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port blocking fun

 Here's a story that will amuse many of you I'm sure: 

Over the weekend (starting Saturday morning best I can tell) Comcast 
magically decided I was sending out spam, and put a block on port 25 (on 
their end).  This meant no incoming or outgoing traffic bound for port 25. 
I'd been using their smtp server for outgoing mail, and I couldn't even 
connect to that. 

Now, I realize what they're doing, and I don't have a problem with it 
generally, since 95% of their customers would never figure out that they're 
being blocked, and they probably do have a virus.  But if a customer *does* 
care that they're being blocked, I would expect a little better response. 
And don't get me started on how the hell blocking *inbound* mail to my 
machine helps their "reducing spam" cause... 

I finally realize there's a problem Sunday night, fire up nmap and confirm 
that there's a firewall somewhere filtering any port 25 traffic, and get on 
the phone. 

2 full days (for a total of 4 days blocked), more cuss words than I'd care 
to enumerate, and 6 phone calls later, I'm finally unblocked and getting a 
deluge of blu mail. 

A few things I learned: 
 - when a tech support guy says "we're physically unable to remove the 
block.  Ever.", he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. 
 - if they suggest you send a request for more info to [hidden email], 
don't bother.  You'll just get an automated reply that gives you a bunch of 
pointers on how to configure your outlook express client 
 - their ticket system has some peculiarities: starting Sunday night there 
was a ticket for removing my block (which was confirmed by the 3 different 
people I talked to in the middle of this fiasco) and after the block was 
removed, the last guy couldn't see that there was ever a ticket at all, let 
alone what the resolution was. 
 - apparently removing the block involves resetting the cable modem.  This 
matters, because if you have their digital voice as your phone line, and 
you're on the phone with their tech support while they perform the unblock, 
it will seem like they hung up on you. 

I'm guessing if I'd been pissed off enough with the first call, this 
probably could've been fixed Sunday night, since it doesn't appear that 
anyone except the second-to-last guy I talked to did anything useful (and I 
was pissed at him because I thought he hung up on me). 

Asking to be "escalated" yielded varying results, from actually sending me 
to more knowledgeable technician, to doing a merry-go-round in their 
call-router and ending up back at the same first-tier support center that I 
started with. 

Times like these make me sorry that I'm a cheapskate and don't spring for 
Speakeasy or the like... 

Hope you enjoyed, 

PS: if anyone needs to know how to configure Sendmail to send outbound mail 
to the smarthost's port 587 instead of 25, I can help you, since that was 
one of the intermediate half-fixes... 

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