I’m an Ex-XM Subscriber

By  |  Monday, July 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm

iPhone XM RadioLast week, I was thinking about replacing the XM satellite receiver in my car with my iPhone 3GS.  Now the deed is done: I called XM this afternoon and canceled my service, more than five years after I first became an XM fan. From now on, nearly all the audio I listen to in my car will be piped from my phone. (I do listen to local NPR stations, and may continue to do so via Plain Old FM Radio at least part of the time.)

I enjoyed XM enough over the years that I’m not leaving as an unhappy camper, even though the last couple of years were pretty dang rocky–the service kept raising prices (it now charges $18 a month for what was once $10) and dropping stuff I liked to listen to (Harry Shearer, all of MSNBC). But I don’t want to fiddle with two separate devices in my car, and when I had to make a decision, I opted for the iPhone. It gives me tens of thousands of radio stations for the cost of my AT&T data plan. Plus customizable “radio” from Last.fm, Pandora, and Slacker. Plus a bevy of podcasts. Plus audio books. Plus all my own music. Given all that, I’m willing to live with the fact that it’s not as convenient a car radio as my XM Xpress receiver was. Did I mention it also does GPS navigation and lets me make phone calls?

Some folks have reported having trouble canceling satellite radio or being offered cheap or free service as an enticement to keep the account. I had to wait a half hour on hold to speak to a real person, who offered me a $77-a-year deal if I’d reconsider–but one that would only kick in when my current subscription ended next March, and would then extend to March, 2011.

In other words, even though I told him I was canceling because XM was too expensive, he suggested paying the same rate for eight more months, then continuing to pay for another year beyond that. I declined the offer; he canceled my service.

What XM didn’t offer me was the one thing that might have kept me around: An iPhone-only subscription at a competitive price. (The $12.95 Sirius XM wants for online listening is too much given that it’s the same as the base rate for satellite listening, for a lineup that lacks much of the service’s signature programming and has dozens fewer channels.) I’ll bet I’m not the only XM defector who might have stuck around for a decent iPhone plan…and if it ever offers one I might be back. But for now, I’m ex-XM.

I’ll let you know how my iPhone-as-a-car-radio experiment goes. I already know I like the three customized 1960s stations I’ve created with Slacker a lot more than XM’s Sixties on 6…

 
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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Thom Says:

    Good! Free markets spell death to the expensive Specific, when the General Case is cheap.

  2. Louis Gray Says:

    I am a BRAND NEW Sirius XM subscriber, and I love it.

    It took two things for this to happen.
    1) The introduction of the iPhone app
    2) My acquisition of a new car (to me) without Sirius Radio

    Now, I can get my Sirius Radio fix anywhere, with the iPhone plugged into the car stereo, and Mac software to play on the laptop the rest of the time.

    I love my Sirius radio, and I am happy to pay. I will always pay if I can for quality.

  3. tomlothian Says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but the moment that you need to use the gps on the iPhone you will not be listening to Last.fm, Pandora, and Slacker, a bevy of podcasts, plus audio books, plus all your own music.

    You might have to… (gasp) Turn on the radio!

  4. jltnol Says:

    Ugh!

    No more freakin’ subscriptions! It’s bad enough that we all get hooked into these terrible business arrangements that only benefit the business and not the consumer.

    I gave up on cable because I was paying nearly $100.00 a month for it, and yet, there were times that there was nothing on that I wanted to watch. I’m paying for content 24/7 even tho I only use it much much less than that.

    Let me pay for the channels I want to watch, or let me pay for the amount of time that I’m actually watching, and you’ll have me back as a customer.

    Same thing with XM. Your paying for 24/7 access but don’t use it nearly that much. I’d never subscribe to radio until and unless they make the pricing model better… let me listen anywhere and on any device for one very very low price, and I’m in. Otherwise, forget it. Besides, XM is just like 600 cable channels… Still nothing to listen to.

  5. Alex Says:

    Sirius XM is more than radio. It’s entertainment. You can’t call Pandora and Slacker Radio. Why? Because there is no DJ… you can skip songs. It’s really just a free song listening. Sirius XM is good quality programming and it can’t be beat .

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    I should make clear that I didn’t cancel XM because I think it’s a lousy deal–and actually, it generally makes me feel good to pay for something I like, since I feel like I’m doing something to keep the company that provides it viable. (I’m loving the free version of Slacker, but may upgrade to the paid version simply to throw some bucks the company’s way each month.)

    Absent external considerations, XM is worth the bucks. I do think that the repeated price hikes and nickel-and-diming must be ticking off at least some customers, though. And it’s surely going to have more and more trouble competing with the wealth of cheaper and free listening alternatives on the net.

    –Harry

  7. steve55 Says:

    I used to have 4 XM subscriptions, now I have one (and just barely). If you are new to SiriusXM than you may not know what it was like pre “merger” and being used to FM it’s still better. But it used to be FAR better, and FAR less expensive. Mel and the boys promised the world to us, the FCC and Congress and have delivered absolutely none of it. I have never been so disgusted with a single company in all of my life – first they raised secondary subs, then then started charging for online, now they raise the price of the single sub. All of this after they took off nearly every music station I listened to overnight without warning, and replaced them with Sirius or SiriusXM hybrids containing smaller playlists and yammering DJ’s.

    What happened to “ala carte” that was promised? What happened to lower costs and more choices? I literally pay $15 a month now mainly JUST for one talk show on XM, and the wife and I both use Slacker portables for music. It sounds better, and kind folks have recreated all of the missing XM (and Sirius) channels.

    > You can’t call Pandora and Slacker Radio. Why? Because there is no DJ… you can skip songs.

    Actually the Slacker Top 40 station has a DJ that comes on occasionally. And while I do miss having the music-oriented DJ hosted shows a bit the ability to skip and ban and create custom stations with Slacker far outweighs what I am missing. Plus, actual DJ’s program the Slacker produced stations, including XM Comedy which is done by Joel Haas the former PD of the XM 150 Comedy channel. And I get this all without monthly fees (and while there are scant few ads on the web player, there are none on the portables), it’s a win-win.

  8. Non-XM Kid Says:

    I used to have an XM subscription, but it’s not working out as I felt I’m getting the shorter end of the stick. I’m using far less than I paid for (24/7) and I don’t see why I should pay for what I don’t use. Also, my iPhone apps keeps me occupied, and if your “iPhone-as-a-car-radio experiment” works, please keep us in the loop with some details. I’ll be the first to implement it! =P

  9. Lynn Says:

    I just wish their customer service and billing department worked 1/2 as well as their service. Has anyone been successful in getting to someone in the finance department?

    I fell into the FM hell of consoliating my accounts and having XM double bill me for one of them. I have spent countless hours and 6 months still trying to get them to straighten this out. Everytime I call I have to start from the beginning. You can never call and get the same person.

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