Posted by Steve Gulsvig on Nov 09, 2017

After a couple of years of leasing a high-speed modem for my internet services at my home, I decided that I was foolishly wasting $6 per month for this service. Not really a lot of money per month, but it was just the principle behind it. Six dollars here, three dollars there, extra speed, another tier, and pretty soon you end up with a very expensive cable and internet bill by the end of the month. I figured not seeing that one line item charge every month would make me happy. I went to the local big box store and bought a modem that was identical to the one I had been leasing. It cost me about $80 plus tax, so in about 14 months I figured I’d break even on my investment. Of course, I didn’t take into consideration the time this little move would cost me. 

First, there was the research online to figure out if indeed the modem I was purchasing was identical to the one I was leasing. (1 hour) Then, I had to physically purchase the modem. (1 hour) Next, I had to power down my router and everything attached to it in order to install my new modem. (1 hour) Then, I had to “activate” the new modem by calling my service provider and give them all of the information about the new modem. Since they dropped my call about three-quarters of the way through this process, I had to start over. (2 hours) I then had to power everything back up and make sure all of my equipment was acquiring proper IP addresses on the same network. Of course, some of the configurations didn’t work. I ended up spending another 2 hours troubleshooting and manually correcting the items that didn’t work. Finally, in order to get credit for my old, leased modem and have them stop charging me for it, I had to physically return the modem “to my nearest cable office”. 

I drove to my nearest office. (15 minutes) I figured I’d whisk in, drop that sucker off, and be on my way. Wrong! I opened the door to the office lobby and there was a line wrapped around the room as if it was a popular ride at Disneyland. 

Standing in line at a cable company is a lot like standing in line at the DMV. There are very few happy people there. Most are angry and many are willing to share their frustrations, unabashed and out loud. I actually feel sorry for the poor employees who have to endure this type of crowd hour after hour. The woman that helped me seemed genuinely surprised by my kind demeanor and perked up and engaged me in conversation when she realized that I wasn’t there to insult her, complain about my time in line, or criticize her company. (There’s a lesson here, but that’s another topic.) 45 minutes later I was on my way home. (Plus 15 more minutes of travel.) So, let’s see…after a total time investment of 8 hours and 15 minutes, I am now able to look at my cable bill with the satisfaction of knowing that I’m not paying them $6 per month to lease a modem. I’m happy. Until I consider that if I worked for $10/hour, I’d have to tack another $80 onto the cost of that modem. And, if my hourly rate is $25, $50, $75, or higher/hour, well, you can see that I should have done the calculations long before embarking on this mission. 

I realize that if you’re making more than $75-$100/hour, you’ve probably got $10/hour people working for you who can do this for you, but it still costs you money. Here’s the takeaway: the next time you’re faced with a similar situation, or you want to stand on principle, or simply prove a point, you may want to count the cost first. Is it worth it and are you really saving money?