) is my favorite. Oh, you said something about DX10 and not being able to use it? Why should I care when Linux has SDL?
    PS: I’ve been to Canada, and it’s not bad.

  • BigB

    @CSR-HSI Comcast – for a bittorrent flamer, you sure seem to follow the issue closely. Sure you ain’t been grabbin’ those little harry potter screeners. Hypocrate!

  • Bored

    @ bigB your an idiot. he happend to tell you how to fix your issue :) force encryption and it resolves the throttleing. when you learn to read. feel free to comment again.

  • Mike

    uTorrent’s encryption set to forced definitely raised my upload and download speeds. Up yours, comcast.

  • dave

    wow. a simple thing like managing bandwidth has everyone in a tussle. WHO CARES!!!! I’m sure Charter (my isp) has ways of managing their bandwidth so everyone gets an equal share, or so one part of the system doesn’t get overloaded. It sounds reasonable to me. For example, if I use a bittorrent client AT ALL, even only downloading one thing at a low rate, it dramatically effects my online games. 500k connection, 20k torrent limit=poor online gaming. I don’t know why and I don’t care. More use here equals less there. The fact that 90% of torrents are 100% illegal and they are the highest use of bandwidth means we are lucky to have them at all.

  • Mir

    I’d like everyone to take a step back from this issue, and look at the larger picture.

    Packet shaping really has nothing to do with whats going on here. Sure, it’s an underlying part of the discussion, but the real issue is that Comcast is being extremely devious with it’s customer base, and isn’t being honest about what they are doing.

    Sure, the Comcast network belongs to Comcast. That’s fantastic. This DOES NOT mean they can do anything they want with it. There are regulatory bodies that control certain aspects of what communications companies are allowed to do. Now with regards to packet shaping, I doubt the FCC or anyone else intervenes here, so sure, Comcast can shape all they want. That’s FINE… but they sure shouldn’t be lying about it, or perhaps more accurately; carefully avoiding being honest about it. The fact that this dishonesty is the core issue means that being able to use encryption to bypass the shaping is an irrelevant point.

    The fact that torrents are frequently used for illegal activities is also completely irrelevant. Many illegal activities also involve the exchange of money, so when the bank starts refusing to allow you access to your bank accounts, are you going to accept the response “Money is often used for illegal activities, so we can’t let you have it.”? Of course you won’t. Thats ludicrous.

    At risk of using a slippery slope fallacy, I posit that accepting this “it’s often illegal” argument is pure stupidity. Almost everything in the world can be and IS used for illegal and nefarious purposes. This does not give anyone the right to deny access to those people who use it legitimately.

    In closing, I’d like to reiterate that the issue here is not the packet shaping, but the blatant dishonesty Comcast shows it’s customers. If they were up front about it, sure some people would still complain, but they can find another provider.

    P.S. Wayne: Your country doesn’t even come close to having a monopoly on intelligence – or stupidity. Sure we have idiots in Canada, too, but you’re way out of line to think that you are in any way superior to us in the technical field. There are a number of extremely gifted programmers and technicians up here, and on behalf of all of them I bid you a fond “Die in a fire”.

  • Mike

    I did that and got them down to $20/month but for “cable internet” it’s slooooow about 20mbps

  • http://www.casper911ca.com casper911ca

    It seems like Concast (convenient typo) is hoarding the spotlight. What about COX. COX has been packets shaping as well, and I also consistently get kicked off the network half an hour into opening a torrent. There ways do disguise it I think, tracker and peer proxies, encryption etc.

  • HossMonkey

    The majority of the people in COMCASTs call center can cancel (as well as change or alter your package) you if you request it. What they are taught to do is talk you out of it but if they can’t or don’t think they have a chance in doing so, they are told to tranfer you to “RETENTION”. Retention has codes for discounts that aren’t well known to the sales team or billing team and this is where you’ll have the best chance for a discount (ie. free month, 3 months @ $24 a month etc.). Beware, if you call in and “demand” to be canceled they will do it …

    You’ll have a better chance of getting a person in retention if you phone in to cancel (via key selection) and call between 7-9PM. Why? If you push the prompts to “add service” your going to get an inside sales person. They get dinged (reduces commision) for your call if they don’t add or upgrade a service and since they just got dinged they are going to be less likely to offer a significant discount! The time is important as well …. if retention is overwhelmed with calls for what ever reason … you go in to the queue and may be helped by billing, sales, support etc.

    Sorry for run-on sentences!

  • SuperSparky

    Comcast “prioritizes packets?” Isn’t that just another way of admitting that the infrastructure is so poorly designed that packet priorities must compensate for a sorely underpowered network? Any sort of packet “prioritizing”, regardless of what the packets are shows an attempt at content filtering, which actually makes them legally liable for the content on their network as it shows they are actively monitoring the content. The exemptions a “data provider” has only applies if they make no attempts at monitoring or controlling the data.

    By the way, I have COX. No filtering here. I have never had problems in my area, with COX.

  • lame

    to the guy at the top… ‘ we do not block torrents ‘

    thats um. BS. comcast sure does block the UPLOADING of torrents. straight up blocked. .0001k/sec for your upload. especially if its unencrypted. or runs longer than some magical time allowed. or if your upload exceeds your download for awhile.

    and while that is happening you may or may not be able to use the web for anything else either.

    thats blocked. filtered. screwed. hey i’m bein robbed. blocked.

    you shill.

  • Penny31

    CSR, it’s funny in many of the parts you write you appear very intelligent and well spoken and then in other parts you seems completely ignorant and uneducated (i.e, scedualling (what the hell is that) and (descression)). You’re an idiot and all you’re doing is copying and pasting info.