Why Sling — Not Sirius XM — Was My Stanley Cup Road Trip Savior

2010 Stanley Cup

Our six-month trial for Sirius XM (NSDQ: SIRI) expired May 24 — and the company’s flawed customer service may keep it dark. My own experience with Sirius XM’s efforts to convert trial subs that come with new cars into paying customers already if had me wondering if the company could do better with conversions and upgrades. Converting to the basic package would have been relatively easy (I think) either online or during one of several phone calls that offered only that option. Getting the Best of XM (the only way to listen to NHL games on Sirius XM) and possibly the online version plus the kind of price break I was being offered for basic required more time than I had. Still, I left time on May 24 to give it a shot. Or so I thought.

Sirius cut off the service mid-evening, and when I went online, the info I needed to do anything without going back to the car and turning on the radio was gone. By the time I got another chance, we were back in the car for a 600-mile drive with the Stanley Cup finals about to begin. I found the ID number and we dialed in. Fast automated answer. That was good as it got. The hand off to a customer service rep never happened. Instead, the phone rang and rang for more than 15 minutes during two attempts with no results other than a headache and a reminder of why I disliked the original activation process so much.

Instead, we downloaded the $30 iPhone Sling app (we’ll make that up in two months by leaving Sirius off) and plugged the iPhone into the aux jack. Problem solved. I listened to the first two periods of the game while my navigator watched on our home NBC station via the Slingbox. (We caught the rest of the game in a Kentucky sports grill where we came close to starting a riot when the manager switched all the Lakers-Suns sets to hockey by mistake.) It’s not a perfect solution, especially in spotty coverage areas but Sirius has its blips, too. Next step: programming our own Grateful Dead channel.

The kicker: e-mails from Sirius Sunday and Monday offering a reduced rate to reactivate, promising to turn my service back on within minutes. Seriously.

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