Personal Finance

3 Things I Learned From the Cable Guy

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At first I was annoyed when I moved into a new apartment and was told I couldn’t set up the Internet myself. Moving comes with a very long to-do list, and I’m happy I could take care of most of the items in a matter of minutes, like starting utilities and changing my address. As such, I was displeased when my Internet provider told me I had to wait at home for a technician who might show up between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for an installation that could take up to four hours.

There’s something to be said for face-to-face interaction though. I wasn’t thrilled to spend three hours of my workday with the Internet guy (and my dog, who wouldn’t stop barking at the man), but the chatty technician ended up giving me some good tips.

1. Your Neighbors Will Try to Steal Your Internet

After the Internet Man installed the modem, he called me over to look at it.

“Always have it facing this way,” he said, positioning the unit so none of the information on it would be visible from the window. I live in Chicago, where (like most densely populated areas) homes are very close to each other, and he said it’s common for neighbors to look in your window, copy the modem information and piggyback on your connection. “I’ve actually seen people looking into windows with binoculars,” he said.

You can solve this issue by keeping that info out of view, but you can also change the network’s name and password from the default settings. An Internet leech will not only slow down your connection, they might try to spy on your online activity. Wi-Fi is only as secure as the people using it, so you don’t want a stranger tapping into your home connection, where you probably access your email, bank accounts and social media profiles.

2. Cable Is Too Expensive

The Internet Man works for a large, national company that provides cable and Internet services. I expected him to pitch me the cable bundle when he came to set up my Internet, which he did. I told him no thanks, we don’t have and never intend to subscribe to cable.

“Yeah, I don’t have it either. Too expensive.” he responded with a laugh. I laughed, too, because I didn’t expect such honesty. “You can stream pretty much everything you want.”

3. You Can Sell Your Old Hardware

This was the fourth time I moved in three years, and I had to buy a new modem every time. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes I used the same service provider, but it didn’t matter, and the companies made me purchase the hardware. I now own three spare modems.

The Internet Man told me to ask his company and others about buyback programs. Sometimes there are promotions, he said, but even if the company isn’t advertising such a thing, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask if they’ll make an offer on your hardware.

Moving is expensive, so I was happy to get some money-saving tips throughout the process. I know I’m not the only person going through a housing transition this summer, so if you’re relocating, make sure you’ve budgeted for all sorts of odd expenses. You should also keep a close eye on your credit during a move — people frequently lose track of a final bill as a result of an address change, and it could end up going to a debt collector. You can stay on top of your credit standing for free with tools on Credit.com.

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Image: iStock

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