CT Watchdog: Sirius satellite radio attracts serious number of complaints

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For about four years, state attorneys general in Connecticut and other states have been investigating consumer complaints against Sirius satellite radio service.

There is no indication when the investigation will be completed, but for Sirius customers like Sabrina Bright and Becky Melton, it can't be soon enough.

Jaclyn Falkowski, spokeswoman for state Attorney General George Jepsen, assured customers that the investigation is still "active and it is progressing."

"But unfortunately we cannot comment further at this time," she said recently, offering only that her office had received 40 complaints since the investigation was launched in 2009.

During that time, CtWatchdog has received more complaints against Sirius than against any other national company.

There is a pattern to the complaints, which allege:

• Unauthorized charges.

• Customer service representatives whose English is less than fluent.

• Promises of refunds that don't materialize.

• Having to make repeated phone calls to get help with billing issues.

• Cancellations of service not honored.

• Having to spend hours talking to customer service representatives before issues are resolved, or partly resolved.

Spokesmen for Sirius declined to comment on the investigation, the pattern of complaints, or on the individual complaints CtWatchdog sent the company.

For Becky Melton of Texarkana, Texas, the amount of money was not the main issue - $33. The issue was that she felt she was being jerked around.

Melton canceled her service last year.

"I was told in May that a representative would call me when it was time to renew and that I wouldn't be charged unless I wanted to renew," she told CtWatchdog. "I asked the representative over and over if they were sure that I wouldn't be charged and that they were going to call. I didn't get a call and was told that I owe $33."

"I know it's only $33 but it's the principle!"

Sirius canceled the charge after I sent her complaint to the company. Sirius historically has made refunds or provided credits based on complaints I had sent to its public relations department.

For Sabrina Bright, there was a lot more money involved.

Bright, of Michigan, said her husband discovered $588 worth of charges for a Sirius radio subscription in a car they haven't owned in more than 2 years.

First, they refused to refund the money and than credited her husband's account by $338, but the company is refusing to refund the balance.

Sirius has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau despite the fact that there have been 3,293 complaints about billing issues in the past three years. So much for the BBB's rating system.



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