Letter To Sirius/XM Executives Ends Zombie Credit Card Charges

Olivia recently wrote in to share her story of success in sending an executive e-mail carpet bomb to Sirius/XM Sattelite Radio. She writes that the company has been billing her credit card for $44.79 every three months since the middle of 2008, even though her original subscription came from a gift card, and she never authorized payments from her credit card. Should she have noticed this? Yes. Should Sirius have billed her when she made it clear that they were not to charge her? Uh, no.

Here’s Olivia’s tale of triumph:

I thought I’d let you guys know about the success I had in using your EECB with Sirius Radio. I recently found out that my account was still active and charging me even though I had cancelled it. I sent everyone in the list on your website an email stating the following:

Sirius Radio

Re: Account #XXXX

In January 2008, I started a 3 month trial of Sirius Radio. I had been given the radio as a Christmas gift and given a 50$ gift certificate to cover the initial 3 months of play. When I registered the gift card, I was unable to complete the registration without providing my credit card information. I did so and made sure the account was set up to not automatically autobill me.

After my initial 3 month period, I cancelled the account. I have recently discovered that this account has been active without my approval and charging my card every three months for 44.79. I spoke with XXXX (Badge #XXXX) at the customer service call line and re-cancelled the account and have been told that I will be credited the 44.79 for the most recent charge. However, he was not authorized to credit me for more than that and suggested that I contact Sirius through email.

I cancelled this account 3 years ago in 2008. I have not even owned the car or Sirius radio attached to it since 2009. I would like to be refunded for more than 44.79. When I received the radio and gift card, I was skeptical about signing up and turning in my credit card because I was worried that this would happen. The giftgiver, my father, assured me that he had Sirius and that it was a great and reputable company and that I could cancel at the end of the 3 months with no problem. My father continues to use Sirius to this day and often purchases radios and gift cards for employees and friends as gifts.

I will look for a timely response and a rectification of years of charging for a cancelled account. My father has asked to know about how this is dealt with as well as he is considering cancelling his and all of his employees accounts as well. I found your email through consumerist.com and plan on updating them with how this is rectified as well. I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you before the end of August when I will contact the Better Business Bureau.

Sincerely,

Olivia

I received multiple responses within the hour. I was contacted by someone at Corporate Customer Service who was able to refund me 2 additional payments. The rest I am going to chalk up to life experience in that I should have realized I was being charged a long time ago.

My thanks go out to Consumerist for teaching me about EECB and for giving me the contact information for the executives at Sirius.

Yay, Olivia! It’s not perfect, but that extra $89.58 will surely be useful for something.

Comments

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  1. DanKelley98 says:

    Sirius/XM should step up and refund all the money they took without authorization. “I’m sorry, but our company policy is not to refund money we shouldn’t have taken” is total bs.

    I can only hope that the growth of mobile broadband streaming do these guys in…

    • SerenityDan says:

      At some point it becomes her own fault, which she admits. I think even if you did not authorize it at first after more than a year of not complaining about the charges that consent becomes implied.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        I agree – but with a caveat. Since she was billed only every three months, not every month, it’s very possible that she scrutinizes her bills sometimes, just not every month.

        I admit I do this. After years of carefully making sure there no unauthorized charges on my bill every month, and never finding a single one, I’ve gotten a little lazy and only check that closely once in a while. I still look closly at charges over $100, but it’s possible I might miss a small charge most months. I guess I’d better get back to checking closely every month.

    • peebozi says:

      The OP could always sign up with another satellite radio com…pan…nevermind.

      I mean, this is the free market working at its best! A company has access to your card and should be able to bill it until you notify them that you never authorized it, you didn’t use their service and then hope to receive a 30% reimbursement.

      Life lessons are a HUGE profit center for publicly traded corporations. This goes along with the other obligations towards ethics and morals.

  2. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    One of the perks of using a BOA credit card is the ability to generate a new card number with defined credit limits and expiration dates to avoid issues like this. I’m very wary of giving up my credit card number when I’m only trying a service — it seems like many business models revolve around automatic payments and difficult procedures to cancel service.

