The Sirius XM Subscription Scam

For Christmas, my husband got me a satellite radio for my car. I had a super old system and this one would replace my old unit and could be docked in my car. Sweet!

Sweet until I got scammed by the subscription department at Sirius XM when I tried to activate my account.

I waited forever to put the unit in my car and set up service, but when I finally did, I was shocked to learn that they wanted over $200 for a yearly subscription to all their available channels. I have never been a fan of paying for radio, especially since my husband works in terrestrial radio and I have the luxuries of Pandora, Spotify and my iPod, but I was willing to pay a few extra bucks a month for commercial-free tunes geared towards my musical preferences.

Sirius/XM was never terribly reliable. It would lose its signal randomly and stations replayed the same songs within an hour or two of each other. Yet, even with these annoyances, I liked the idea of listening to the all 90s channel on my way to work or writing to the tunes of Coffeehouse. That was until I found I would be paying twice as much as other customers.

My neighbor told me he paid $94 a year for his premium service . My mom pays a mere $84 annually for the same plan. When I called, over a holiday weekend, they wanted about $230 for 12 months which included taxes and applicable service fees.  Fuck that!

I told the customer service reps that I knew people were getting the same plan at a significantly lower cost. They proceeded to tell me that there were no promotions and to try back again. I did that, and again, no specials. I was baffled. How could they keep telling me to sign up and call for new deals when there never were any? Didn’t they want to sign on a new customer, even at a discounted rate? I mean, Sirius/XM’s churn rate is insane and would be even worse if they didn’t broker deals with current customers to stay on board.

I finally asked to talk to a manager who told me he had some special promo code that the initial reps didn’t have. It didn’t quite make sense to me, but when he offered me at a deal for all the channels at $109, I said I’d take it. I had to call back with my radio’s ID number for them to activate it, so they made a note on my account.

When I called back, they told me the $109 subscription was for a selected plan – one that doesn’t give you all the channels the satellite radio giant offers. Um, hello, if I am paying for a service I can get for free (kind of), why would I only want some channels and not all? I explained this to the rep who said he couldn’t do anything for me, so he put me through to a manager. Suddenly, she had a deal for $131 for the premium subscription plan, which was still more than my mom and neighbor were paying, so I protested. They couldn’t match those deals or do  much better.

I was curious why only the managers could get me a deal and the initial sales rep could only offer me something for $200+. When I asked, the manager declined to comment, simply saying she was sorry. I went on, asking why all the managers had a code for a promotion that was locked to my radio purchase, yet when I called to subscribe, no one was able to offer me what apparently I was “entitled” to anyway.

I kept at it, demanding an answer from the manager about why I wasn’t told I could get a deal by the first 10 reps I spoke to. She hung up on me. Bitch. I decided to call back and the next manager I spoke to read from a pre-written script, apologizing for the trouble and brokering me a yearly premium channel deal for $185.

Excuse me?!? $185? That is $50 more than the manager who hung up on me offered. I asked her how this was possible and she was just as dumbfounded as the rest. Finally, she gave me a deal at $124 for everything I wanted, but told me I had to pay $4/month for internet access to stations and buy another dock to listen to the unit in my home, which would run me about $39.99.

After all this shit, I thought to myself, why do I need to pay for radio? Yeah, it’s a luxury and a convenience, but the hassle and bullshit that I went through to get it, along with the unfairness, left such a bad taste in my mouth, so I told them I was no longer interested. I mean, why would I want to pay more than other people, and why should other people pay more than me? I’m not trying to sound cheap, but the whole thing is such a scam. If I had service previously (which I did and conveniently, they couldn’t find my account despite a myriad of information I provided them), they would have done whatever they could to keep me to lessen their churn rate. I have friends who call every three months to broker a new, cheaper deal. So Sirius XM, what gives?

19 responses to “The Sirius XM Subscription Scam

  1. Sorry to hear about this, it does make an awful story. What I believe is happening is a problem not just with Sirius XM, but many more. The list will continue to grow and the reason why I believe this is happening is because of the rapid change of content delivery for many companies. Adapting how content (specifically media such as music, movies & TV series) is being delivery to users in newer ways that are much simpler and internet based. Simpler, because you can get this same service and content in an all-in-one device, like your mobile phone (why Sirius XM is losing height and becoming desperate, you would think they make their services cheaper, but no). Internet, because all we do is be online and stay online, which we are already paying good money to which ever Internet provider we individually have. A lot of companies are getting hurt and this affects the way they do business. Direct TV just got hit, we’ll see soon what happens to customer plans and services. Optimum was on the same boat. The new internet era will impact many clienteles for the better or for the worst and if certain companies don’t adapt with the new ways you will see crappier customer service. I am surprise to still have Netflix; this will change real soon for me. For music, I have had better luck with Spotify. Now that they have added Padora-like radio + you can listen to any songs you think of and make your own playlist. It tops and ceases Padora services (Another Service that plays the same songs over and over). Yesterday I switch the auto renew subscription to off on my Itunes settings. Survival of the fittest.

  2. do not give xm a cc because once they have it the charges will not stop. xm has not provided me service since i talked to them a year ago and cancelled upon my 1 years free subscription with a purchase of my chev.However i did subscribe for an additional year and paid for this in advance. the year has past and another and some and now I have been sent to collections because my credit card expired and they could not continue charging it. i have refused to provide them with the new expiration due to the fact i dont want their shitty service and have been paying for a service in which i had refused for too long already. I never signed a deal with them ever, but only with the dealer who provided me with a 1 yr year free subsctription of service. Now they are looking for additional funds for service in which they claim i recieve in which i have not other than the preview channel and in which i cancelled over a year ago.These people feel it is thier god given right to charge anyone for any amount for the customers which they feel have no have right or say. I will not pay them for this brutally dishonest and ludacrus poor business conduct.

  3. Beware of “automatic renewal” which I just learned the hard way. When I called to cancel, they told me I had to pay for the “extra time” they left the radio on. I asked why they did – if I hadn’t paid the bill, shouldn’t they have shut it off then? They threaten collection, which I do not want for a $25 bill, but I feel totally screwed (and not in a good way) for having to pay this. It does say on the back of your bill that you are automatically renewed unless you cancel, so beware! I thought I could just throw the renewal bill out and I was good. What a rip off. And when you call to cancel, you have to listen to their sales pitch a million times. I finally yelled at old Jose and he shut up. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, he told me “he was with other customers (I’ll bet he was) and would take 15 to 20 minutes to get to me.” Good one Jose!

  4. I bought the extra radio for myself because I believed from the promo that I could connect it on my plan. So long story short I opened the box never set it up and found out today that they are charging both of our accounts AND to cancel my husband’s(which we never activated) it will cost $75 to break a contract that I never knew we had. So I never got the additional months that I thought I was getting and have a useless radio and docking station!!! amazing!!! The number of care people that I dealt with was over 20 and I was disconnected twice. NICE!! My husband says if it is too good to be true it will cost you> Shame on Sirius XM> They lost this customer!!!!

  5. Our Attorney Generals should be on this!

  6. Sirius is notorious for bad customer service! Years back we were trading in our car and I called to tell them I do not want to renew my subscription as I would no longer own the car, the person on the other end sounded bored and kept clicking the mute button on me. Pan to one year later, I get a collection notice in the mail saying they are taking me to court for unpaid service and charging me a court fee! I called no less than 10 times trying to explain that I did indeed let them know I was no longer in procession of the car and that I did inform them I did not wish to resubscribe, I was hung up on, called a liar, had one rep tell me I better pay my bill or they are going to ruin my credit, and one tell me that they take “deadbeats” to court. Finally after months of going back and forth with these losers I called Cadillac assistance and explained what was going on, they called and a manager from Cadillac called me back a few days later and told me they documented each call and that they had 5 hours of calls to them and even though they explained who they were they were hung up on, left on hold, and cursed at!! Cadillac was very apologetic saying they were truly embarrassed by the way Sirius treats GM’s customers and insisted they would pay the outstanding amount plus any court or late fees Sirius was claiming, both my husband and myself told them thank you but let Sirius take us to court…I dare them!

