If you are watching me right now, odds are you have cable. Able to watch thru the modem, probably supplied by the cable company. You may rent that modem but do you know it can be much cheaper to buy your own modem? But legally can you do that? It’s why one family called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN — No matter if you are rich or poor, it’s good to be like Alejandro and his wife when it comes to watching where your hard earned money goes.

Alejandro Demesa: “My wife is really big into couponing. She is always cutting coupons and taking advantage of buy one get one free. We cut corners we do because every little bit helps. When we are not home the AC the power is not on. Everywhere we can save we got to save,”

And it’s that desire to save, to not waste money that convinced them to take a close look at their cable bill..

Alejandro Demesa: “To see exactly what the charges were, we noticed we were paying a modem rental fee of $8 a month.”

This is your modem box, which can provide the tv signal, the internet and phone from the cable company.

Alejandro Demesa: “She asked me if they sell moderns and I told her yeah you can buy a modern at pretty much any electronic store. I think they go as cheap as $60.”

Online the price for cable modems ranges from $59 to $139 or more.

Alejandro did the math. They had been renting a modem for $8 a month, $96 a year, for six years spending $576 to rent the modem.

Alejandro Demesa: “For something that only cost $60 dollars to purchase.”

So Alejandro’s wife called Comcast.

Alejandro Demesa: “If we buy our own modern do we still have to pay the fee? And they said no and that is exactly what we did. We bought a modern and we no longer have to pay the $8 fee.

They returned the rented modem to Comcast. But, Alejandro says when he signed up for cable, nobody told him he was allowed to buy his own much cheaper modem.

Alejandro Demesa: “At no time did they say you can save yourself some money if you buy a modem. I’m pretty sure if all the customers new that they can buy a modern for $60 and avoid paying a modern rental fee on a permeate basis, everybody would jump on that.”

So he went to the top of the company’s corporate ladder.

Alejandro Demesa: “So at that point I wrote a letter to the CEO and I was contacted by someone here. They told me they are well in regulatory compliance to charge a modem rental fee because it’s their equipment that we are renting.”

Well Howard, if a company rents you a device it would be much cheaper to buy legally, do they have to tell you that information?

Howard Finkelstein: ” No. A private business does not have to tell you ways to save money on their products. In fact, that’s capitalism, the American way. You don’t tell a customer to go buy a product from someone else. That’s the customers job.”

We contacted the Comcast spokesperson who said customers absolutely have a choice as to whether they rent or buy a modem. On their website they even show customers which modems they need to work for their home.

She told us, one advantage to renting their modem is that it allows Comcast to troubleshoot remotely if you have a problem, fixing it without sending a technician out.

She concluded, much like people debate the merits of buying or leasing a car, there are benefits to both options.

Alejandro Demesa: “I know $8 a month looks like nothing, but imagine $8 a month for a year.”

Alejandro loves watching cable TV. Even more so now, that is saving a few dollars a month on his cable bill.

Alejandro Demesa: “If my wife had not looked at that bill in detail we would have continued to pay that $8 a month on a permanent basis.”

So should you lease or buy? It depends. You can save money by buying a modem but it’s easier to rent cause if the cable box breaks, it’s replaced for free, if you buy a modem and your box becomes obsolete, you have to buy another one.

And if you decide to buy instead of rent, Comcast has made it easy. The link to their website is under this Help Me Howard.

Hooked up to a problem that’s costing you? Wanna broadcast it? Connect with us. We have a few channels to explore to find your solution. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, Seven News.


E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN



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