Sirius Cancels Loyal Customer's Lifetime Subscription, Charges Him For A New One

Say you’re a satellite radio company with a loyal, even evangelical customer—someone who listens daily, who keeps buying your products for the people around him, and who steadily expands his own collection of your hardware and subscriptions. Wouldn’t that be a great guy to screw over? Sirius seems to think so.

A loyal Howard Stern fan, Marc followed Stern to Sirius in January of 2006. He bought a $500 lifetime subscription—which, like Tivo’s old “lifetime” subscriptions, refers more to the lifespan of the devices than to your own. Still, Marc quickly grew to love what Sirius has to offer, and bought additional products, each with their own monthly subscriptions. He was and is, in short, the perfect customer. And then the credit card number they had on file expired, and Sirius canceled all of his accounts at the same time.

The nice Sirius customer service agent explains that my entire account has been closed. All four service plans. But, there is Good News, because she can turn my radios back on. When I get home, I find that none of the home radios are working. I also get an email confirming a $399 purchase of another lifetime subscription. And, I can not log into my account.

Four calls and several broken promises later, after being told that “it’s very complicated” and that they’d “kick it up to Corporate,” he still keeps getting the run-around from Sirius’ customer service reps—and he’s still on his second lifetime subscription, less than two years after joining.

What surprises us most about this is how little regard Sirius has for someone who’s clearly an ideal customer: loyal, an advocate of the product, does repeat business. Why ruin that? Shouldn’t their customer management software be flashing a big red alarm at Sirius HQ right about now?

Sirius’ corporate number is 212-584-5100, and their President of Sales & Operations is James E. Meyer. We suggest you “kick this up to Corporate” on your side and stop waiting for their day-to-day reps to deal with it. Also check out our “Be a Customer Service Ninja” post on how to seek executive-level assistance when customer service falls short.

Read this if you are thinking about buying a Sirius Lifetime Subscription [Sirius Canceled My Lifetime]


Edit Your Comment

  1. pyloff says:

    Frankly I’m tempted to just call that number and bitch at them.

  2. BurbankBurt says:

    I *love* my Sirius radios, and it’s disappointing to hear about this. I’m crossing my fingers that it gets resolved properly.

  3. d0x says:

    I too have Sirius and I joined for Stern as well. Seems kind of odd he is having these troubles so maybe it is a complicated issue that normal CSR’s dont have the ability to resolve.

    My 1st radio broke about 7 months after the warranty expired. I called Sirius to shut it off until I could buy a new one and instead of saying “Ok we wont charge you for a couple months” they sent me a brand new radio and credited me for 1 free month.

    All my experience with Sirius has been good but they do have odd policies when it comes to credit cards and closing accounts. Im sure it will get resolved sooner or later. Good luck.

  4. rolla says:

    Sirius customer service sucks. Their programming content sucks. This should be another example of why NOT to join them.

  5. BurbankBurt says:

    You’ve had Sirius and you say it sucks? The programming is great, whether you like Stern or not (and I do, and I have a feeling you don’t). I love all the different music channels, NPR, CNN, the comedy channels and even the old radio shows like Jack Benny. And I like that any channel I wouldn’t want my kids to hear can be locked.

    I got radios for my dad and my brother as a gift and I pay for their subscriptions. It’s the gift that gives every day! And they love it too! And even though my sister works for a large family of regular radio stations, I would never go back to listening to regular radio!

    Again, I’m rooting for Sirius, and I’m hoping this gets resolved positively.

  6. bohemian says:

    I thought about getting the lifetime subscription but decided not to since I saw how those lifetime subscriptions worked during the .com bomb with some ISPs.

    We let our Sirius lapse last year but loved it and want to sign up again at some point. Our local radio sucks.

  7. ptkdude says:

    About a year ago, I had a somewhat similar problem with my SIRIUS subscription, and 4 different customer service reps were unable to resolve it. After ONE call to the CS executive (the position now held by Mr. Meyer), the problem was resolved AND I got a free year on my 2nd radio. It certainly helped that I had been a subscriber since Dec. 2003. While customer service is generally inept, if you push things higher you will get results.