    I also thinks it is important to reconcile bank and credit card statements each month to identify and resolve problems as soon as possible after the unauthorized charge occurs. I have a coworker who canceled Tivo but didn’t notice the ~$8 monthly charges, which were billed to his credit card every month for two years. This probably would have been an easy fix if he noticed the charge two years ago but now he’s fighting Tivo for two years worth of payments and of course, they have no record of his call to cancel.

  3. Bob Lu says:

    It is what banks do. They wrongfully took your money, YOU have to report it within a certain time or it is done for.

    Sadly same rule never apply for consumers. If a bank or company made any mistake on your advantage, they can take it back whenever they want, even it happened years ago.

    • JJJJust says:

      That’s not necessarily true, my BofA Deposit Agreement states:

      “When we receive your deposits, we may provisionally credit your account for the amount declared on the deposit slip, subject to later verification by us. You must ensure that the amount declared on the deposit slip is correct even if you did not prepare the deposit slip. If later we determine that the amounts declared on the deposit slip are incorrect, we may adjust (debit or credit) your account. We report adjustments on your account statement. However, if the error in completing the deposit slip was inadvertent and is less than our standard adjustment amount, we will not adjust the deposit unless you notify us of the error within one year of the date of your periodic statement that shows the deposit. After this notice period has passed without your bringing an error to our attention, the deposit amount indicated on the statement will be considered finally settled. That is, if the actual amount deposited was less than the amount declared on the deposit slip, the difference will become your property and if the actual amount deposited was more than the amount declared on the deposit slip, the difference will become our property.”

      So in a very limited case, I can say “no takebacks! :-p”

  4. RosevilleWgn says:

    Why do people still throw out the BBB threat? That entity doesn’t actually *do* anything, other then lodge the complaint and make it publicly visable.

    • PhiTauBill says:

      I agree that the complaint doesn’t get resolved through BBB, but there are some companies that actually care about the rating they receive from BBB which is affected, in part, by complaint history.

    • PLATTWORX says:

      I disagree.

      I hear you when you say the BBB can’t do anything.

      However, I have had to file a BBB complaint perhaps a half dozen times over the years when a company refuses to work with me. EVERY TIME, the company has caved when the BBB gets the complaint and sends it to them. For some reason I have found companies jump when the BBB gets ahold of them. Its a very powerful tool in my experience.

  5. provolone says:

    Sirius did the same thing to me. I paid for one year, definitely did not authorize further payments, but they started automatically charging me on a yearly basis. Must be a habit of theirs.

  6. Destron says:

    Anytime you sign up for something like that it’s standard practice to continue to bill you past the free trial, that’s part of the reason they want your CC info. It’s your responsibility to call them up and cancel after the trial is over.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      The OP did cancel. They continued to bill her.

      This is why I never sign up for anything “free” that requires my credit card number. They always autobill you and it’s always a pain in the ass to cancel.

      Best to just avoid it.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        Anytime you get something “free” as long as you provide your CC number is flat and out a scam. I do the same; if they want my CC for something “free” I skip them. They always hide the fact that you will get billed after the free period.

    • peebozi says:

      reading comprehension fail? YES!!

      • Destron says:

        Nope I read it just fine, and it doesn’t add up, I guarantee she didn’t cancel.

        She also said she set the account up not to autobill, and she had a $50 certificate to cover the first 3 months… at $44.79 a month?

        • Destron says:

          Hell I would like to know WHAT they were billing here for, she only had 1 radio and the most expensive plan is $17 a month.

          • kennedar says:

            “charging my card every three months for 44.79″ from the letter. That works out to a total of $14.93 a month.

  7. tange1 says:

    Olivia – What number did Sirius/XM contact you at? I can’t seem to find a valid Corporate Customer Service phone number that doesn’t put you in the normal support queues.

