Yesterday, I was playing around with domain names and stumbled on — Old Cooter Dot Com — as a possibility for a fun new music site. Now, before we get into the nuts and bolts of that technical experience, let’s be clear that “cooter” is a North American brown shell river turtle with yellow head banding. Mr. Slowsky, anyone? The first thing I do when I want to see if a domain is taken or not, is type the name into my web browser. If the site comes up dead, then you take the next step toward registration. Old Cooter was, indeed, dead — but it was given an unwanted, and disturbing, new life by Comcast.
We use Comcast for cable internet access and I was surprised and disappointed to see the Comcast-branded “Site Not Found” webpage for Old Cooter — this process of intercepting search errors is called “DNS Hijacking” and you can see what it looks like in the screenshot below — I wanted my generic, non-vested interest, dead end error page back.
Luckily, I saw the “Disable this error service” link on the Comcast “Domain Helper” page and I immediately clicked on it to plan my escape.
Clicking on the “disable” link brought me to this black, white and grey page where I had to do a lot of reading through the Comcast mumbo-jumbo.
As you can see, Comcast doesn’t make it easy to “Opt Out” of this DNS hijacking. You have to enter a valid email address as well as the MAC address of your cable modem. I bet 99.99% of the people who want out of the Comcast Hijacking stop here because they have no idea what a MAC address is or how to find it.
Why can’t this DNS Hijacking be “Opt In” instead of “Opt Out?”
I clicked on the link on the page to help me find my MAC address just to see how easy or hard it would be to find with Comcast’s help.
The link takes you to the setup page for your cable modem.
From there, you’re on you’re own trying to find the right MAC address to enter into the Opt Out page.
I entered all the information needed to Opt Out of Comcast’s DNS Hijacking and I received this confirmation page that my effort was successful.
I wasn’t done yet!
Comcast sent me an email I had to respond to if I really, really, really still wanted to Opt Out.
Here’s the email from Comcast.
I had to click on a hotlink in the email to start the removal of my Hijacked DNS.
I’m not done yet!
I’m not out yet!
After clicking on the Opt Out link, Comcast presented me with this page telling me I would be Opted Out within two business days.
I wonder why the Opt Out process isn’t automatic?
I’m not out yet!
Now I sit and wait to hear back from Comcast to confirm that my DNS error pages have returned to their dispossessed glory.
Oh, Comcast. Continue to disappoint us and charge us an arm and a leg to do it. 🙁
Comcast could be a gentle giant and really still be a monster in the marketplace. This DNS hijacking is so gimmicky and tasteless. Why bother? What’s in it for them besides a few pennies from Yahoo! search ads?
I received this email from Comcast on August 20, 2009: