I had to call MY utility company while walking uphill in the snow

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In the old days of yore -- like, last year -- when people were moving into their own house, they had to call the electric company and ask to be connected. Then there was the water company. The cable company. And on the drudgery went.

But now there's a new online free service where if you're moving into a house today, you can go to WhiteFence.com and, from the web site, get pricing for electricity, gas, phone, cable or satellite, internet services and even subscribe to your hometown newspaper. This way it can save everyone from developing carpal tunnel syndome, from all that dial pushing on the phone. (I sound snarky, but I'm really just jealous that I didn't think of starting a business like this.)

In any case, I can see how it saves money, just as much as time. Seven years after moving into my house, I'm still wondering if I should have gone with the other garbage collection company. I went with the one that had the more recognizable name. But what if the other one was less expensive? It's not like I need to go with the high-priced garbage collectors. I'm still wondering if I made the right decision because that day, and every other day since, I've been too lazy to call and comparison shop on the phone. But WhiteFence could have answered that question for me. Or better yet, I could have dreamed up the idea for this business myself, instead of CEO Eric Danziger.

I wonder what I was doing the moment Eric came up with the idea for this service, which will probably make him financially set for life. Hopefully I was doing something noble like rescuing children from a burning orphanage or researching a cure for a major disease. Of course, since I've never done anything like that, I was probably doing something useful with my time like watching a rerun of Matlock. Irony is a cruel mistress.

Geoff Williams is a freelance business journalist, primarily for Entrepreneur magazine, and is the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America

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