  8. ChuckECheese says:

    It was the difficulty in getting XM to cancel my membership that convinced me I did the right thing in canceling. I contacted my bank the day I canceled, and let them know I didn’t authorize any further charges. Of course XM tried to charge me, and the bank reversed the charge. This got me a call from XM, complaining that they weren’t able to charge my card. I was pretty loud and obnoxious and relentless about telling them the charge was reversed because I had already canceled service, contacted them, and contacted the bank. XM claimed they didn’t have “proof” of my cancellation, even though at the time they only did cancellations over the phone.

    Personally, I don’t care if it was 10 years, I don’t see how theft of the OP’s money via credit card is justified just because she didn’t catch it and do something about it — after she already had done something about it by canceling. This is a perfect example of how consumers and citizens get the bad end of the stick and don’t get to play by the same rules as businesses.

  9. AllanG54 says:

    Just another example of people having so much money that it never occurs to them to look over their bills, they just pay them. I guess Sirius figured that Olivia wouldn’t care about the other money since she faithfully paid them and didn’t care about the $45 that was being charged every three months.

  10. Dallas_shopper says:

    Personally I would settle for nothing less than a full refund.

  11. ATXag says:

    Siruis/XM is one of the worst companies I have ever dealt with. I had something similar happen to me a few years back when I tried to cancel. First it took an act of Congress to actually get them to cancel my account. I was offered every “deal” they could muster up. It’s obvious the service isn’t worth what they charge if they can constantly offer these deals. Then I made sure to ask them to not charge my credit card and they assured me the automatic renewal would not happen. Well of course a few weeks later when it came time for my account to auto-renew there was the $80 charge. It took at least 3 or 4 calls to customer service to get them to remove the charge. They kept saying they had it removed but when I would call back they acted like they had no record of the charge reversal. I finally spoke with a supervisor and demanded that they take that charge off and made her assure me that my account was indeed canceled for good.

  12. GeorgeO says:

    New Federal Law – If I can sign up online without a phone call, then I MUST BE ABLE TO CANCEL ONLINE WITHOUT HUMAN INTERVENTION!!!!!!!!!!

    Netflix is the perfect example of a company who does it right. Sign up, vacation hold, cancel, downgrade…all online, no phone call required.

    Tivo, Sirius.XM, DirecTV, 24 Hour Fitness, etc can all burn in hell!

  13. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Stories like this are so common, I wonder if it would be a good SOP that whenever you cancel a service, you send a registered letter verifying cancellation, as well as who you spoke with and the date/time.

    I discovered long ago that it’s a good idea to absolutely always write down the confirmation code, date and time, and the name/ID of the CSR for any kind of important correspondence over the phone. And for very important things (collection agencies, loan holders, etc.) registered mail works the best.

    • peebozi says:

      yes, in a free market, the onus should be placed on the one with less assets and less salaried liars, er lawyers, on staff. this is econ 101, or something.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        There’s that but in the end, it’s good to have some kind of evidence or confirmation of a request. Having a basic log of correspondence always helps — “I spoke with Sarah at 4:00pm on Jan 3, 2008 who said X” is always better than “I called two years ago”.

  14. HogwartsProfessor says:

    What did it was the threat of her father canceling all his accounts. That is a lot of money they’d be losing. No wonder she got such a quick response.

  15. phed99 says:

    two years ago i bought a sirius unit from my boss. he had called and canceled it and they never turned it off. i said to him are you sure they’re not charging you for it? he assured me that they had.
    he kept getting calls from them and he said told them that they canceled it. they kept telling him that they had no record but they would take care of it. he finally told his secretary to stop giving the calls to him and tell him that he canceled.
    last month he sent me a text asking if they turned it off. he bought a second subscription and unit for his wife and canceled it after he canceled his. they finally turned his wife’s off (about a year after cancelation). me? i still happily listen every day and only paid him $20 for the unit.

