XM Radio: Useful Service, Useless Customer Service

Bruin likes XM satellite radio. Well, the service. Not the customer service. The confusion and incompetence that he encountered while trying to simply get the account permissions stream radio programs online was stunning. He lost his service, was charged an erroneous $480, and put him on endless holds. Until that one magical representative showed up who fixed everything and helped XM keep Bruin as a customer.

On the 24th of December I decided to look at XM’s listen online offering. Before you can use XM to listen online you need to log into your account and set up the listen online service. I tried to log into my XM account which I have had since 2003, XM wouldn’t let me log in. I used the reset password function on their web site and the web site wouldn’t let me log in with the password they sent me. I called XM and talked to customer service reps that after transferring me around and having me wait on hold for about an hour decided that the only way to fix the log-in problem was to delete my account, which they did. Next they demanded my credit card number which I declined to give them since they already had several hundred dollars for a multi-year plan. I told them that once I could log-in, I would go online and update my credit card info. I then told them to call me once they fixed my account and not to break my account in such a way that my radios stopped working, they said they would do this, they never called me back.

At 6:15 am Christmas morning, on my way to work, the XM radio on my Honda Goldwing wouldn’t play any channel but the preview channel, all of the other channels said “updating”.

On the 26th I could log-in to the XM web site (with my original log-in and the password they had e-mailed me) and see my account. In my car, with XM, all the channels seemed to work, however my Goldwing would still only receive the preview channel and the weather service didn’t work. I called XM and they re-sent the activation signal to the radio, after a few minutes the traffic reporting system began working. No music or weather and I don’t pay for or subscribe to the traffic reports. I logged onto XM and looked at my account and while my payment history showed I have paid for three years of audio plus weather, the radio itself shows that it is only activated for “NavTraffic”. I called XM back told the representative to fix my account so it looks just like it did on 12/23 and to call me back when that was done. The representative verified that she had the correct phone number and said she would do this.

After several hours nobody had called, so I called them back and explained once again what the problem was. I told the representative what I wanted and how my radios should be set up. The representative assured me that he would take care of everything, put me on hold and never came back on the line. I hung up after about ten minutes. I called twice on the 27th and ended up with the radio on my Goldwing still not working and a $480 charge added to my account which was previously about half way through a paid up three year plan.

On the 28th I called, explained everything once again, was placed on hold so the representative could “talk to billing” and was hung up on after being on hold for ten minutes. I decided that on the next call (my 8th) I would either not hang up until both radios worked correctly and the account balance was fixed or I would cancel the account. This call was the first one that I was connected to a XM representative who was not an “overseas representative”. Within about forty minutes both of my radios were working, the erroneous $480 dollar charge was removed, my account was being refunded the balance of about half of the paid up three year plan and I had been given a credit for the next six months of service on my Goldwing. The representative explained that by refunding my previous plan and giving me a six month credit I could take my time and decide what plan I wanted.

I like my XM radio and really didn’t want to cancel it, I live in the southwest and outside the cities there isn’t much on conventional radio. One representative finally made the difference and kept me as a customer. If I hadn’t been connected to her XM would have lost me as a customer. I don’t see how XM believes that their overseas call center is providing good service to their customers.

Note to XM: the point of a customer service call center is not to drive customers away.