NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James sued SiriusXM Radio, Inc. (SiriusXM) for trapping consumers in subscriptions and maintaining deliberately long and burdensome cancellation processes. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that SiriusXM forces its subscribers to call or chat online with an agent to cancel a subscription, then deliberately draws out those interactions as part of its strategy to prevent subscribers from canceling. The OAG also found that the company trains its agents to not take “no” for an answer when customers try to cancel, making it extremely difficult and frustrating for consumers to end their subscriptions. Through this lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks restitution, penalties, and disgorgement from SiriusXM for violating New York’s business laws.
“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,” said Attorney General James. “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. New Yorkers can trust that when companies like SiriusXM try to take advantage of them and violate the law, my office will step in to stop them.”
SiriusXM is an audio entertainment company headquartered in New York City and has approximately 35 million subscribers, of which nearly 2 million are New Yorkers. The OAG opened an investigation into the company after hundreds of consumers reported to OAG and other agencies that they could not cancel their subscription. The OAG’s investigation found that the company trains its agents to keep customers on the phone or in the chat for a lengthy six-part conversation that includes asking a series of questions and then pitching the subscriber as many as five retention offers, all to delay cancellation. When customers decline the offers, agents are trained not to take “no” for an answer and to keep bombarding customers with questions or offers until they either relent or become frustrated.
According to SiriusXM’s own data, it takes subscribers an average of 11.5 minutes to cancel by phone, and 30 minutes to cancel online, although for many subscribers it takes far longer. Subscribers often spend substantial time waiting to be connected with an agent, with wait times that regularly reach more than 20 minutes for online chat agents. Despite these long wait times, OAG found that the company can cancel a customer’s subscription with a simple click of a button, or even allow customers to do so themselves.
In affidavits submitted to OAG, consumers described how difficult it was to cancel subscriptions they no longer used or wished to pay for. In one case, a SiriusXM agent kept a subscriber in a chat for 40 minutes, despite the subscriber’s clear and repeated requests to cancel, according to a log of the chat. And after that, the company continued to charge the customer anyway. When the consumer then filed a complaint, SiriusXM said that it was not able to locate any cancellation request from him. Another complaint — handwritten by a consumer on behalf of her 92-year-old mother — described a maddening phone call with a SiriusXM agent that lasted nearly 40 minutes.
The OAG’s lawsuit charges that SiriusXM violated state and federal laws concerning subscriptions that renew automatically by failing to provide subscribers with a cancellation mechanism that is simple, timely, and easy to use. The OAG’s lawsuit also alleges that SiriusXM engaged in fraud and deception by misleading subscribers seeking to cancel.
Through her lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks full restitution for all impacted subscribers nationwide, including compensation for the time SiriusXM wasted by putting its subscribers through a deliberately lengthy cancellation process. Attorney General James also seeks disgorgement, penalties, and costs, and to require SiriusXM to implement a simple and easy-to-use cancellation process.
Attorney General James asks any consumers who have been affected by SiriusXM’s cancellation practices, or the deceptive or fraudulent cancellation practices of any other automatic-renewal service, to file a consumer complaint online.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Riff of the Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine. The Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau is a part of the Division of Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.