SiriusXM is facing a lawsuit from New York’s attorney general over allegations that the satellite radio and streaming service has made it “extremely difficult” for listeners to cancel their subscriptions.
In a complaint filed Wednesday (Dec. 20) in Manhattan court, Attorney General Letitia James’ office accused SiriusXM of subjecting canceling customers to “a lengthy and burdensome endurance contest,” which allegedly requires phone conversations with a live agent and extended time spent on hold.
“Sirius deliberately wastes its subscribers’ time even though it has the ability to process cancellations with the click of a button,” attorneys from James’ office wrote in the lawsuit. “The only reason Sirius requires cancelling subscribers to interact with a live agent at all is to maximize its opportunity to retain them as subscribers.”
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, James said it followed an investigation that showed SiriusXM was “trapping consumers” with its cancellation process, including by training its employees “not take ‘no’ for an answer.”
“Having to endure a lengthy and frustrating process to cancel a subscription is a stressful burden no one looks forward to, and when companies make it hard to cancel subscriptions, it’s illegal,” James said. “Consumers should be able to cancel a subscription they no longer use or need without any issues, and companies have a legal duty to make their cancellation process easy.”
Following the filing of the lawsuit, a spokeswoman for SiriusXM said the company would “vigorously defend against these baseless allegations,” saying that they “grossly mischaracterize” its practices.
“It’s telling that the New York Attorney General issued a press release before providing SiriusXM with a copy of the complaint,” the company statement said. “Like a number of consumer businesses, we offer a variety of options for customers to sign up for or cancel their SiriusXM subscription.”
According to the new lawsuit, SiriusXM automatically renews subscriptions at the end of a term unless a user calls on the phone to cancel. The lawsuit claims that users are sometimes forced to wait as long as 25 minutes just to connect with an agent, who then subject them to a “six-part script” in which they are trained to repeatedly refuse to actually terminate the subscription.
“Sirius requires its live agents to present a series of renewal offers to retain the consumer as a subscriber,” the AG’s office wrote in the lawsuit. “But when a consumer declines an offer, or refuses to hear further offers, Sirius instructs its agents not to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
By doing so, SiriusSM forces subscribers to “devote inordinate amounts of time, patience, and stamina trying to cancel a subscription they no longer wish to pay for,” the lawsuit says, even though they have a “legal and contractual right to cancel anytime using a process that is simple and efficient.”