What does a “lifetime” subscription mean? When it comes to a SiriusXM device, it means the lifetime of the device for your built-in car radio, and it can be transferable if you have a portable radio. However, a customer who bought his lifetime subscription to satellite radio service SiriusXM over the phone says that he wasn’t told that the subscription was for the lifetime of the device, and was led to belief that the subscription was for his lifetime.
At one time, before the merger of Sirius and XM into a single satellite radio company, lifetime subscriptions that were infinitely transferable between devices were a thing. June 20, 2005 is the magic date: lifetime subscriptions purchased before then (yes, before the merger) can be transferred between devices up to three times, unless one of those devices is a built-in car radio.
The plaintiff in this case bought his lifetime subscription from Sirius in 2006, which means that it should theoretically be transferable to another device, unless he’s already on his fourth radio. If he’s had his lifetime subscription for 10 years, that’s plausible, but not mentioned in the initial complaint filed in this class action.
In the complaint [PDF], his attorneys explain that customers buying lifetime memberships were gambling on the continued existence of the satellite providers. “Purchasers of the lifetime subscriptions took a chance and paid large upfront lifetime subscription fees to Defendant with no guarantee that Defendant would survive as an ongoing business,” the complaint explains, “but in the hope that if Defendant did survive, their lifetime subscription purchase would pay off over time.”
More importantly, he bought the subscription over the phone, and claims that the salesperson didn’t qualify it in any way, leading him to assume that the subscription was for his lifetime. “[N]o verbal or written notice was provided to Plaintiff that the lifetime subscription was subject to or conditioned upon a service agreement, other written agreement, or other terms to be presented at a later date,” the complaint notes. If he did receive a service agreement in the mail or by email, he didn’t save or remember it.
This bigger problem, however, is that SiriusXM is one of the many companies that requires users to agree to mandatory binding arbitration and to waive their right to a jury trial, specifically excluding class actions. This was also the case for Sirius customers in 2006, buried in the company’s user agreement.
Will this case be forced into arbitration, or will SiriusXM read its own policy if the plaintiff has indeed only owned one radio for the last decade? We’ll keep an eye on the case and keep you posted, but a settlement for people who bought lifetime memberships seems unlikely.
Wright v. Sirius XM Inc. [Complaint] (via Courthouse News)
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.