Why Sirius Satellite Radios Auto Renew/Cancellation Policy Is Bad

Sirius Satellite Radio PolicyWhen people sign up for a service like satellite radio they sign up for a certain time period such as a year or year and a half. At the end of the time period it is supposed to shut off, not keep on going while Sirius continues to bill.

When you sign up for Sirius they send you a welcome letter stating the terms of the service. Nobody reads them because the sales staff informs you that you are paying for the set time period and that’s it. No where in the sales presentation do they say about auto renewing.

The welcome letter is more of a formality then stating the obvious. We know what we bought, how much we paid, and for how long. Why would we need to read the pack if everything was stated to us in the first place?

Most people who are introduced to satellite radio services are done so when they lease a car. Ford has an agreement with Sirius that the first 6 months of the lease include it for free. At the end of that time period you can either continue it by paying or let it turn off. Since you did not agree to something with Sirius it automatically gets shut off the day you hit 6 months of having the car. The agreement is between Ford and Sirius, not you.

During those 6 months you get use to having uninterrupted music and hundreds of choices. You end up liking it so much that you see no need to bring cd’s or your iPod on road trips anymore. The $10 a month does not seem like that much and since you can play it on your computer at home you ante up the money and either pay for it in whole for the rest of your lease or by month.

When it is time to turn in your car lease you will start getting notices on you radio saying it is time to renew the subscription and it even shows the phone # on it. You can either call and pay or do nothing as you are turning the car in and getting something else assuming that when you turn it in everything is all squared because you paid for it in full.

Sirius has the policy that if you do not call in to cancel they have the right to continue billing your credit card that is on file. If there is no credit card then they start sending you bills. You will get a bill in the mail saying you owe money now with a late fee on it.

If you do not pay the first bill, Sirius writes off the debt and sends it to a collection company. Of course you will be confused as I was to hear a call from a collection agency as I keep excellent record of my finances. I was informed that I owed $31 to Sirius for not paying my last two bills which I should not have had in the first place as the service was shut off and the car was turned in.

A quick phone call (45 minutes on hold) to the customer service center (which I think is in the Bahamas) should get to the bottom of this. What they tell you is that the terms of the welcome pack said they were going to keep billing but since there was no credit card on file they kept accruing a balance.

Bills were sent but were thrown out because why would they keep billing as my year and a half I paid ahead of time for was up? There was nothing they could do now as the debt was sold. Yup, a $31 bill being sent to collections to ding up my credit report.

In the end it made sense to pay the $31 for a service I never used as it was not worth my time to fight it and let it jack up my credit report. But who is the loser here? Is it me? The consumer who thought everything was explained to and did his part but never read about a policy where he had to call in to cancel (I never received a call asking if I wanted to re-new)?

Or is it Sirius? The company who provided a outstanding service. One so good that it became normal to skip the local radio stations and go right to the satellite stations and then listen to at home on my computer. The loser is Sirius.

The policy should be that there is no auto-renew policy. If you pay in advance then at the end of your contract the service gets shut off. This way when the person goes to turn it on and hears nothing they know that they need to call in to renew.

Sirius can flip a on/off switch at anytime. By continuing to bill and then sending it to collections (w/o a phone call) will mess up a credit report. Even worse is that its over $31. Sirius could get rid of all the employees (saving $$$ on salaries) who work at that call center.

Even the manager I talked to (Joshua) agreed that it is a bad policy. I asked him how many times a day they get a call like mine and he said “too many.” Unfortunately I can never go back to Sirius Satellite Radio again. Not because of the product or the service, but because of a bad policy and a lack of communication on their part.

About the Author: Brad Gibala

Shreds Gnar. Hall & Oates Fan. Practicing Libertarian. Beachbody Coach. Detroit-ish. Contact - Start Here - About - Recommends


  1. wow. Spot on.

    I had the service, let it lapse mainly cause I changed credit cards and cancelled my card I initially used when signing up. Long story short, I get the call from NCO Collections one day saying I owe Sirius $25 and how am I going to pay during that phone call.

    I tell the lady I owe NOTHING to Sirius and use a few choice words to illustrate my displeasure with getting a collection call. I then log into my account to see there was a $25 late fee that states as a write off. I call Sirus and after speaking with a NO help representative, ask for a Manager. Same story, the amount has been turned to collections and there is NOTHING they can do.