  7. steven houser

    I generally let it lapse and wait for a deal offer. I called last year for a 6 month renewal – for $30. I paid per credit card and made it expressly clear to destroy my card # after the charges went through. I was told no problem.
    Being trusting, I forgot about the issue and moved on.
    I just called after a letter re: renewal. It turns out I was charged $188 for a year and they kept my credit card number on file and would have renewed had I not called!
    I am furious with them! They had the gaul to say it would be a $2 fee to delete my card number, but they would be kind and waive it. They offered me many deals. I offered them mine: free for a year to make up for the cheat they pulled on me. They said no, so I offered to post the truth on the internet. If I cost them a few customers, then I have done my job, and I have spared a few souls the pain I went through.
    If you can get it for $5 a month, sure. Any more = NO.

  8. Sirius radio has scammed me yet again. I have two radio’s on two different accounts and they have been charging me for four radio’s, two on each account. I have tried numerous times for several hours each to get this corrected. I have no way to prove that they do anything to change it except a reference number. When I cite the various reference numbers, they all say the same thing, “it doesn’t say anything about that m’am, I’m sorry”
    Credit? Ha. I get a $75 credit because I complained about being charged $75 to cancel which equals zero but they call it a credit. And then a $10 and change fee for??? leaving me with a $64 plus change credit which translates to, I’m still paying to $10 plus to cancel!!!
    I have spent hours on the phone, exhausted trying to cut through their ignorance…I am speaking english but somehow, they don’t understand!!!
    I just decided to cancel everything and when they asked why, I said, this! It’s very frustrating to not feel heard and the changes that were requested, not being recorded or made.
    They are not worth it and they just cost themselves 2 accounts and everyone I can speak to about it.

  9. Steer clear of these people…….Stay away from these people………Unwanted Sirius XM phone calls after the 3 month free trial expired….hope this helps I copied it from their website…….. If you do not wish to receive sales calls from SiriusXM, you may ask us to place your telephone number on SiriusXM’s Do Not Call (“DNC”) List. Please allow up to 30 days for us to remove your information from active telemarketing and telephone solicitation lists. You may make your request in writing or by telephone. Call SiriusXM’s Listener Care Center at 1-866-303-5603 or Write to: SiriusXM Radio Inc., “Do Not Call” Compliance Manager, P.O. Box 33174, Detroit, MI 48232. When you make a request be sure to include your name, your account number(s), and all telephone numbers you want to be included on our DNC list. If your information changes, please notify us as soon as possible. You will remain on our DNC List indefinitely, until you advise us that you wish to be removed from our DNC List.

  10. I know someone from customer service and she told me that they don’t have access to promo codes to apply the good deals, not unless the promo is pre-selected on their account/radio ID, then they can apply it. The customers can avail the promo if they receive a notice on the mail/e-mail indicating the radio ID since the promo is radio-specific. With regards to the ‘scam’ thing, their plans are all on automatic renewal, its best to pay just for a one-time payment using your card and don’t let it be stored on their system so that once the renewal comes you will receive an invoice, then you’ll get to decide whether to continue it or cancel and that’s where you can get the good deals. Check this –>

  11. Sirius XM == Fail

    I also had a horrific experience after trying to cancel. They were basically swindling me by saying I had to pay for current use so give us a card. I did, but I used AMEX thankfully. Their angle was the auto-renewable was coming at $300+ for a year, but I said I didn’t want it. But I knew they had my card on file now so they could renew it anyway I asked to cancel. The rep said she would transfer me to cancellation which was of course answered by a meatball. I said I wanted to cancel, was put on hold and it hung up. Long story short (like others above) I called no less than six times on a Saturday. On the last call I told the woman I had the AMEX concierge on the other line and I was arranging to have all charges for both cars voided (which I did in the end). She actually did cancel the radio apparently, I got rid of the vehicle since. What a joke. Avoid these guys like the plague.

