XM Satellite Radio Complaint - Misrepresentation of service & billings issues after prepayment.
RANCHO CORDOVA, CALIFORNIA -- I felt it was my responsibility to bring to your attention the following incident.
I purchased a new Chevy HHR with optional XM Radio Satellite equipment which I took delivery of November 29, 2005. Purchase of the optional installed satellite radio equipment included three months 'free' preview of their services. Near the end of the preview, February 29, 2006, (the dealership said the three months preview begins one day after delivery of your automobile, which would have been Nov. 30, 2005), I elected to continue the service. I used the preprinted purchase form that was provided by XM radio and purchased the two year package for $271.00. I paid in advance utilizing a cashiers check drawn from American General Finance dated February 21, 2006 and mailed February 23. The funds were verified as paid and cleared by American General Finance as well as XM Radio. The service was activated by telephone and delivered without issue until the first week of August 2006. Prior to interruption of service, I received a telephone voice message from a management representative from XM Radio stating the following:
It is very important that you contact us regarding the processing of your credit card, (note: I PAID IN ADVANCE, WITH A CASHIERS CHECK). He stated that in the attempt to process my credit card payment, there was a problem and therefore needed to update the credit card information. Barring legitimate charging information or receipt of additional funds, service would have to be discontinued. Also, if I did not wish to continue service in the second vehicle, they needed me to verify which of my two radio I.D.'s in which of my two cars did I wish to apply the payment I had made in February.
The very next day, I returned the call to XM Radio and spoke to a different gentleman who expressed that he was aware of the situation. After verification of my information which included the make, model, year and radio I.D. as well as the payment method and details, the representative explained that an individual by my same name, from the state of Nebraska had activated a radio with payment from a credit card which had been denied. At this time an explanation ensued that has been repeated in countless phone conversations, to countless individuals, repeatedly and excessively, all with the same message. There is NO second car, radio, account, or address as I have but one car, at one address, and one payment transaction which was a CASHIER'S check sent prior to the three months preview and cashed accordingly. Although, this first conversation had a positive tone and outcome and after expression of much regret for my inconvenience, the "discrepancy" was cleared up.
Unfortunately, within the next week upon tuning in the radio, there was no signal. I called from my car in the parking lot of the dentist office and after more than one hour and a nearly identical exchange, I was told yet again that the radio would be reactivated, but this time no signal was ever received.
I called back again with the same outcome and have since logged countless telephone hours with XM Radio and have been told numerous versions of why this has occurred. During this telephone call and each and every communication up to January of this year, XM Radio personnel have consistently acknowledged this is and was their error.
Other than the various and ever changing scenario of the reasons and explanations given, there was consistently, one theme. That is, they very politely, logged my complaint, apologized for the inconvenience, acknowledged my payment, and 'reactivated' (in theory) my account. As each acknowledgment of their error was forthcoming, I continued to view the issue as a bookkeeping error. Also, as the assurances and apologies were reiterated, so was my continued good will. Additionally, they had my money, and I was now the owner of equipment for which without their promised positive conclusion, was virtually worthless.
It has now been seven months of an ongoing pattern of reasons or excuses. Although the particulars of how and why this was occurring seemed to vary, I was not overly concerned. After each contact they repeatedly assured me that the problem had been resolved, but then ultimately failed to renew my service or appropriately append the ongoing monthly bill. My calls have been regular since August every two to three weeks, which represents each time I drove my car and found I had no service.
During the last 30 days, the bill reflected removal of the radio I.D. for the supposed, second radio activation but the charge for my I.D. remains, even though I was reassured that 'their' mistake was rectified back in August, and many times since. The primary particulars of each message and each reassurance has been repeated to me by various personal at Customer Service, Supervisors, Billing Unit Personal, and recently the “Special Investigative Billing Unit” over and over again. During this time, I have continually been billed, in various representations for an amount approximately equal to one year of service. This past November, however, a bill arrived which then showed that I now owed more than $400.00. I have been given several versions of the reasoning for this occurrence with nearly each explanation containing some type of discrepancy to the previous.
Given the most recent communication in the latter part of January, it began to appear clear that during the previous six months, (the last six months of the first year of the two years of prepaid service), even though a reactivation signal was promised and/or sent during each communication, the details given by XM Radio currently reflect a 180 degree position. In each call in which a reactivation occurred while I was on hold, transferred, and the problem ultimately resolved, what I am being told now seems to indicate that a reactivation actually NEVER happened as it was not intended. This recent revelation occurred subsequent to my finally asking what they intended to do about my having paid for services not rendered. I was told that they don't back date subscription services and nothing could be done. Additionally, I was finally offered an explanation for the increased billing for the month of November which exceeded $400.00. I was told that because my first year of service was now over, (which actually, could not be so even if I had not prepaid as I had not even purchased the vehicle as of yet). THEY HAD RENEWED THE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE FOR ANOTHER YEAR!