    Bottom line. I will NEVER use Sirius again and will tell any and everyone I can about my experience which seems to be a very common practice at Sirius. There are many stories when you Google this.

    TERRIBLE business practice. DO NOT GET HOOKED UP WITH THIS COMPANY. Consider yourself warned.

  2. this is why XM and Sirius wont survive. Poorly run, poorly managed. they missed their pitch and wont get another one.

  3. Just happened to me today. What shysters. They tried and and succeeded throwing a fast ball by me. And they didn’t credit back any $ either. Total scam.

  4. Let me get this straight. You don’t read the T’s & C’s, or you forget what you’ve read, and somehow it’s Sirius’ fault? Life is going to continue to be hard for you.

  5. The contract was for 18 months. So in 18 months its over. I will admit that I did not read the T & C’s? It was explained to me that the service would end in 18 months and if I wanted to extend I would have to call in. Does this make me an idiot? No. I put trust in a company to honor what they told me. They ended the relationship on a sour note. Their contract ended up being like signing a lease on a apartment with an agreed end date but at the end of it the landlord keeps on billing you.

    I am giving some feedback for Sirius. They could eliminate over half of their customer service department from this issue alone. The manager admitted it to me.

    Life being hard? Come on, really? We’re talking about a $10 a month service. If I ever get satellite radio again I will now ask if they have a policy like this. This was the first contract I had ever signed that had a end date that never ended.

  6. Michael Thompson-

    Really? Do you work for Sirius? That’s the only reason I can see you making a comment like that. Have you read the T&C’s for your credit card lately in it’s entirety? Your cable service? I doubt it. They are small print, hard to understand, and frankly people that do have a life don’t have time to read it. If you do, congrats. Life might be hard for you having to find time to get a life.

    When promised a service with rates and terms by a salesperson creating an oral contract over the phone, one expects that contract to be what is stated. Without giving my specific consent to autorenew, that is an amendment to the oral contract that I agreed to on the phone. Further, I never signed anything agreeing to that change in my original agreement with the company.

    Finally, it’s just bad business aside from what I would contend to be a legal contract problem. And no, I am not a lawyer, just someone that is having a “hard” time at life….at least when it comes to a very poorly operated Sirius Satellite Radio. It may be $28 they want from me right now, but it will be the entire company’s demise when it is all said and done. Wait and see….

  7. This is a total on going scam. Happened to me to day. I hope Ford does not do this with thier extended warranties. Very rude unfair practices.

  8. For those of you who are defending sirius, here is my story –
    Bought the new ford in spring 2010.
    Came with 6 months worth of free sirius. Loved the car & radio. 6 months expired. Radio fell silent. (ok, i get it, no problem)
    Called sirius, got the best deal I could with the person on the phone. (another 6 months “Special” at substantially lower rate than the yearly rate. He even agreed THAT didn’t make sense)
    But Cool! Today my first paid 6 months are about to expire. Got a letter telling me I was signed up to auto renew. (2 yrs for $301.32 will be charged to my credit card next month).
    WOW – not sure I really want that all at once. OK off to the sirius web site to manage my account (its all on the letter I got… ez!)
    OMG – this is just like XBOX auto renewal… you MUST call in (1 hour on hold… literally) and beg them to not extend the contract. Agree with all the comments above about this being a bad business practice. In the long term hiding behind the fine print and telling customers they are screwed does not seem to be a winning strategy. The irony is the product is worth the cost (I don’t see anyone complaining that the content or the reception is bad).

    If someone can tell me how (on the sirius web site as of May 2011) do you cancel auto renew, I will sincerely apologize. Otherwise, at the very least this is POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE.

    For now, it looks like I will be making that call. To those who posted to reveal Sirius evil practices, thanks for your sacrifice.
    I will not get “auto burned”

  9. Follow up to my May 14th post. I have had several (email & phone) conversations with Sirius.
    Final result = when you sign up, you automatically get “Auto Renew” as a PERMANENT “FEATURE” of EVERYONE’s service.
    Not on the web page (don’t bother looking!)
    AND not by talking directly to them on the phone. (Period!).

    Pay attention to the end date of your contract and Cancel your subscription BEFORE the magic “GOTCHA! SUCKER!!!” date happens.

    Trust me, they know damn well how angry this makes a lot of customers, but they must
    A- Not care or
    B – Be making a lot of $$ through their collection agency.

    Oh… And Have a Nice Day.

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