I have called SiriusXM twice in the past seven months to cancel my subscription and yet I am still subscribed.

Here’s why.

When I bought my Subaru Forester in April 2017 I got a free three-month subscription to SiriusXM radio. After three months SiriusXM offered me six months for $30 ($34.10 with U.S. Music Royalty fee) and I accepted.

Last March SiriusXM sent me a bill for the next six months at $114.26 ($95.94 subscription + $18.32 U.S. Music Royalty fee). That’s $19.04 per month and way more that I would ever pay to listen to music in my car.

I called to cancel.

Upon hearing my objection the customer service representative offered me the same deal I had before – $30 plus music royalty fee for six months – which I accepted.

On the Friday before Labor Day I realized that my subscription was going to expire in three days so I called SiriusXM.

The automated operator answered. I hit zero at the first opportunity after the initial screening questions to queue up to talk to a human.

After five minutes Josie picked up my call. I told her I wanted to cancel. When she asked why, I told her I did not want to pay $19 per month for music.

Josie reviewed my account with me and then told me she could not offer me a promotion but a different department could. She transferred my call and Francisco picked up.

At that point I was on the phone eight minutes and wondering if SiriusXM was worth the trouble.

Francisco offered me five months for $35. My thought was “Ugh then I have to call back again in five months?” I asked if he had anything longer.

His next offer was six months for $33. Though the offer was better I felt annoyed that he did not offer this one first. I asked if he had anything longer than six months because these semi-annual phone calls were not a good use of my time.

His third promotional offer was $5.99 per month for one year (plus fees and taxes of course) but the company required a credit card number and permission to bill automatically each month.

After all these dodges and shifts, SiriusXM wants authorization to access to my credit card on a monthly basis? No way!

This, ladies and gentlemen and people of all persuasions, is not customer service.

This is a game.

You’ve heard that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? It also gets the discount.

Wheels that don’t pick up the phone get fleeced.

Have Fun with Your Customers, But Don’t Play Games

As a human and perhaps as a customer of SiriusXM you can see my frustration with this brand.

Maybe SiriusXM’s management thinks that most customers will pay full price without complaining and that those who call will consider the steep discounts won from their promotions time well spent.

They would be wrong.

Because I, SiriusXM customer, was not thinking “Oh what a great deal. That was totally worth my time.”

My brand associations with SiriusXM are overpriced, frustrating, hassle and disrespect for my time. They have nothing to do with great deals, music or programming.

Moreover, SiriusXM has eroded my trust. They have a zillion deals and you never know if you are getting the best one. Given their tendency to keep billing as they raise their prices, I wouldn’t trust them with access to my credit card.

These are not associations that bode well for my future as a SiriusXM customer. Lost customer is more likely.

Deliver More Than Price Value

When you price your products and services of course you have to cover your costs and earn a profit. Most brands also have to consider their competitive set when pricing as well.

For any brand to thrive in the long run though, you have to deliver value to your customers.

Price is not the only measure of value.

Brand value barometers include:

  • Quality of offerings
  • Ease of doing business
  • Convenience
  • Timely delivery
  • Easy-to-understand instructions
  • Customer education and content
  • Responsive and effective customer service
  • Entertainment/fun factor
  • Bonus offerings and upgrades

If you deliver on these measures of value and price your offering appropriately, any price resentment customers may feel upon purchase will likely fade in memory. Impressive performance on those elements builds your brand value and goodwill in the mind of your customer.

On the other hand, if your pricing is out of sync with customers’ value perceptions your brand may already be on precarious ground.

Add time-consuming, hassle-laden semi-annual negotiations and your brand is now teetering on the precipice, ready to tip over into customer disengagement.

Brands betting on customer indifference and making attentive customers jump through hoops risk creating legions of disgruntled customers. And disgruntled customers share their negative experiences, like I am doing now with you, my wonderful reader.

I’ll never get back the 17 minutes and 22 seconds I spent on the phone with SiriusXM, only to end up paying 64 cents more per month than I did for the last six months.

Any manager who would claim I saved $74.96 from the full price would be dreaming. I would never have paid $114.26 to begin with.

Brands need to appreciate their customers’ business, not play roulette with them only when they threaten to leave.

Think about how you want your customers to feel as they interact with your brand and build every aspect of your business around that.

My last piece of advice?

If you are a SiriusXM customer, don’t pay full price!

Epilogue

For those of you left wondering, I took the six months for $33. I’m not sure if I will still be a SiriusXM customer after that.

What I am sure of is that SiriusXM isn’t the only one playing the subscription discount game. We have wrangled regular discounts from Comcast and The Wall Street Journal as well. And you can read about the number my father did on The New York Times.

If you have a SiriusXM subscription (car radio and/or internet) that you want to keep and have been paying full price, here’s how to reduce your cost:

  • Call SiriusXM. Their phone number is 1.866.635.5027.
  • Hit zero to talk to a human customer service rep as early as you can.
  • Threaten to cancel your subscription or express your displeasure at their high cost – whatever approach feels best to you.
  • Keep asking about their promotions until you find the cheapest or the one that has the terms you like best. They are constantly changing. If you want a guideline of how much to pay, look at their current new subscriber deals on their website and aim for that.
  • Know that:
    • In addition to saving on the monthly fee, you will get reduced music royalty fees and taxes as they are assessed as a percentage of the service cost.
    • Any deal you strike with SiriusXM will start the day you call, so in the future you’ll want to call as close to your renewal date as you can to minimize the frequency of your calls. Whenever you call, they will refund the unused portion of your current subscription and apply it to your new one.
    • This methodology works with any subscription service engaging in new subscriber or other discounts. You can read about my new subscriber discount pet peeve here.
  • Let me know how you fare!

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