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Comcast.net Deception

I am busy. Really busy. But my dad called me this afternoon and is frustrated because his email has not worked in a couple of days. He is able to get email, but not send. The same problem is on my mom’s computer. He is also worried because he knows I am really busy and did not want to bug me, but he thinks he as a serious problem because Comcast sent him an email noting his email is getting blocked because he as a virus.

Virus?!? Really? Possible, but very unlikely. Each of their computers are stacked with AVG and ZoneAlarm with email protection, and I run regular scans for spyware every time I visit, and there has not been a single problem.

So I read the email and Comcast wants to configure email through port 587. They have blocked port 25 because their customer is being bad with spam. More interesting, the email states to click on a link in the email and it will automatically configure your email client to use this new port. I don’t know about you, but this immediately sets off the warnings for me. How they heck is this not a virus waiting to be sprung?

So I call Comcast tech support. I tell them I am the tech for my folks and I want to confirm that Comcast really sent this email. “Yes, your parent’s account has been flagged because they have some sort of virus on their machine that is sending out email and we need to protect ourself.”

Thanks bud, you just made me look bad in front of my parents (customer) telling them my plan to protect them failed. I press a little more. Can you tell me exactly what triggered this message? Can you tell me what machine and what virus is lurking for me to fix? The customer support person hesitates, “I am only trained to change you to port 587.”

So I push more and ask, is the only fix I need to do is to change to the new port? He responded affirmatively. Seriously? Seriously?!? What about removing the alleged virus. “Well, it could be someone reported abuse against the IP address, or your email address. It might not be a virus that triggered the alert. It could be that your parents emailed out to a distribution list of 100 people.” I directly asked them if this was a general email or one sent only to my parents because of the situation. They received it because they were flagged.

How deceptive is this?

I called the Abuse/Security department and asked for details. They basically told me they could not because it was proprietary information. I see, they can claim the customer has a virus, but cannot explain exactly what it is. The rep was downright obnoxious. Customers are guilty without any real proof.

BTW, it does not matter what port you connect to, if the client is configured to the port the email will get sent. The only thing this protects against is direct port 25 access of the virus. All they need to protect against this is require authentication to send the emails.

I googled “Comcast 587″ and see this is not unusual with their other customers to lock down the port. While this can be a pain if you use another email provider who is only set up for port 25, all Comcast had to do is be upfront with the customers and say we are being extra careful to protect against spam. Ameritech/SBC/AT&T; also blocked port 25 years ago, but they allow customer to waive the block. Still a pain in the neck, but more customer oriented than Comcast.

If my parents did not have a geek to call they likely would have had to hire someone to fix a non-existing virus. They would have taken three computers to the local Geek Squad and spent money on nothing and it still would not have fixed their email.

Bonus time waster: the link to automatically fix their email client brought up a page of ASP script code dumped in the browser. I mention this to the tech who told me to click on the link in the email. I figured it would not work. The tech said they were having some problems reported with this. Really?!? I’m shocked!

Comcast – thanks for wasting an hour for me today, I needed the break. You truly have extremely poor customer service, a horribly abrasive Abuse department, and treat your customers to deception that is wasting a lot of time and likely money on support costs. Pathetic.

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9 Responses to “Comcast.net Deception”

  1. February 13th, 2008 at 16:15 | #1

    Now that’s funny – I just got a call from my Cable provider in Canada with a “similar” message. Boy – these guys all travel in the same dark-lit circle , don’t they?

    Here’s hoping I can get it dealt with before they decide to “deactivate” my account.

  2. Anonymous
    June 4th, 2008 at 12:25 | #2

    I just went through the same thing with Comcast in Savnnah Ga. Outgoing mail worked fine until last night, but no go today 6/4/2008.
    They do seem to have blocked port 25, but would not provide any information as to why they did so.
    Our computers are heavily protected from a wide range of threats and scanned regularly so I am doubtful that we have a virus/worm.
    However, i am logging all traffic through our router just in case and so far see nothing suspicious.
    I believe Comcast is either blocking all port 25 traffic or blocked us do to something unknown (a report from a customer?) that caused them to flag our account. It would be nice if they could provide some clue as to WHY they blocked us so I could try to find/fix the problem, but they regard that info as secret or something.
    I did get things working again by switching to port 587, but still wasted several hours with uncooperative,unhelpful Comcast tech support.

