Saturday, September 28, 2013
I realize he isn't everybody's proverbial cup of tea--though I believe the aversion of many is due to inaccurate presumptions--but I have listened for much of my adult life and have derived great pleasure...and even considerable enlightenment.
A couple years ago I wrote a long piece on my fandom, and also wrote about seeing him at an America's Got Talent taping this spring. So this isn't primarily about Howard himself.
If anything, it's to Howard himself.
For I know from years of listening how much Howard Stern appreciates his listeners--and doesn't like them being taken advantage of.
So as I have gotten nowhere with SiriusXM Listener Care, Customer Service, et al., I thought I would take the tack to air this here.
I can't say I really expect much, but if nothing else, I feel like sharing it.
When Howard Stern announced in the fall of 2004 that he would be leaving terrestrial radio for Sirius in January 2006, I became a Sirius stockholder.
I also bought a JVC Sirius receiver unit at Best Buy and had it installed in my 2004 Dodge Stratus, which I still have.
Although years ago, the LED display on my unit conked out, I didn't really need it, because I knew where Howard 100 & 101 were preset.
I also came to really like the E Street Radio channel dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven's Underground Garage and later Pearl Jam Radio, but Howard Stern was 100% the reason I became a Sirius subscriber and 90% of what I listened to on it over the years.
When Sirius merged with XM, my Sirius stock tanked, but I retained the channel lineup I had all along, and also could hear it over the internet.
In recent months, my JVC receiver--which was distinct from my in-dash car stereo but connected to it--perpetually displayed an "Acquiring Signal" message and wouldn't play any audio. This was annoying, but when it initially happened, I wasn't steadily working so would listen to Howard at home over the internet.
But I recently started in a new job assignment (i.e. a finite gig) and though I am really only driving to & from a train station, I missed hearing Howard (and rare Springsteen concerts) on my commute.
So I called Sirius, a few times, first to see if they could remedy the technical issue, and when they couldn't, in hopes of getting a replacement radio at a reasonable cost. The prices they quoted for a new plug-and-play (i.e. not in-dash) radio always seemed to be higher than what I was seeing on Amazon or BestBuy.com, and SiriusXM customer service never could answer how I was supposed to remove my old unit and utilize the "Vehicle Kit" they said would accompany a Starmate 8, Status 7 or Stratus 6.
The fact that the unit Sirius was trying to sell me--and the prices--kept changing with each call also made wary, so one day last week I just went to Best Buy.
Best Buy had some plug-and-play docks, but they all seemed to be marked as "XM" units. I was aware that getting Howard Stern is an extra charge to those who were originally XM--and not Sirius--subscribers before the merger.
So I looked at In-Dash units, and though several indicated they were "SiriusXM Ready" only the Alpine CDE-SXM145BT included the Sirius tuner required to actually receive the satellite programming.
The unit was $199.99, but this particular week installation was included in the price (though not all necessary parts). I also liked that I would be able to plug my iPhone & iPod into the receiver, so that helped to justify an upgrade to an otherwise working in-dash car stereo.
I asked the salesperson at Best Buy if I would be able to transfer my Sirius Lifetime Subscription to this Alpine unit, and he said yes. I also called SiriusXM and was told the same thing, and was also told this by the Best Buy installer.
As the stereo was being installed, I called SiriusXM to get service switched to my new radio. For the first time, I was told there was a $75 transfer fee for doing so. I argued about this (I don't recall it being cited when I bought my "Lifetime" subscription), but after explicitly asking if all the same channels would switch over and being told "Yes"--even upon them asking me if I listened to Howard Stern--I paid it, after being transferred to a billing person, with whom I further reiterated this confirmation.
So the first thing I do after getting in the car and leaving the Best Buy audio dock is try to dial up Howard 100.
And I didn't have it.
So I called SiriusXM again, talked to an account rep who explained that I now had an XM Radio and would have to pay another $100 to get XM Premium to hear Howard Stern.
I wound up talking to a supervisor named Daniel Alfonse, who agreed that the situation and policy was unfair, but all he was able to do was offer to waive 50% off the fee, so I'd have to pay $50.
This still seems ludicrous, as not only did I purchase the only in-dash car stereo sold by Best Buy that was equipped to receive SiriusXM, but the only reason I did so was so I could continue to hear Howard Stern.
And as you can see in the photo above, nowhere on the box--or even in the manual--does it indicate that this is an XM-specific radio.
I even subsequently had an online chat--with a guy named Joseph--and another call with a rep named Christine, and neither could cite a stereo I should have bought instead.
And now, get this, I can't even get Howard on the Internet anymore because I'm considered as having XM equipment!!!
So to summarize: I've been a lifetime Sirius subscriber since 2005, wanted to keep listening despite my radio conking out, bought a stereo I was advised would work, had this confirmed repeatedly by SiriusXM, was belatedly informed (and paid) a $75 transfer fee, lost my ability to hear Howard Stern and was told I need to pay $100--or $50 as a "solution"--in order to do so. And I also lost my ability to at least listen on the internet.
Suffice it to say, so far I haven't ponied up the extra $50, but feel stupid for the $335 I already paid to not get what I want.
This doesn't just seem unfair, it seems fraudulent. Or, one might say, like Sirius bullshit.
So I hope Howard hears about this. I think he'd agree it's a stupid way for him to lose a loyal listener and avid fan.