  16. NotEd says:

    I just canceled my Sirius account last months after I went from a promotional $30 for 5 month plan rententions offered to an auto-bill for almost $90 with no notification.
    I noticed and since I hardly use the radio anymore (preferring to listen to NPR or MP3s) I called and canceled. I was told I would get a prorated ammount returned to my card. of 74 and change.
    I check the following week and found no refund and another $44+ charge to my card. So I called back.
    First I complained about the lack of refund (still processing I was told). When I complained about the additional charge the CSR was stumped. They asked me if I had another account. I explained that if I did they should know and they could check under the radio in their system. Eventually they found a second account tied to my home phone (the cancelled account was tied to my cell number). He canceled and said that the other fee would be refunded to my card.
    Last weeknd I checked and there were 3 seperate credits to my card, none of them quite matching the ammounts given to me.
    And the best thing is my cellphone has been getting multiple 800 number calls without messages left that an online search identifies as Sirius retentions. Wonder if I answer one if I can charge them back for my cell minutes?

  17. sfldan says:

    Sirius had done this to me repeatedly. The worst part is, that if you don’t want your card charged automatically, they charge a fee to send an invoice. They charge you the invoice fee, but then auto charge your credit too. The last straw was a couple of months ago when they did it again. Every time I tried to call, I would hold for 15 minutes and eventually give up. Finally I called Bank of America who was able to get through to a real person. Bank of America (hope you’re sitting down) was very helpful in getting the matter resolved (although Sirius still insisted that I had authorized them to charge the card, which I had not). I’ve since cancelled Sirius and gone back to good old FM. Considering getting an HD radio or something that will let me listen to Pandora from my phone. Free and better!

    In my opinion, the cost of sending an invoice, be it email or postal, is just a cost of doing business and it shouldn’t be an extra that you are charged for.

    • sfldan says:

      And another trick they like to pull. If you call to make a one-time credit card payment (and you make it very clear that it is a one-time payment), they will take that card and begin automatically billing it too. Just another something to watch out for.

  18. namcam says:

    XM was not too bad until the merger. worst customer service ever. i shut off a radio because i replaced it. i got calls (sometimes 4-5 times a day) asking to reactivate. finally my wife game them the business on the phone, they have not called back!

  19. imsnowbear says:

    Sirius/XM customer service is absolutely incompetent. I had two radios on one account. The secondary radio was at the reduced “Family Plan” rate. I had an absolutely hideous time trying to reach the “cancellation desk” or whatever they called it. Told them that I wanted to cancel the primary radio, but continue the secondary one. I assumed this would be now billed at the primary rate. Because of my experience with their CS I wrote a letter to the highest level executives I could find via Yahoo Finance reiterating my instructions. I received a letter and an email in due course assuring me that my request had been carried out. Naturally, they continue to bill my only radio at the reduced rate. Because of my unpleasant experience with CS I haven’t even thought of telling them about this.

  20. EdK says:

    EECB didn’t work for me with XM, but a big chargeback took care of it and they didn’t fight me on it.

    Also, your list from April was already stale and several of those people don’t work there any more.

  21. stlbud says:

    So, she got half of the money they stole from her back. Wuptyfreekindo! It’s still fraud and she should have gotten everything back with interest! I’d still complain to her state’s attorney generals office about the fraudulent charges.

  22. bumblefoot2004 says:

    I wouldn’t accept the $89.58; I would demand that every penny be refunded.

    • PLATTWORX says:

      She can’t.

      60 days after a charge is on a credit card statement, you loose all legally ability to chargeback. She has no rights to anything older than that. This is why it is so vital to check your statements IMMEDIATELY.

      She has no legal right to “refuse” their offer at this point. Demand every penny? How? What will she do when they refuse? There is no teeth to that demand and they know it.

  23. PLATTWORX says:

    “Should she have noticed this? Yes.”

    Yes, I would be so mortified if I did not spot a number of unauthorized credit card charges over more than a year I could not bring myself to send something like that to the Consumerist. I guess others think there is nothing wrong with not reading your bills immediately.

    Glad Sirius/XM helped her.