For those of you who have used satellite radio, you’re probably aware of what a great service it can be. Personally, I’m a big talk radio fan and I’ve had the XM service for years. When they merged with Sirius back in July of 2008, not much changed for me. I kept my XM radio in my car, and continued listening like I always had. Recently though, I bought a new car with a Sirius factory radio in it. That’s when the trouble began.
So let me tell you a tale of probably my worst experience with customer service yet. As I said earlier, I was an XM subscriber. I loved the service and although many of the channels were great, I found myself listening mostly to the Opie and Anthony station. Now when Sirius and XM originally merged, they kept their services pretty separate. The bulk of the redundant channels were consolidated and they overlapped on the individual services, but the premium content (Opie and Anthony, Howard Stern, etc) remained on their original platforms, and were offered as additional content on the opposing platform at a cost. So if I, being and XM subscriber, wanted to listen to Howard Stern, I’d have to add the “Best of Sirius” package to my XM account. Personally, I had no interest in adding anything, I was happy with my existing service. I had a radio built in to my car, and the iPhone app for listening at work or anywhere that wasn’t my car.
Enter: my new car.
My new car had a Sirius radio built in to the dash. I said to myself, “No big deal, they’re the same company now, I’ll just add this Sirius radio yo my XM account.”
Boy was I wrong. I called XM customer service to add the radio and was immediately connected to someone on another planet after waiting 15 minutes. She informed me that there was no way she could activate a Sirius radio on an XM account, to which I said “but you’re the same company” and she said “Yes we are, you should try calling the Sirius customer help line, maybe they can do it.”
Let’s dissect that sentence:
“Yes we are (the same company), you should try calling the Sirius customer help line (why would you have two separate support lines for the same company), maybe they can do it. (If you can’t, I doubt they can).
So I called anyway, and much to my surprise, they couldn’t help me either.
I waited a few days and finally had an idea. Maybe I could ditch the radio all together and just use my iPhone as my radio. I’ll just plug it into the car when I want to listen. No big deal.
Wrong. It was a big deal. Apparently, the addition of a Premium Online account (the account used for iPhone streaming) could only be used along side an existing traditional radio account. I complained that as long as I paid for the service, why did it matter how I listened to it. The woman used some form of broken polite english that made no sense and I finally told her “Just cancel the whole damn thing.”
She then asked, and I’ll never forget this, “I’m sorry to hear you sir want to cancel your XM radio account with us, can I ask you sir why you sir wish to cancel this service account today please?”
If you had to read that sentence twice to comprehend it, just imagine listening to it in a weird accent.
I laughed and said I can’t afford it just to keep things moving. She then dragged me face first into a mountain of verbal paperwork and after about a half hour, I was free. Sadly, I was without my XM, a service that I truly did love, even if the customer hotlines were abismal.
So weeks went by and many emails from XM came and went.
“Renew now for $4.99 a month.”
“Sign up and get 5 months free!”
… and so on and so forth.
I wrote back to one, even though it was likely an automated email, and said this:
“If you people listened to my complaints rather than sending me useless coupons, I would have never left. As soon as you meet my completely reasonable demands, I’ll be happy to come back.”
Today, they finally got the point. Sirius and XM have officially completely merged and I could now get XM on my Sirius radio, or even just get a SiriusXM online account. And, as promised, I signed up again. I missed my talk radio terribly and my iPod was getting boring. I couldn’t be happier.
If you were ever interested in the service, I’d say now’s the time to go for it. The new site located at siriusxm.com is the official welcome mat for what is now a nice, neat, single company, instead of the discordant mess it once was.