  8. Televiper says:

    I’ve used a number of subscription services that stipulate the contract is only good if your account is in good standing. Surely a lapse in memory and getting charged on an expired credit card shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you make good within a reasonable window.

    If the OP still has the original receipt or credit card invoice from the original lifetime service purchase he should pull it out, and offer to Email, or Fax a copy to them. That might give the CSR’s enough fat to chew on.

  9. Christopher says:

    I had a problem with Sirius, too. I used to subscribe with one radio and the $4/mo internet “plus” add-on package for listening at home. I recently ran into some financial troubles, so I called Sirius to temporarily cancel my service. The rep told me everything was canceled, and all seemed well.

    A month later I checked my bank statement, and noticed that they charged me for another month. I called their customer service dept. and it turns out the first person neglected to cancel the internet portion of my service. To top it off, because I no longer had a Sirius radio on my account, the internet portion defaulted to an “internet-only rate” of $13/mo, which is the same price as having a radio by itself.

    I requested to have my services turned off immediately and to have that month refunded. The rep told me that they could only turn off my service, and that Sirius under no circumstances, would refund my money. I called my bank and they gave me the $13 bucks back. The thing is, I was going to buy myself a year’s worth of service using my year-end work bonus, but now I’ll never deal with the company again.

  10. The_Shadow says:

    A few years ago I had considered Sirius when I saw that they offered Golden Age radio on their programming. But when I looked a little closer I found they only had one channel for Golden Age radio and only around a half dozen so other channels that I would actually listen too.

    I decided it’d be a waste of my money as many Old Time Radio series I listened too could be bought in CD collections assembled by Radio Spirits [] {products availabe in bookstores too} that I could listen too whenever I wanted.

    As for the few other channels I would have listened too – I could get the same via AM & FM without buying a specialized “radio” .

  11. RottNDude says:

    I’m not paying a dime for satellite radio until they can improve the audio quality. When XM first started up, they used to advertise “CD Quality” sound…which it obviously was not, so now it’s “Digital Quality” sound, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.

    Unfortunately, the same crappy codec (by iBiquity Digital) is used for terrestrial HD radio as well.

    I would bet that sometime in the not-too-distant future, subscribers will be forced to upgrade their radios when new, more efficient codecs are used to both improve audio quality and free up bandwidth for channel expansion or other services.

  12. whitespider says:

    As someone who works on the inside for a corporate company with customers I can assure you this… underpaid and unmotivated reps don’t care. YOu are a number and the next in line. You mean nothing to the company if the company puts you in the hands of someone they picked up to answer calls and ‘deal’ with. No one will know you ever existed. I mean it.

  13. allstarecho says:

    I love my Sirius and have 4 radios on their service. I will never listen to sucky terrestrial radio again! The sound quality is as good as any FM station I’ve heard and obviously better than AM. Is AM still around?? I got tired of them playing the same crap over and over and over and over.. all the “down” bands (3 doors down, system of a down, shinedown) over and over and over and over and over.. I guess when Clear Channel owns everything in you’re market, you have to listen to it.. unless you get XM or Sirius. I got Sirius times 4! Howard Stern, all the rock/alt/punk/80’s metal I can handle and OutQ! Love love love Sirius! Suck a dick Clear Channel!

  14. d0x says:

    @RottNDude: $13 a month for 128 kbps mp3 quality music with no commercials and tons of talk stations is well worth it my friend. The music selection they play is much more varied then anything you will ever hear on FM or FM HD. Hell Id pay $13 a month just to shut FM DJ’s up

  15. skrom says:

    Of course nobody mentions that the whole situation would have been avoided had the guy just updated his credit card. This is another example of a consumer not doing what they should and then expect a company to bend over backwards for him. It states in the terms of service agreement that if you miss a payment you lose any special pricing.

  16. mrearly2 says:

    Boy! That’s some serious bullshit! I’ll stick with the old-fashioned radio. It surprises me, how so many companies can’t fix seemingly simple problems, but instead, give good customers the shaft.

  17. swalve says:

    @ptkdude: That sounds way easier than going to Target and getting a new clock radio and … turning it on.

  18. scooby2 says:

    @d0x: If you think XM or Sirius is equivalent to 128 kbps mp3, you should get your hearing checked. Subscriber to both and while I like Stern/BTLS on Sirius and the deep play lists of XM, the sound quality is quite sub par.

