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Sirius XM Radio agrees to pay fine, restitution for ‘misleading, unfair, deceptive business practices’

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

New Jersey has signed onto a multi-state settlement agreement with Sirius XM Radio Inc. that resolves allegations the satellite radio company engaged in misleading advertising and billing practices.

Under terms of the multi-state agreement, New Jersey will be paid $114,982 by Sirius, which is accused of engaging in a variety of misleading, unfair and deceptive business practices in violation of consumer protection laws, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

Overall, Sirius has agreed to pay a total of $3.8 million to the participating states, and to provide restitution to eligible consumers.

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To be considered for restitution, consumers must file a complaint concerning conduct by Sirius that occurred between July 28, 2008, and Dec. 4, 2014 that has not already been resolved.

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Under the settlement, Sirius also agreed to changes in the way it does business, through which it will:

· Clearly and conspicuously disclose, at the point of sale, all terms and conditions such as billing frequency, contract term length, automatic renewal date and cancellation policy;
· Make no misrepresentations about available subscription plans in its advertisements.
· Provide advance notice via regular mail or e-mail about upcoming automatic renewals for plans lasting longer than six months;
· Revise cancellation procedures to make it easier for consumers to cancel;
· Prohibit incentive compensation for customer service representatives based solely on “saves,” or the retaining of customers who attempt to cancel.

A multi-state investigation led by Ohio focused on a variety of consumer complaints against Sirius involving such problems as difficulty in canceling contracts, failure by Sirius to honor contract cancellation requests, and contracts being automatically renewed without consumers’ consent, Hoffman said.

Other complaints included the charging of unauthorized fees, the fixing of unexpectedly higher subscription rates following a low introductory rate, and Sirius XM failing to provide timely refunds, he said.

“Businesses have a responsibility to clearly communicate their terms of service, and adhere to those terms,” Hoffman said. “They also have a duty under the law to ensure that consumers get what they pay for, and that consumers are not billed for services they did not request or no longer want.”

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New Jersey consumers who have a complaint regarding Sirius’ business practices may file a complaint online within the next 150 days, through the Division of Consumer Affairs Web site at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or by mail to: New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, PO Box 45025, Newark, NJ 07101. Consumers also may file a complaint directly with Sirius XM at www.siriusxm.com/settlementprogram or by mail to Sirius XM, PO Box 33059, Detroit MI 48232-5059.

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The multi-state Executive Committee that conducted the Sirius investigation consisted of lead state Ohio, as well as Arizona, Connecticut, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

States participating in the settlement along with New Jersey include: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar, assigned to the Division of Law’s Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section, and Division of Consumer Affairs Investigator Aziza Salikhova handled the Sirius matter on behalf of New Jersey.

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