Death Knocks Early for Lifetime Sirius Plans

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — Music fans who paid big bucks for lifetime subscriptions to Sirius XM Radio thinking they’d be listening to the satellite radio service on their deathbeds were wrong, a class action claims: They’ve only got till their receivers die.
     “Defendant systematically advertised and sold its lifetime subscriptions to consumers by leading consumers to believe that such lifetime subscriptions were for the lifetime of the consumer,” lead plaintiff Paul Wright says in the Monday class action in Federal Court.
     “However, when consumers have tried to transfer their lifetime subscriptions from one receiver to another or from one automobile to another, defendant has taken the position that the ‘lifetime’ referred to is not the lifetime of the purchasing consumer, but the lifetime of the receiver or automobile.”
     Early purchasers of satellite radio “took a chance and paid large upfront lifetime subscription fees” to Sirius, with no guarantee that it would survive as a business, “but in the hope that if defendant did survive, their lifetime subscription purchases would pay off over time,” Wright says in the complaint.
     Sirius XM Radio was formed in 2008 in a merger between competitors Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio. Although the new company verged upon bankruptcy a few times, today it has more than 24 million paid subscribers.
     Tens of thousands of them purchased lifetime subscriptions, the class action estimates.
     Wright says that Sirius XM’s “refusal to honor the lifetime subscriptions has allowed it to reap millions of dollars in profits while individual consumers find they have spent hundreds of dollars for a lifetime subscription that is not as it was represented and not as expected.”
     Wright bought a lifetime subscription in December 2006 for about $400. He got no service agreement or other written agreement about his lifetime subscription, he says.
     Wright says “understood ‘lifetime’ to be his lifetime, as is used in the ordinary course of business.” He got “no verbal or written notice that the lifetime subscription was limited to the original device only” or was limited in any other way.
     Wright found out otherwise in January this year when his portable receiver, known as a Stiletto, gave out and he bought a replacement. He tried to transfer his lifetime subscription, but Sirius refused.
     Neither the company’s director of corporate communications nor its general counsel could be reached late Tuesday for comment.
     However, an item on the Sirius XM website says that lifetime subscriptions purchased before June 20, 2005, can be transferred to new devices indefinitely. Those purchased between that date and Sept. 7, 2007, can be transferred three times. Ones bought after that date for use in a home or portable receiver can be transferred three times, for a fee. Those installed in a car radio cannot be transferred.
     Based on that policy, Wright should be able to move his subscription to a new receiver three times. The class action insists, however, that he was never told about any policy or limitation, but nonetheless was denied a transfer.
     His attorney, Tina Wolfson of Ahdoot & Wolfson, did not return a call about the case.
     Wright seeks class certification, restitution, an injunction and damages for fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, unfair competition, breach of express and implied contract, and consumer law violations.

%d bloggers like this: