companies products

wtf, are you sirius?

Sirius-ly Screwed
Sirius-ly Screwed

I used to champion Sirius Satellite Radio. I loved the programming, the commercial free music, the selection, being able to record songs I like on my Stiletto 2 and killing time channel surfing. I got my first account when I bought a new car that came with a three month free trial. I enjoyed it so I signed up for a year. A little while later I bought another car for commuting. This car, while easy on gas, was light on creature comforts like satellite radio. The hours of listening regular radio were taking their toll – thankfully I was given the Stiletto 2 a few months later as a gift and my commute became bareable.

Don’t get me wrong, I had my gripes – the Stiletto 2 is a bit buggy at times, the audio quality can sound compressed and the ocassional signal loss when you went under an overpass or large tree. But I loved Sirius for what it provided – hours of entertainment for whatever mood I was in.

Then came renewal time. The first time around they auto-renewed and auto charged my credit card without notification and without permission. When I prepaid the first year I specifically stated that I only wanted one year and that I didn’t want automatic billing. I had planned on renewing, but the fact that they ignored my request didn’t sit well. I called their customer service and asked them to make sure this didn’t happen again. They basically told me it was still my fault, but agreed to send me a renewal letter the next time around.

Fast forward a few months to the Sirius/XM merger. I have to admit I was in favor of it. I still liked the liked the service (minus the billing practices). I hoped the merger would keep satellite radio in business. I hoped the combined company would offer even more selection. I was wrong. First thing they did – drop three of my favorite channels and change the programming on another. Aggressive billing was one thing, getting rid of the programming I listened to most effectively killed what I loved. I took the time to write a respectful, but to the point letter about how disappointing their programming changes were. No reply. Not even a canned response. By this point it was obvious to me that they didn’t care too much their customers’ wishes.

I didn’t intend to keep both subscriptions this year and was still debating whether I wanted to drop Sirius all together. I’ve got enough podcasts, mp3 and audio books to fill my need for in car entertainment without satellite radio. If I want news, there is always AM radio. Well… my service just kept going. Then they mailed me a bill. With an “invoice fee”. I ignored it. I don’t want to renew and I sure don’t want to pay an invoice fee. Then another bill with two invoice fees. Then an email threatening “Service Interuption”. Then a few more emails and letters. The gears slowly start turning in my head… wait… wtf? Seriously, did sirius auto-renew me? That was question I posed to the customer service rep who quickly replied that it was standard practice.
-Can you look up the notes on my account? Do you see where it says “Do not auto-bill, do not auto-renew”?
-But sir, we auto renew every account – you need to call and cancel.
-Uh, but it is prepaid and has a defined end date. Money ran out, turn it off.
-That’s not how it works.
-It was when I talked to the rep last year.
-Sorry sir, you still needed to call us.
-Ok, I would like to cancel.
-Please hold while I transfer you.

And so I was placed on hold for 10 minutes (not a ridiculous amount when compared to calling BofA). The woman who answered had a pleasant voice and said she would gladly process my request. Then she offered to renew the account for $50. Hmm. That is less than 1/3 the $160 they were trying to charge me. Let me think for a second. Oh, and you will start the year today and not back date it two months to the renewal date.

I’m a sucker for a deal, what can I say. But it didn’t have to be that way. I would have gladly paid regular price had they just listened to me as a customer. My requests weren’t outrageous. I wasn’t asking for free hardware and free service. Just that they handle my billing properly and take two seconds to address my concerns over the merger. I know they have bigger issues to deal with with all of the doom and gloom surrounding Sirius, but if they forget about their customers they will never survive.

companies products

wtf hsbc?

the worlds yocal bank
the world's yocal bank

This morning I went to use my HSBC credit card to pay for some gas and was told to see the attendant. That’s odd I thought, but since I was in a hurry I tried another card and everything worked fine. I didn’t really think much about the incident and figured it was just an issue with the payment terminal… until I got home and found a letter from HSBC. The letter, dated two days earlier, stated:

This is to inform you that we will be sending you a replacement HSBC credit card with a new account number due to a security breach. Although this breach was not caused by us, we are taking this precautionery step to reduce the risk to your Account. Providing our cardmembers with a safe and credit card experience is one of our top priorities.

The letter then goes on to say when I can expect my new card and how to activate it. No explanation of what happened or how my account was compromised. Way to step up and take responsibility HSBC! WTF? You turn off my card and use snail mail to notify me. Somebody, but not you, got hacked and my info was compromised – but you give me no details on how this happened or which company was breached. Was it a partner? Was it someone you contracted with? And how much of my personal information was possibly stolen? Way to be upfront HSBC! Doing the bare minimum required by law to inform me of the situation shows me how truly dedicated you are to making security a “top priority”.


The most trusted transaction made publicly available
The most trusted transactions made publicly available

Turns out that Heartland Payment Systems, a payment processor, was the company that got hacked. Heartland is now being sued for damages by the banks and credit unions impacted by the data breach. The breach has already affected over 500 financial institutions and may be the largest ever disclosed. Banks started replacing cards back in February, but I guess it wasn’t a “top priority” at HSBC until mid-March. More information about the breach is available from Heartland at the appropriately titled  2008 Breach website.

products rant

wtf is with… monster cable?

$89 for a 4′ HDMI cable that is worth $2? I bought two 10′ HDMI cables with the same specs for less than $10 including shipping. They’ve worked flawlessly. But hey, I have to give their marketing department credit for actually convincing people that they need to spend the extra $87 for the Monster Brand. I’m just surprised that there are enough people willing to drop a Benjamin for a single cable in the world to keep them going.  I would think that people who are that into a/v equipment would take two seconds to do a little research online and learn the truth.

companies etc. products

WTF is with medical billing practices in general?

So if I get some tests done and I am uninsured, the the lab will bill twice as much as if I went through insurance. You can always see the negotiated rates cutting the bill in half. Would not it make sense to give discount to cash patients for whom you don’t have to do all this extra insurance billing?

companies products

XBox Live Membership

Why can you buy XBox Live Membership for cheaper on Amazon than through Microsoft.   WTF?