SiriusXM is facing allegations that its cancellation policy is illegal and deliberately wastes customers’ time, according to a lawsuit filed by the state of New York. It’s seeking consumer damages and a $5,000 fine for each violation.
Attorney General Letitia James filed the suit on December 20. It outlines how customers who want to cancel their accounts must call customer service or use an online chat. Both methods require a subscriber to speak to a live agent who bombards customers with questions and offers to discourage them from closing their accounts.
The lawsuit states Sirius intentionally wastes subscribers’ time despite the company’s ability to process cancelations “with the click of a button.”
“When companies make it hard to cancel subscriptions, it’s illegal,” James said in a statement. “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.”
The filing reads that although signing up for SiriusXM radio is a simple process, it is “extremely difficult” to cancel. Sirius subscriptions automatically renew, and customers face a lengthy cancellation process compared to most other subscription services like Prime Video, Spotify, or Max.
The lawsuit states Sirius can process cancellations without the help of a live agent but instead trains personnel on a six-part script intended to discourage the customer from giving up.
“Once enrolled, Sirius continues to charge consumers unless they undergo a lengthy and burdensome endurance contest that Sirius created and implemented as a strategy for keeping as many consumers from canceling as possible,” the lawsuit reads. “Even when consumers outlast Sirius and successfully complete the process, their subscription is not always canceled.”
Customer services agents are trained to make a series of renewal offers and are instructed to “think of every ‘no’ simply as a request for more information.” The lawsuit says wait times exceed ten minutes to talk to a live agent and 25 minutes to connect to one via an online chat, which doesn’t include time spent on steps to enter the queue or speaking to an agent. James said SiriusXM’s own data shows it takes an average of 11.5 minutes to cancel by phone and 30 minutes online, though many customers reported longer times.
SiriusXM was not immediately available for comment. However, the lawsuit states a representative testified to the New York Attorney General that the company “believe[s] strongly that a good conversation regarding cancellation requires a lot of back and forth with the consumer.”
This year, despite lengthy cancellation times, SiriusXM lost 336,000 subscribers.