Comcast completes switch to new e-mail system

Problems described as not systemwide

March 02, 2002|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Rebecca Wilson of Towson is no computer whiz, but, she said, she knows how to follow directions.

Still, she spent more than four hours on the phone with Comcast Corp. representatives last weekend trying to switch to a new e-mail address. And she had to go out for a new modem, to boot.

But her new e-mail address is now working - and just in time. Yesterday was the first day that Comcast customers could no longer use their e-mail addresses that ended with @home.com.

"I'm not experiencing any problems, I can't get mad at them for that," Wilson said. "But going through the process was really pretty awful."

A bankrupt At Home Corp., which provided the high-speed Internet backbone for Comcast, said in December that it would shut down its network, giving Comcast a few months to transfer customers to its own high-speed network.

Comcast moved more than 950,000 customers from the At Home network to its network in January, and it has been converting customers' e-mail addresses ever since.

A customer with e-mail address that ended in @home.com now has one that ends in @comcast.net.

"Last night, the former Excite@Home network ceased to exist and things have gone very, very well," Mitchell Schmale, a Comcast spokesman, said yesterday.

`We are currently...'

But there were still reports of some problems, and a recording on a company help line - last updated yesterday morning - said, "We are currently experiencing service interruptions with the comcast.net email in all areas."

Schmale said the recording was a misstatement and was being removed. There were no system-wide problems, he said.

Some customers interviewed yesterday said problems earlier in the week were smoothed over by yesterday, while others agreed with Comcast that the change was seamless.

"It went pretty smoothly," said Brian Ross, chief technical officer of Baltimore Web design firm Xchange Interactive Group.

Ross said only one of the handful of employees there who use Comcast when they work from home had a glitch with e-mail, and it was easily fixed.

Not everyone was as lucky.

None of the three e-mail addresses were working at John Devine's home in Phoenix when he last checked it on Thursday. Devine hadn't checked his e-mail accounts as of yesterday afternoon to see if they were working. But he said that Comcast credited his account some for the days he lost service.

Case-by-case decisions

It is company policy that refunds are decided on a case-by-case basis, Schmale said. He also said the company would continue to fine-tune as the new system is launched.

"Sometimes there's some tweaking that needs to take place," he said. "But for a vast majority of our customers, things went smoothly."

Mike Galiazzo's biggest complaint is that he now can't send out more than 50 e-mails at a time under the new system. "We're supposed to tell everybody our e-mail's changed," the Sparks resident said. "What if you've got more than 100 e-mails in your e-mail address book?"

The 50-message limit is to prohibit people from sending out spam, or junk e-mail, Schmale said.

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