More Proof That Free Never Is

Last year, Mr. FP decided to cancel our cable subscription (I probably would have done it years ago, but he watches sports). It was costing us about 70 bucks a month, so even with our new MLB TV subscription, the savings were substantial.

We wanted, though, to keep our cable Internet service, especially since I do a little work from home with it. And when Mr. FP called to cancel the TV part of our subscription, he was told that it was actually cheaper to keep the most basic television service. The bundled price for that and Internet was lower than the price for just Internet to the tune of about five dollars a month.

Well, fine. We could pick up local channels in HD right through our TV and we used it once in a while to catch The Big Bang Theory on a Thursday night or to pacify the spawn with a little Dinosaur Train. Then, seemingly inexplicably, the service stopped working. We turned on the TV and there was no signal. Disappointment!

And suddenly Mr. FP got sucked into a fairly draining series of events to maintain our “free” service:

  1. Call cable company, push buttons, wait on hold. Find out we now must have a cable box; get irritated.
  2. Drive to cable office on way to grocery store to retrieve box.
  3. Install box. Have difficulty; call cable company again. Get irritated.
  4. Realize that our TV service is no longer in HD. Get irritated.
  5. Get over it.

Did anyone else notice that that’s a lot of time, energy, disappointment, and irritation to invest in a service that we never actually asked for? Since it was cheaper for us, we allowed this unnecessary service to clutter up our lives. We got it working now and I’m sure we’ll watch The Big Bang Theory again on Thursday.

But you can bet I will be more selective as to what “free” goods and services I accept. I see now, for instance, that Mr. FP was right to talk me out of the free landline phone service we were offered. What about you, readers? Have you been burned by “free”?

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

4 responses to “More Proof That Free Never Is”

  1. TomTX says :

    Hm. Okay, why not just ignore the ‘free” cable TV instead of going through the hassle of making it work? Just consider it a $5 discount on your internet bill.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Well, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe we should have, but Mr. FP does like to watch an occasional football game. And you know how it is with that kind of thing–you always think that you’re juuuust a few minutes away from having it set up right, when it might be more like an hour!

  2. Amy K says :

    Same boat here – we have the cheap cable because it saves us $5. Comcast sent us the cable box and I had to ask my husband what it was for. Apparently it’s free for the first year(?) and then we’d have to rent it. We gave it back because we have an alternate route (computer –> Windows Media Extender) for our main TV.

    In a similar vein I decided I wanted to watch more television. My 3 year old has dropped weekend naps and actually gets to bed before 10 on weekends, leaving us an hour to watch shows on Saturday and Sunday nights. What to watch? And how? We have Amazon Prime, looked into streaming options and even buying a new smart TV. Finally realized we could stream through our Wii to the bedroom TV and didn’t have to buy anything.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Oh, that’s clever. We let our Amazon Prime lapse because I’m no longer a student and the $79 seemed better spent elsewhere in the short term.

      Apparently we are required to have the cable box. Actually, as we’re sorting stuff for our move, we found ANOTHER, presumably obsolete, cable box in our bedroom closet that we had, evidently, been required to have but had never bothered to install.

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