Daily Archives: June 19, 2009

Goodbye, XM Radio


Life is all about choices. Wise choices are especially relevant in these tough economic times. The people at Sirius-XM don’t seem to understand that.

I subscribed to XM Radio years ago for $12.95 a month. The music was good and varied and I could listen to it at home, in my car and on my XM boombox. All that hardware only cost $80 so I figured the monthly fee was reasonable.

Recently, however, I noticed that the XM DJs seemed to be talking a lot more between songs. The sole purpose of a DJ, I thought, was to tell you the name of the song and the artist. This was redundant on XM Radio because the song and artist are listed right there on the unit.  They got more and more annoying, pushing me towards channels I had no intention of ever listening to.

What pushed me over the edge and made me choose to cancel my XM subscription was an email I got yesterday. XM was “passing along” a $1.98/month U.S. Music Royalty Fee to me. The ridiculous thing was they they went out of their way to insist it was not a price increase. I would be paying $14.93/month for XM but there was no price increase involved. Absolutely absurd!

I have an iPhone and apps for Pandora and AOL Radio. Wait a minute … that’s free Internet Radio anywhere I go. Just listen. Or plug in earphones and listen. Or dock it and listen through my Sony amp and Bose 901 speakers. Free. No cost.

In the end, it wasn’t a difficult choice. But that didn’t mean unsubscribing from XM would be easy. While you can subscribe and add radios over the web, you cannot cancel there. You have to talk to a live person. The reason for this was made clear after waiting 25 minutes for my turn in the queue.

Ben, my customer care rep, listened carefully to my request to cancel. Then he put me on hold for a couple minutes. He asked me why I wanted to cancel. I told him the subscription price increase (yes, I was baiting him) upset me. He put me on hold for a couple minutes. When he returned, he explained that it wasn’t, in fact, a price increase but rather a U.S. Music Royalty Fee. “That’s just PR BS,” I answered. “XM used to cost me $12.95 a month. Now it cost $14.93. That’s an price increase in any language except PR.”

Ben put me on hold again. When he returned on line he had a special offer for me. Three months of XM free. I said no, thanks.

Ben put me on hold again. When he returned on line he had a very special offer for me. Seven months of XM free. I said no, this time without the politeness.

I wonder how many more Sirius-XM Radio subscribers will choose to cancel out because of the company’s ridiculous decision to increase prices at a time when consumers are looking for ways to cut back.

Now there’s a choice: spend $14.93 a month on subscription radio or spend nothing for Internet radio. Not a very difficult decision, is it.