  19. beyond says:

    Crazy. I like Sirius but don’t think I’d get a lifetime with them.

    Once they decided not to bill me, then called 3 days after my bill was due (it was automatically billed to my card) and threatened to cancel me if I didn’t pay my bill. I had to set up my credit card again to redo the subscription. They even had my credit card on file! After the situation was resolved, the rep on the phone couldn’t explain what happened. They just decided not to bill me for some reason and then blame me for it.

    Other than that I have had no problems. We have it in both our cars.

  20. CoffeeAddict says:

    Sirius is ok as far as companies go but I would never sign up for them or XM. I think either is a incredible rip off. My heart does go out to this guy, but I would have told Sirius to screw off after what they did to him. I would most definately not sign up for another lifetime option. I mean what kind of idiot signs up for that after your screwed over the first time by the same bunch of idiots. I don’t get it. Oh well I guess suckers are born every minute.

  21. Crazytree says:

    I condemn you.

    Howard Stern condemns you.

    Bababooey to you all!

    -Elephant Boy

  22. jellycow says:

    @d0x: No way their audio is 128k. I have Sirius and I can definitely tell a difference between a well encoded 128k MP3 CBR (not even VBR!) and Sirius output. I really like some of the channels and all, but I personally think subscribing to a life-time membership of anything is little bit too much.

    I’d consider it if they had a-la-carte system of picking stations and such that I can change out. I only listen to 7-10, rest are completely useless to me.

  23. Buran says:

    I have a Sirius radio in my car and went for lifetime because I like not having monthly fees, plan to keep the car past the Sirius breakeven point, and I like NPR and a few of the other station (but not Stern). That, and it might help resale value even though I have no plans to sell the car.

    If it’s a lifetime sub … why the heck does Sirius even need to HAVE a credit card number on file?

  24. girly says:

    why is the dog peeing backwards? what a skill!

  25. BrockBrockman says:

    @skrom: I understand how not having his credit card updated might affect the services he was paying for on a monthly basis – but how should that cancel a pre-paid lifetime service plan?

    Usually companies charge credit cards in advance of the actual due date of the payment, so when they try to charge and it is rejected due to an expiration, it does not put the account instantly into arrears. I wonder if that was the case here? Was he late on payment, or was he notified of the lapsed credit card?

  26. Trai_Dep says:

    Radio? People listen to radio?!

    Well for music, these days. My playlists are 1,000x better than any corporate “DJ”s.

    Actually, most of the other stuff I listen too (NPR) is available on podcast, so again, radio?!

  27. scootinger says:

    @d0x: I disagree; I can definitely tell the difference between Sirius and a 128kbps MP3, or even FM radio sometimes. Sirius/XM are probably more equivalent to a 64-96kbps MP3.

  28. Jorgs says:

    I hope issues like this regarding Sirius must be addressed soon. My brother also bugged me about his problem. Said he was activating his Sirius Radio and the customer service rep told him to unplug wires and plug them back in. When he did this about 10 secs. later the radio began to smoke. He’s been patiently trying for the past two weeks to get through to their warranty department for a replacement due to their faulty advice. Cases like this really tests your patience.

  29. Optimistic Prime says:

    I had Sirius for about 6 months last year, and I liked it. I just don’t spend enough time in the car to warrant a subscription. Back to the article, that is bad customer service all around. They should’ve sent a notice a month or two before his card expired so he could get a new one put on his subscriptions. I’m also amazed they didn’t freeze his original account rather than kill it entirely, especially seeing how much a month he was bringing them…

  30. edrebber says:

    Most every credit card is going to have an expiration date and businesses have procedures to deal with it. Sirrius knew this guy was a chump and would pay over and over again for “lifetime” subscriptions. The customer should go back to the credit card company and charge back the original lifetime subscription fee.

  31. DeeJayQueue says:

    i would say that the quality of both services (I’ve had both XM and Sirius in different cars) is OK at best. Most of the time they sound like MP3s used to sound in the mid 90s. Juicy and artifact-licious. It’s fine for just bopping to The Hooters or Journey in your car, or even listening to Armin Van Burren’s new set live from Ibiza, or whatever. Just don’t bank on getting good quality, or at least, any better quality than you were getting from your FM radio. That’s with a direct connection, no FM modulation. Add in that most people who put SatRadio in their cars use one of those things, and all you’re getting is the same quality as the best FM radio station (not great) coupled with 64bit juicy mp3s (not great).

