One would think that after Connecticut and six other states 18 months ago launched an investigating SiriusXM satellite radio company’s billing and consumer practices, the firm would clean up its act.
Over the past year, Attorney General spokeswoman Susan Kinsman said, her department received about 100 complaints about the company.
I have had dozens, including two I received in the past few weeks.
“Last year my subscription was to expire,” Wendy Venoit of Wallingford wrote me. “They told me they would renew me two years for $99. Sounded like a good deal, until I received a ‘renewal notice’ in July 2011 saying that to renew for another year would cost $350.”
“I immediately called and said that I had a two year subscription for which I already paid. They confirmed that this was accurate and said to ignore the renewal notice,” she said.
That did not end the story. Last September she discovered that her credit card had been billed for the $350.
” I called and was told that I never had a two-year subscription. It was only a one year subscription with an automatic renewal. I disputed this and the charge. After talking with no less than four people (and being bounced around various departments), I said to please cancel my subscription.”
She was then transferred to another department where they apologized and promised to give her two free months of service, and remove her credit information from their system.
She relented. However in January she discovered that her card information had not been removed and she was again charged, this time for $13.95.
Their explanation astounded even Venoit.
Because they had refunded her the $350, the company could not erase her credit card information. And the two month complimentary subscription? No such a thing, it was an automatic subscription renewal she was told.
Unbelievably, she was again offered a refund and a two month free subscription, which she refused. I sent her complaint to Kinsman and to Patrick Reilly, Senior Vice President, Communications SiriusXM, who in the past had corrected all the issues of customers I had sent him. He offered to continue helping customers whose valid complaints I provide him.
Reilly offered no direct response to Venoit’s issues or the second one which you can read at the end of the column.
“We attempt to comply with all federal and state consumer laws, including laws applicable to billing continuous subscriptions. Subscribers are the lifeblood of our business. We also make considerable efforts to address complaints and concerns of our subscribers,” he told me.
The other interesting complaint I received this month came from Ariana Miller from the state of Washington who had read the other complaints on www.ctwatchdog.com.
“I am so not surprised to find all of these complaints that sound so familiar. I suppose I was lucky as I actually had a theft earlier this year that necessitated a new credit card so when my renewal came up, Sirius didn’t have a valid card to charge. Instead they started to call me,” she wrote.
Even after she said she wanted to cancel her service she received as many as 10 calls a day from the company claiming they were trying to “verify my information as a routine update to their system.”
“When I informed that person of my desire to cancel, the person would become rude and basically tell me again that I could try to cancel by sitting on hold. I am now waiting for the collection letter as I am now past my renewal date and the radio is still on. Even if I LOVED the radio service, out of principal, I would never do business with these scam artists again.”
The two complaints are similar to the thousands of complaints Attorneys General in Connecticut, Arizona, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont and the District of Columbia had when they launched their joint investigation in 2010. The company disclosed, in required financial filings, that the investigation was focusing on “certain of our consumer practices. The investigation focuses on our practices relating to the cancellation of subscriptions; automatic renewal of subscriptions; charging, billing, collecting, and refunding or crediting of payments from consumers; and soliciting customers.”
The company also disclosed then that a “separate investigation into our consumer-related practices is being conducted by the Attorney General of the State of Florida. In addition, in September 2010, the Attorney General of the State of Missouri commenced an action against us regarding our telemarketing practices to residents of the State of Missouri.”
So in dealing with this company, make sure you NEVER use a debit card to make a payment, only a credit card that you can then challenge if you are charged improperly. And check you charges carefully.
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- Ct Consumer Complaint: Sirius Continues Charging For 18 months After Cancellation
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