On January 19, I began calling at 7:00 a.m., to reenact the entire exchange once again, this time utilizing my hand held voice recorder which I explained I would be using. At this point, which was now approximately 2:00p.m. that afternoon, (that day I started at 7:00 a.m.), I was forwarded to the "Special Billing Unit" and was told in no uncertain terms that if I wanted my service cut off, I would have to be forwarded to the 'Service Cut Off Unit'. Now somewhat speechless, I asked, if I were to assume that this many months of calls were on the screen in front of the customer service person, Ashley, from the "Special Billing Unit Investigation Team", did it make any sense that I had been calling approximately every two weeks for over six months, because the service wouldn't STOP? After hanging on from early that morning until after 2:30 p.m., I was promptly hung up on.
It seems, that the hours upon hours of redundant calls and conversations has accomplished little but to eat up the better part of one year of my prepaid service. During the entire time, they never once questioned my payment, asked me to send the check or indicated that any proof on my part was required. (and Yes, I have it) Prior to that and until now, they said nothing to raise questions as to their true intentions in handling my account.
The next day I called again and was told by 'Justin' that the service was discontinued because my check had been applied to the wrong 'car', a 2005 Buick, which he explained was now and had always been here in California. (The billing lady said it was because my money went to the wrong 'package'.) Furthermore, for the first time I was told by XM Radio, (Justin), that two hundred and some odd dollars was refunded to someone at my address back in March 2006. He then confirmed the mailing address. Two problems here, the finance company for which the cashiers check was drawn did not clear the bank until May, which means that they are now stating that they refunded the money before actually being paid, per American General Finance. If then, one did send a check SEVEN months ago to someone by my name at the street address given, which IS incidently my street address, but NOT my mailing address, why didn't anyone give this reasoning prior to six to seven months and counting. Obvious to me at least is the simple reasoning that if I had either the service or the service monies, my efforts would be served elsewhere. (Especially, that I am disabled and cannot be up or mobile for extended periods makes this an expensive endeavor of a personal nature.)
At this point, in my next to last XM Radio conversation on I told Justin that I had become blatantly aware that I would not be seeing a refund for the year of service at best and a single penny of the two years I paid in advance, at worst. So I said, and repeated twice for clarification, that although I was recently told the service had been renewed for another year back in November, (not withstanding, I didn't have my new car one year as of yet), if nothing else, PLEASE log this call as follows: When the real renewal date for year two arrives, which is January 29, I do not want a second year. If I had known what has become apparent to me, I would not have purchased the first year or the equipment to begin with.
My new Chevy HHR, now has installed optional equipment, that I will never use as XM Radio requires prepayment or a credit card, my issue at prepayment being obvious. Upon research into my experience, I can only feel relief that I have not suffered the alternate pitfall which is occurring nationwide; ongoing charges to ones credit card in which a request to discontinue is courteously received; but repeatedly ignored.
In closing, my last two conversations with XM Radio bring me to this communication.
Before ending our conversation, Justin told me that he would be forwarding this issue to someone at the highest level, and I would be called back in fifteen minutes.
I did not hear back in fifteen minutes.
I did, however receive my very first contact from XM Radio the next morning and before the entire story was retold, the representative said that she did see that there was an extensive well documented account of my complaint back on December 20th. She also said, that according to her notes, she has noted that in my telephone call I had made the previous day, that I had requested that my XM Radio subscription be renewed for another year.
I am now faced with seven months of fruitless inquiries and am contacting you with this information. I hope some inquiry brings to light the numerous complaints which outline a pattern of behavior by this company and which I am just now becoming aware.
As a resolution, I would like the following:
Given my lack of trust of this company's business practices, I am hesitant to request anything less than a full refund for the two years paid in advance. Although reimbursement for the equipment as well does not seem at all unreasonable from my position, that the XM Radio receiver is integrated into the dash rather than after market and may not be removed, I would pass in the hopes of avoiding further complications and prolonging my already protracted association with XM Satellite Radio.
If the future for this company changes in terms of financial stability, customer service practice or a change to the pay in advance/credit card policy, I would reconsider their services. Absent that, I prefer to consider purchase of this equipment a valuable lesson.
Please contact me if you need more details regarding this incident, as I have sufficient documentation to support my position.
P.S. Forgive my inability to be more brief as this letter was difficult to edit. Six months of calls never less than 45 minutes to an hour approximately every two weeks over a six months period, represent the contents of this letter ten fold.