    That said, I DO love both of their programming, the stations and the actual music are great. I just wish they’d up the quality a bit.

    As for the OP, well, all I can say is that I can’t necessarily blame Sirius for cutting off his account after his credit card expired. On one hand you could say “Well, it’s not like they don’t have his info, they could have sent him a letter or email saying his card would expire soon” or “They should just let him reactivate it with his new card” and on the other hand you could say “Well it’s his fault that he didn’t update the information with his new card and tough noogies.”

    I’m kinda in the middle on this one. Ideally Sirius gets better CSRs and better billing systems in place, and at the same time customers get more proactive about their account information.

  32. Canadian Impostor says:

    @Buran: Apparently this guy was some sort of Sirius freak and had other radios without lifetime subscriptions.

    I have XM and I’m a little annoyed at the pricing structure. I got the XM in my car and I pay for it because I like it. I’d also like to buy a radio for at home, but I’m not sure why I have to pay the whole subscription price again to listen in my house. I can’t listen to both at the same time unless I drive my car into the living room.

    I know it’s because of portable radios or whatever, but my current radio isn’t able to be removed from my car. They should be able to differentiate radio types and allow multiple radios on one subscription if neither are are portable.

  33. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Canadian Impostor:

    FYI, you don’t have the pay the full subscription price again. One subscription is $13. Two subscriptions are $20 – an incremental $7/month.

  34. dieman says:

    Canceling sirius is completely insane too. I did it and it took threatening the CSR directly (you do this or I chargeback, you do this or I start talking to your supervisor, etc) to get them to do it. Their save bonuses must be really good.

    I went to using a rhapsody sansa, 2 sansas with service is cheaper monthly than sirus, plus I get to stream at work/home and on devices such as the sonos .

  35. Granolaheadesq says:

    I agree that cutting off all subscriptions, especially a pre-paid
    lifetime subscription, is real bullshit. But come on, read the not so
    fine print. Why would a company let you pay 4 years of premiums in
    advance for up to 70 years of service. Just like the person who got
    duped into the $700K mortgage on $14K salary, sometimes people get in
    unfortunate situations that are of their own making. Sirius doesn’t
    hide this fact or use shady sales people using two stacks of forms or
    hide it in the boiler plate legal clauses; they come out and say it
    clearly in the plan description. “Subscribe for the lifetime of your
    radio! Pay ONLY $499.99 once and forget about bills.”

  36. BurbankBurt says:

    Sansa = no Sirius = no Howard Stern! Gotta have Howard!

    Having to sit in crazy traffic, taking long road trips and sitting at my desk at work or in the hotel on the road (streaming on my computer is included in my subscription)… can’t live without my Sirius!

  37. othium says:

    @dieman: I love my Sansa! When commuting to work I have either a book on MP3 or one of my playlists loaded for the ride. On the rare occasion when I need to listen to the radio, I merely tune in to the FREE stations on it’s FM tuner.

    My monthly income only allows a few fun expenses, so sattelite radio is not an option. Cable internet gets me all the entertainment I can handle at this time. Just download it and drag and drop it onto the Sansa.

  38. marc01564 says:

    Thank you to the Consumerist for picking up my case. I am the Sirius subscriber from the piece. I found the comments and suggestions to be extremely helpful. I did call Sirius Corporate Customer Care today. They have refunded the double billing of $399. However, I am still locked out from my account. According to the gentleman I spoke with, it will be another 3 to 5 days. Taking the advise of multiple postings, I really tried for a same day solution. The problem continues to be that Sirius will cancel all accounts, even a lifetime Subscription, if you miss one monthly payment. Then, it really seems nearly impossible to have your account quickly rebuilt. I suggested that my lifetime subscription be refunded, and then I would just buy another and start a new account. That, however, he explained, would be impossible. I will post again in 3 to 5 days and let you know. Thanks again.



  39. Superbaby says:

    ED!! Is that you?!?!?! This is Superbaby!