Can a cable company deny my use of a cable modem purchased at a garage sale?

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Can a cable company deny my use of a cable modem purchased at a garage sale?

I understand digital boxes are property of the company and they can control that but this is mine, not theirs. All modems used through the company are either purchased through them or third party vendors. I have had friends swap modems before with no issue but now they want a receipt which I don’t have and they cannot contact the previous owner. I feel they think I stole it or something. They also stated that there is a bad debt associated with that account. Am I out the money I paid for this modem?

Asked on August 16, 2010 under General Practice, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The provider of services--in this case, cable internet--has a right to put restrictions or conditions on that service. A legal condition is to require that modems be purchased  through approved sources and/or that if a modem was purchased from a private party, that it can be shown that it was a bona fide purchase from someone who him- or herself had the modem legally. They can also require that there be no arrears, bad debt, or money otherwise owing on a modem acquired from a third party. So, in this case, yes, they can deny you the right to use that modem. It's possible that you may have recourse against whomever sold it to you, if there is a bad debt associated with it, making it unusuable for its stated purpose, and that fact was not disclosed to you.


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