Comcast is particularly bad. Comcast is literally my only option for fast internet, or I would leave them in a heart beat. (rural area.. too far from the telco switch for decent DSL, terrain makes wireless options bad, and the satellite option is decent but has ridiculous latency) Anytime I have ever had to call Comcast through normal channels they won't let me thru to level 2 or beyond until i have participated with them and gone thru their script of things... "reset the modem", "open control panel.. check this check that", "restart your computer", "plug your computer directly into the modem and restart it again". They have had me go thru this stuff when it's obvious the problem is upstream or network related, if an outage hasn't been declared in the area, their position is the user messed something up on their end, or has malware that is causing the problem. AND this is all after sitting in the hold queue for awhile waiting to speak to a human.
I've had level 2 and 3 techs agree with me before that Comcast should come up with a way to classify customers so that some of us can bypass level 1, but it's never happened.
FWIW, the best way to get someones attention without sitting through the hold for human, then level one "it's your problem" phase is to post on http://forums.comcast.com/ even that can be sketchy and problem prone, but if you include enough relative details of what's broke it does get their attention.