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Save Me from Customer Care

August 5, 2011

Today I have another installment in my ongoing series, Privileged People’s Problems. I pay Sirius for two services: satellite radio and something called Travel Links, which gives me stuff like real time traffic information displayed on the GPS map, weather/ski info, and fuel prices. Last night on the way home, I noticed the Travel Links wasn’t working; when poked at the menu, I got a message on the screen that my Sirius was not active. Surprising, since a) the radio part still worked and b) my renewal date is in the fall. The message showed a phone number to call and my 14-digit ESN (Esomething Something Number, I assume), but I figured I’d call when I got home and wasn’t in traffic anymore (and could look up exactly what I’d paid them when).

I did call when I got home, after verifying I was paid up through October 23rd (radio) and November 20th (Travel Links). (Why those don’t renew on the same day, I have no idea, since they both came with the car and were activated at the same time originally, but whatever.) After I dialed, I had to talk to the automated female voice for a while, responding to her voice prompts and providing my ESN. Then I waited on hold for a while, with the music interrupted periodically by announcements that I could go to the website and access my account there. Since the automated lady and I had previously established that she didn’t recognize the phone numbers I thought my account was attached to, I didn’t think starting over online was a great choice, so I waited. Finally a man who spoke not at all clearly picked up, and the process started all over. Apparently automated lady was not authorized to pass on any information to the live man in India or wherever he was, so he asked for my phone number, couldn’t find my account, asked for my ESN, could find my account, seemed confused about what I was telling him and confused me with what he was saying, eventually said he’d reactivate my radio, and gave me instructions on accessing my account online.

I didn’t go out to the car to check if things were working last night because I’d had enough aggravation for one day (my credit card was also blocked, as the bank though there was suspicious activity on my account; it turned out it was all me, but it took a while to sort it out). I did get online and make sure I could access my Sirius account (I could, but not with the login information the guy on the phone had given me; I had to setup a new account.) This morning, both Travel Links and my radio were not working. So yeah, that time spent yesterday with customer care actually made me worse off. This time I did call the number on the screen, only to find that customer service was not open yet for the day. Of course. Why would you want to have that department staffed during morning drive time when a lot of customers would be trying to use your service?

About that same time, the low tire pressure warning light lit up on my dash, so I got off the freeway and pulled into a parking lot to check that out. No tires were going flat; my current theory is the air that was enough when it was really hot was not enough when it was cooler this morning (around 70 Fahrenheit). Since I was stopped, I used my Droid to get online and login to Sirius, and I was indeed able to restore both my radio and Travel Links using the links on the website. Why was that so difficult? That should have been one phone call. I guess the good news is I use the service enough to miss it when it’s not working, so I’m not paying money for no benefit.

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