When 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.