  3. Anonymous
    August 6th, 2008 at 13:07 | #3

    first of all im glad you all think that the people who work for comcast are stupid..but they are not.. think aobut all the ignorent stupid people they have to talk to every day that think that having to change a stupid port in outlook (which comcast DOES NOT EVEN HAVE TO SUPPORT!!!) is so important.. GROW UP…

  4. August 6th, 2008 at 16:30 | #4

    “Anonymous” the second, no one on this post or commenters made any reference to Comcast tech support being stupid. Abrupt, abrasive, and abusive, yes, but not stupid. If anything, Comcast is treating their customers as if they were stupid, by *deceiving* them about the virus.

    I do tech support for my customers every day and it is not an easy job. So why is it that Comcast is putting in policies that make the tech support person be in a position of conflict with the customers? And all this is unnecessary by the way.

    And oh by the way, if any ISP wants my business they better support me in connecting common applications to get email from their email servers. It is something that should be an automatic. Especially when they are the company moving to a non-standard port. Duh.

  5. Anonymous
    February 27th, 2009 at 18:33 | #5

    I had this same issue with comcast. It’s the stupidest policy ever. Whats to say I don’t use port 587 now for all of the alleged spam/virus/whatever the #$*@#$ they think I have on my computer.

  6. Anonymous
    April 27th, 2009 at 00:52 | #6

    Not sure if this is true in all cases but in my case they blocked port 25 due to too many bouncebacks. The trick, it would seem, is to keep your opt-in email lists squeaky “clean”.

    Incidentally, I couldn’t agree more about the futility of blocking port 25. Do they really think that whoever is using that port for bad purposes can’t figure out how to switch to another port?

  7. Anonymous
    October 14th, 2009 at 13:55 | #7

    So instead of changing a simple port number that is a whole 3 numbers total you wasted all that time to give people a difficult time over something they had no control over….

  8. December 11th, 2009 at 13:10 | #8

    It would appear that comcast is trying to recycle a number of ip's that already have a bad reputation. I received a call last night from a dear elderly friend who had also received "the email" from Comcast. I went over, took their ip address and ran a blacklist check on it from DNSStuff.com. It had 3 listings. So being as their IP is dynamically assigned, I shutdown their computer and their modem. Waited an hour, had a nice visit and rebooted. Only to discover the IP did not change. I know this doesn't always work, but in the past it has been comcasts advice to their customers to follow that procedure, especially when they are challenged about giving out dirty dynamically assigned ip's. I contacted comcast in behalf of my friends and was met with abrasive rudeness to the point that they disconnected the call. When I called back I was put on hold (waited 45 minutes) and then hung up myself. Since I have 5 static business class IP's with them, I call the business "hotline" as they've been far more helpful in the past. They wouldn't touch the problem at all much less refer me to someone they might know in Comcast Customer Service dept. Without going into many other details, when I put them on port 587 their outgoing email was working once again.

    Bottom line, check the reputation of the ip you've been assigned. Chances are it's already dirty and been used for spamming in the past. Now it's been assigned to you. As such it's triggering their internal email security and flagging an already crappy ip within their own system. Good luck in changing it. The only way around this that I know at this point is to comply with them or purchase a static ip.

  9. January 13th, 2010 at 21:56 | #9

    I received one of those Comcast emails this morning.. I've also encountered the same BS responses from them.. My gut feeling is that this is "BIG BROTHER" at work not, spam, dirty IP's or a virus etc etc. It's really ticking me off too! If I send 10 emails a day it's a heavy day for me. All of my Comcast buddies are still on port 25.

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