Up until about a month ago I was a subscriber of Sirius Satellite Radio. I had Sirius installed in my car once Howard Stern joined the company and never looked back. Then I bought a new car that was XM ready, and included three free months of XM. That’s fine, I thought. Since Sirius and XM are now the same company, the content should be the same. I canceled my subscription to Sirius, explaining that I was moving to XM, and they gave me a prorated credit.

Once I tuned in to XM I quickly noticed that Howard Stern wasn’t available. As it turns out, to get Howard on XM you need a “Best of Sirius” upgrade package that includes Stern, the NFL channels, NASCAR, and a few other stations. It’s odd that XM charges extra for this content when most of the music stations are the exactly the same on XM or Sirius.

Since Stern wasn’t available with my free subscription I called up to get the “Best of Sirius” package added. Because I was on a trial, it took two tries in calling customer service before I got to hear the new stations and had been properly billed for the service.

A few days later my phone rang. It was Sirius customer service asking what it would take to get me back. They were prepared to offer me a deal substantially less than my new rate for XM plus “Best of Sirius”. I explained I got an XM ready car, and simply transitioned service over, and said goodbye.

Since then I have received two emails and another call from Sirius trying to get me back. All this in less than a month.

Further, since the merger I have found that online content once available for free no longer is. The same content I get on my receiver for an annual fee requires additional charges to listen to online. Imagine paying for cable and then paying for the right to watch it over the internet (don’t get any ideas, Comcast). Right now that service is free, and it should be. After all, I’m paying for the content, not a method of listening to the content. One fee should cover any mode.

The reason why the government put antitrust laws into place was to ensure the consumer rights are not impeded due to a lack of competition in the marketplace. When Mel Karmazin lobbied for the merger of these two companies, he promised enhanced service and economies of scale. A year later, neither of these things has happened. I’ve ended up paying much more to move over to XM, yet more cars come XM ready than Sirius ready. And there is no smooth transition from one to the other, as if you are expected to retain service and buy a new receiver for your new XM ready car. It’s almost as if they never thought a Sirius subscriber might purchase an XM ready car.

Even the economies of scale of joining the two companies has gone unmet - at a minimum sales and customer service between the two aren’t talking to each other and systems are not integrated. So what was the point of the merger? It seems the only goal was indeed to have a monopoly, so Mel and the gang could nickel and dime subscribers without risk of them moving on to another competitor. Good show gents.

Unfortunately, I will continue to listen because there is no alternative, but if there was I would say “Fa Fa Fooey” to Sirius XM.

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Joe Payne

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