This pilot fish signs up for Internet service with his cable provider, but he's not really interested in renting a modem from the cable company.

"For $59, I was able to buy the same model of modem the cable company wanted to rent me," says fish. "I figured that would be much cheaper than paying $5 a month for a couple years.

"A few months later I moved to a new city, and when I signed up for cable Internet I was again able to use my own cable modem. After a couple years we moved yet again; this time we switched to DSL and retired the old modem."

But a month or two after that last move, fish gets a bill for $250 from his old cable provider. What's it for? "Unreturned equipment."

So fish calls to see what equipment he hadn't returned. Customer-service rep tells him the charge is for failing to return the cable modem.

Fish explains that it was his own modem, and asks why he should give it to the cable company. He also points out that a new modem costs around $60, so a $250 charge is outrageous.

Rep says she'll have to dig into the matter. Next day she calls back, and tells fish he'll need to call the technical services department. Fish calls the number she gives him and explains the situation to the tech services guy, who pulls up fish's records and starts working his way backward through them.

"It turns out that about six months after I signed up for cable Internet, they started charging me rent for a cable modem," fish says. "My modem.

"The end result was that they threw out the unreturned equipment charge, added up the months of rent they had charged me for my own equipment -- and cut me a check for $360."

Sharky can't cut you a check, but if I use your true tale of IT life, I'll send you a snazzy Shark Shirt. So send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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