NEW YORK - New York’s attorney general filed suit Wednesday against SiriusXM, accusing the satellite radio and streaming service of making it intentionally difficult for its customers to cancel their subscriptions.
Attorney General Letitia James' office said an investigation into complaints from customers found that SiriusXM forced subscribers to wait in an automated system before often lengthy interactions with agents who were trained in ways to avoid accepting a request to cancel service.
"Having to endure a lengthy and frustrating process to cancel a subscription is a stressful burden no one looks forward to, and when companies make it hard to cancel subscriptions, it’s illegal," the attorney general said in a statement.
The company disputed the claims, arguing that many of the lengthy interaction times cited in the lawsuit were based on a 2020 inquiry and were caused in part by the effects of the pandemic on their operations. The company said many of its plans can be canceled with a simple click of a button online.
"Like a number of consumer businesses, we offer a variety of options for customers to sign up for or cancel their SiriusXM subscription and, upon receiving and reviewing the complaint, we intend to vigorously defend against these baseless allegations that grossly mischaracterize SiriusXM’s practices," Jessica Casano-Antonellis, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The attorney general's office cited affidavits in which customers complained of long waits in an automated system to chat with an agent, only to endure lengthy attempts to keep their business. It takes subscribers an average of 11.5 minutes to cancel by phone, and 30 minutes to cancel online, although for many subscribers it takes far longer, the attorney general's office said.
During 2019 and 2021, more than 578,000 subscribers seeking to cancel by telephone abandoned their efforts while waiting in the queue to be connected to the live agent, according to the lawsuit.
"When I finally spoke to the first customer representative and explained that I had been waiting nearly half an hour, I was promptly hung up on. Which means I had to wait again. Another 30 minutes, just to cancel a service I would have preferred to cancel online," one customer wrote in an affidavit.
The company said that in 2021, on average, online chat agents responded to consumer messages within 36 seconds to 2.4 minutes.
The lawsuit seeks financial penalties, including compensation for the time customers spent online during what the attorney general called "a deliberately lengthy" cancellation process.