Saturday, September 28, 2013

How Sirius Stupidity is Preventing Me from Hearing Howard Stern

I love Howard Stern and I make no apology for it.

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.

And in June 2005, I became a Sirius subscriber, purchasing a Lifetime subscription for $500.

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.

The purchase and installation actually wound up taking 3 trips to Best Buy, but I'll condense the story.

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.

WTF?

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.

Hey now!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Forwarded this onto Jason Kaplan...

Anonymous said...

Same thing happening with me...

Ryan said...

As you know it's $75 to transfer your lifetime over to a new radio.

I was the Anonymous person who posted last week. My situation is a little different, but I was able to get them to waive the $75 transfer fee and just pay $100 total for the "upgrade" to Premier (or whatever it's called - the package with Stern.)

I had transferred from a lifetime Sirius subscription to the XM player that's in my new car. After finding that I was missing the Stern Channels; only then (after chatting online) did I find out that the "Transfer" will only get you to standard XM package. I was NOT told that my channels would transfer over to my new car. I was pissed.

This morning, I politely explained my situation to a phone rep who then transferred me to someone else. That person then got approval from his supervisor to waive the $75 fee... thus, I was charged $25 (vs the $100) they originally wanted.

I'm still very disappointed on this whole ordeal. But, am happy to at least this issue solved.

Joshua Brown said...

I'm in this same situation. I talked to some folks in the car stereo world and they told me that ALL new radios work on the XM network -- which means you'll have to transfer your sirius membership to XM and then pay extra for Stern.

I'm to the point where I'm shopping for radios a couple years old on ebay that just say "Sirius-ready", and then find a used SCC1 to access the sirius network.

Ultimately though, I think the plan is to move everyone to the XM network and was probably part of the merger (buyout) deal.

Where the heck is Jason Kaplan to sort this out.

Anonymous said...

Longtime Howard Stern listener as of yesterday he was considered unauthorized channel when I called Sirius told me have to pay a fee now to listen love the guy but he has more money than God have to pay more sorry out of principal can't do it

Anonymous said...

Was a big Howard Stern as of yesterday can no longer get the show on Sirius was told have to pay more money to go to XM seriously who makes more money off of this Howard Stern or the corporations shame on both of you the rest of the world does not have it like you goodbye Howard not that you give a shit

Anonymous said...

Ditto for me.. bought a new car with an "xm" radio and, voila!, no more Howard. Howard is the only reason in the world I would pay for satellite radio. Sad to say, he's lost a 25 year listener.

Noidea said...

Same here. New radio says SiriusXM, not just XM.
Small non-specific blurb about stations during activation, nothing like this. I have a LIFETIME membership. What a way to thank your customers.

Noidea said...

Same here. Lifetime membership since the heart beat started.
Feeling ripped off.

Shane Brown said...

The exact same thing happened to me. I was a faithful listener of Howard for 15 years. I also bought a Sirius lifetime membership in 2006. Bought a new radio in 2014 and haven't had Howard since. We are being ripped off.

Lynda said...

My radio from 2005 started dying and I simply wanted to replace the unit and continue to listening to Howard, which is the sole reason I have Sirius. After a two hour ordeal and two trips to Best Buy to purchase and return units, I am left with a half dead old radio that has no activated service, even though I pre-paid until 2017. What a hassle!!!

David said...

Same problem here, two years after the original post and this still hasn't been fixed. :( I bought Sirius XM branded radio, the Onyx Plus, and now no Howard. I paid the dammed $75 fee and in exchange lost access to my favorite channel.

David said...

Update from previous post: After playing the $75, they want me to pay another $113. After some discussion they agreed to knock $37 off the price, which meant my total fees after having a stolen radio would be $151. I didn't accept. Rep. told me to return my new SiriusXM radio and go and see if I could find one of the discontinued Sirius radios so I wouldn't have to change my plan. That felt like a slap in the face. I will call back later to see if they make a better offer.

Scott Olson said...

I was able to speak to a manager and he took off half of the fee. It's worth it to hear Howard again.

Lisa Lutz said...

I had the Howard Stern on radio and when I turned my car on it was gone. I called Sirius XM and they told me since I had XM radio in my car they don't carry these channels.i told her that's BS that you guys have bought XM satellite and I did have Howard before now it's gone. That's no excuse. But if I pay extra for the channels then maybe we can put it back on. But that's not a guarantee. So needless to say I am not giving them any more money. I am already paying for him to be on along with other channels and I got them but Not Howard. Now my mom just got a new car and he is on hers. I am not going to be buying a new car just to have Howard back on and then have the same thing happened again. I am mad but I can't keep putting$$$$ for just two channels. I miss Howard but I guess I can still hear him when I am with my mom. Until Sirius XM will take him off her car as well. I would like to know what is going on with all of this??? We all pay for this and we all payed to lesson to him and now we can't.

Michele Palulis said...

And now several years later SAME thing...bought an Onyx Plus off ebay since my stiletto finally died and now I have No STERN and the rep said I would have all my same channels. Paid $75 and all they can do is charge me $48 per year which is the difference between the select plan (which ON THEIR WEBSITE SAYS IT INCLUDES STERN WITH NO MENTION OF "IF ONLY ON SPECIFIC RADIOS") and the premium plan. I paid for my lifetime subscription back in 2005 as well. 11 years loyal and they shit on us...ridiculous. But, as they know, we love Howard so will pay the extra fees......

Michele Palulis said...

same here...what a joke. My stiletto died so I got a Onyx Plus and the rep told me oh yeah all your stuff from your lifetime subscription will transfer...NOT. The only thing I listen to is HOWARD and now I can't unless I pay $48 per year! (the dif. between the select and premium packages - which online the select says Howard IS included...they don't tell you ONLY on certain radios!) They offered to send me a radio "for free" that I could listen to Howard on with my current lifetime subscription.....then said it would just be $10 a month for the additional subscription...HOW IS THAT FREE?? And I also paid the transfer fee of $75 which in case you didn't know, you can only do TWICE. ONCE if it's in a car stock radio!