Customers say XM didn’t let them go without a fight


The Washington Times reports former XM Satellite Radio customers say the D.C. company has made it difficult to cancel their radio subscriptions. The story says XM estimates that about 5,000 subscribers canceled their subscriptions in protest of the decision to suspend Opie & Anthony after they aired a nasty segment recently on rape talk re: Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush. But canceling wasn't easy. Nearly a dozen of those interviewed said they encountered hang-ups, arguments from XM reps and unsolicited promotions when they tried to cancel their service.

Excerpts from the story:

"Former subscriber Bill Platt placed his first call May 15, the day XM announced its suspension of the shock jocks, and was told that his radio subscriptions were canceled. The next day, he called to verify the cancellations and was told they were set to cancel May 27. "I asked them, 'Can you please make this effective immediately?' " he said. "They agreed."Mr. Platt, a Woodbury, N.J., resident, is one of several former subscribers who posted recordings of his calls on YouTube. On May 17, he was told that the radios were still active and was eventually disconnected. The next day, a representative told him that his subscriptions were not canceled, but rather suspended.

He asked: "Are they, like, canceled – deactivated immediately – or are they suspended?"

"It's just only suspended," a representative responded after a pause. The representative then asked Mr. Platt whether he wished to suspend his account for a month, to which he replied, no. Then, the representative said the records revealed that it was canceled after all.

Mr. Platt's nine-minute call has been viewed more than 38,000 times on YouTube. Videos posted by other users, such as "How to properly cancel XM after they canned Opie and Anthony," or "I cancel my XM account" chronicle similar hardships.

Other customers who tried to cancel their service in response to the company's handling of the shock jocks describe experiences similar to Mr. Platt's.

"It took more than two weeks, five phone calls, numerous e-mails … and ultimately a formal complaint to our state attorney general to have our subscriptions canceled as requested," said Susan Santory, a Redding, Conn., resident who shared five XM radio subscriptions with her fiance."

XM spokesman Chance Patterson told the paper XM radios must be turned on to be activated or deactivated and suggested that subscribers whose radios continued to work may not have followed deactivation instructions properly. The process involves the company's satellites sending a signal to the individual radio, he said, and takes a matter of minutes.

"If somebody wants to cancel, they can cancel," he said. "I don't know of any incident [in which a person has had a problem canceling their service]. That doesn't make sense."

Patterson also told The Times said a person could cancel their subscription through the website.

SmartMedia observation: Reminds us of the trouble AOL subscribers used to have to go through when canceling during the mad rush to broadband. When it comes to customer service, these days it pays to be good at it, as the internet can be used as a massive retaliation weapon. XM got spanked on this one. Too much pressure on customer reps to talk them out of dropping service and talk them into adding more often backfires. Perhaps XM read the tea leaves wrong on suspending O&A, but if they hadn't, we wonder what kind of boycotts from women's groups they'd be experiencing right now. Can you say "Rock and a Hard Place?"