  12. Beware of Sirius XM and auto renewals. You will come out loosing money……. I do appreciate all the posts before me. At least I did not get ripped off as they did. I had been a Sirius subscriber for years, and auto renewed every year. Noticed that the price went up every year.
    Then several months ago I gave my son my pickup truck with the Sirius Radio. I called Sirius and told them that someone else had the vehicle and suggested they send him any renewal offers to see if he would be interested in keeping the subscription before it expires. Of course, the service rep either had no idea how to do that of just did not care. I made sure I cancelled my credit card with Sirius so they could not just re-bill it every year and told them to bill by paper.
    (Which by the way is a $2.00 charge. Furthermore, I’ll never give my credit card for automatic renewals for anything again, you always get ripped-off it seems).
    Then today, after I received the invoice I noticed that if I did not call to cancel that the subscription automatically renews for one year and i would be responsible for the full subscription amount. So I called to cancel, and after all the automated telephone stuff, and when they hear you say cancel you go to a live person, so that they can do the ‘boiler room drops’. I told them I did not have the vehicle any longer; she said I could transfer my account to my new Sirius equipped vehicle of course for the full renewal price of the subscription of $193.91 for the 2014 year. I said no, I don’t miss Sirius one bit.
    She went into the drops to keep me, by offering three different discounts, A one year $86 dollar monthly subscription, then 6 months free and so on. I said no to all. She then said who ever has the radio can get these same discount offers if they might be interested. That they would have to open their own subscription. I said that’s up to them.
    My account expired on 12-28-13, however, I cancelled on 12-23-13. I was concerned that Sirius would try to add a cancellation fee. Sirius did not, but if I had not called and canceled before the 12-28-13 date Sirius would have automatically renewed the subscription. Despite my earlier calls to them informing them I no longer had the radio. The fine print on the invoice said I would owe the full 2014 $193.91 subscription amount if I would have cancelled after the subscription renewal date. What a back door scam that is!
    I received email confirmation of cancellation. Since I cancelled early, I got a $6.86 credit, of course it is not refundable. On my paper billing invoice the following charges were listed: the 2014 Sirius XM service fee of $$159.39, Radio Service Fees $19.92, Invoice fee of $2.00 then there is county taxes $4.08 and state taxes $8.52. Funny though, there is no explanation of what county or what state receives these taxes. I live in Utah so I guess it goes there?
    Amazing isn’t it, you know attorneys write these rules.
    I guess I really never liked the Satellite Radio that much anyway, we have not missed it. I think it is a rip-off. I am now Sirius free, seriously.

  13. Citibank has virtual credit card numbers… ANY TIME I’m buying something from anyone just the slightest bit shady , I use it. You specify a dollar limit and the expiration date and Citiibank’s website gives you a virtual credit card number just for this use . When my Sirius trial was almost over…i sent a USPS letter stating I did not want to renew and that i have a disability preventing me from using the telephone and if the radio stays activated past my expiration date, I consider it a free gift. I know they say you must call in but legally once you put it in writing .they have no case anymore by law.
    Just cause they say something doesn’t make it legal…

    • PS Bank of America offers something similar called shopsafe but not as good as citibank virtual numbers. BOA doesn’t get the point that you kniw they are going to try to charge the card a second time and you want it to be declined. .. boa calls to check with you.etc. citibank has it down and is savvy to why you are using it in the first place.

  14. The problem is the sliding pricing scale . . .Some of us only use a few channels and if we’re not on the computer we’re in the car…why should I pay extra for this? I can easily register one mobile unit and transfer it from car to office to backyard to garage to pool….etc. ONE account …access anywhere to devices registered to ME.

    I can have ONE cell phone. . ONE account and have FOUR numbers sharing ONE plan.

    Not to mention…mostly every XM channel REPEATS EVERYTHING several times a day! I’m willing to pay $10/month for me to use all my devices! My computer! My phone! My cars!

    This, however, is not the way they work.

    I for one am fine without it.

    You don’t miss what you don’t think about! LET IT GO. . .

  15. remember america online sounds like the same scam

  16. OMG people! When you purchase the plans aren’t you listening to them when they tell you “your plan will automatically renew” and they also give you the number to cancel at any time! Quit crying around, makes me sick to see that our society wants things for free. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it! If you don’t want to buy things with credit cards, be put on invoice billing! Kill another tree cause you can’t write down your auto renew date, grown adults need to be responsible and stop blaming someone’s company for your stupidity

  17. I am going to sue the whole Sirus Xm Company. I cancelled my renewal. I went to the main site page, took the number down, and called. I told them I wanted it cancelled. Now, even if my thing is cancelled. they still charge me.
    I will sue!!!

  18. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

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