Tuesday, March 02, 2010

National Geographic and XM Radio Flunk Accountability Tests

Time for a bit of a curmudgeonly rant.

Yesterday, we received from National Geographic a video that was part of some promotional "trial" package they sold us over the phone. The phone call was a few weeks ago and we had forgotten the details of the promotion, but we knew it was a "free" trial.

Yet, when we opened the package, there was an invoice. Nothing about any free trial. So we called Nat'l Geo up and asked why we were being charged for a free trial. "Oh, you signed up for a 14-day free trial. After that, you pay the invoice amount, which is still HALF off," said the enthusiastic lady on the other end.

We're sorry, but the invoice should clearly state the terms of the offer and be explicit about what to do if we don't want the videos being offered. Since the invoice was misleading, we decided to cancel sight unseen. Not a good way to treat your customers, especially a reputable organization like National Geographic. (The lady graciously told us we could keep the video, or "donate it to your local library." If they keep selling stuff this way, our library will be awash in videos.)

On to XM Radio. A couple years ago, we purchased a home XM radio unit. Turns out it doesn't work too well--difficult reception from the satellite. We used it less and less and now, darned if we even know where the thing is.

We were then reminded that our subscription was about to renew automatically, so we went online to cancel it. Turns out you can do almost anything online with XM EXCEPT cancel your subscription. How nice. We had to call XM and navigate the automated phone system for several minutes to get to a live human who could actually cancel a subscription.

And they have the nerve to argue to the feds that they aren't a monopoly.

Here's a reminder to businesses: good, honest service will get you loyal customers for life. Difficult economic times only bring that fact home.

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