Herring and the attorneys general of 44 other states and the District of Columbia agreed to the settlement, which will require Sirius XM Radio to provide restitution directly to eligible customers and pay $3.8 million to the states. Virginia will receive $15,000 to support future consumer protection efforts, in addition to the direct restitution to affected customers.
“Virginia consumers have the right to know and rely on the terms and conditions of any good or service they purchase,” said Attorney General Herring. “In addition to direct customer restitution and payment to the state, this settlement will require Sirius XM to change its practices to ensure that future abuses do not occur. Virginia consumers should always closely review terms and conditions, especially when signing up for a free trial that may automatically bill them when the trial expires. We will continue to hold businesses accountable when they attempt to deceive or abuse Virginia consumers.”
The states’ investigation focused on consumer complaints involving:
- contracts that were automatically renewed without consumers’ knowledge or consent
- charges billed to consumers for automatic renewals of services without consumers’ knowledge or consent
- failures to honor consumers’ cancellation requests and other difficulties with cancelling contracts
- misrepresentations that consumers’ Sirius XM services would be cancelled and not renewed
- higher, unanticipated rates after a low introductory rate
- failures to provide timely refunds
Sirius XM customers may be entitled to restitution if they suffered an unresolved, identifiable loss from this conduct between July 28, 2008 and December 4, 2014. Consumers must file a complaint by May 3, 2015 to be eligible for restitution.
Complaints may be filed with Sirius XM, or with the Attorney General’s Office, who will forward complaints to the company. After submitting a complaint, consumers will be contacted by Sirius XM for additional information to determine their eligibility for a restitution payment.
Virginia consumers who want to file with the Attorney General’s Office may do so online, or may download a complaint form to be completed and returned to: Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Section, 900 East Main St., Richmond, VA 23219, or faxed to (804) 225-4378. Complaint forms can also be requested by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963.
The settlement is in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance that has been filed with the Richmond Circuit Court for approval. In addition to restitution and payments to the states, Sirius XM has agreed to, among other things:
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose all terms and conditions at the point of sale, such as billing frequency, term length, automatic renewal date, and cancellation policy.
- Make no misrepresentations about the available plans in advertisements.
- Provide advance notice via mail or email about upcoming automatic renewals for plans lasting longer than six months.
- Revise the cancellation procedures to make it easier for consumers to cancel.
- Prohibit incentive compensation for customer service representatives based solely on “saves,” or retaining current customers who attempt to cancel.