About 6 months ago I purchased a portable GPS system for my airplane. It’s a Garmin GPSMap 396. No longer sold by Garmin it’s a pretty good value on the used market. One of the many features this device offers is in-flight weather depiction on the navigation map the unit displays. So you not only know where you are on the planet, you also know what the weather looks like 500 miles down the road. The weather is delivered via the XM satellite radio network. This means you can also listen to their audio channels, a great boredom fighter.
This past weekend I finally decided it was time to subscribe to the service and start getting familiar with the weather functions. This way I can be prepared for my trip in late July, I’ll already know how to use the device to view and fly around the weather. I logged onto their website and ordered an audio subscription as well as their weather data product. It was all automated and very easy. The audio channels showed up immediately but the weather screen kept showing that I had no subscription for weather. Hmmm… Maybe it just takes a while.
I waited a couple of days and still no weather. I called SiriusXM listener care and they assured me that sending a refresh signal would clear everything up. It did not. The next day I called back and spent more time on the phone with them. After about 45 minutes they assured me that in one hour weather would absolutely show up on my device. It did not.
Okay, something’s wrong here. Time to break down and read the manual. I noted in the manual that came with the XM radio that I need to order the XM Aviator subscription. I did! Didn’t I?? I checked and… no, I didn’t. I ordered the NavData subscription which provides weather data to select automobiles.
I called back again and proceeded to explain that I had ordered the wrong subscription and would like to change it. After a lot of careful checking the friendly representative told me I would have to talk to their account department and that she would transfer my call there right away. I thanked her. After a short delay I was connected to ‘Dan in Marine systems’. I explained the situation to Dan. Dan said he couldn’t help me and that I would have to talk to Online Sales. He unceremoniously said “hang on” and then transferred me.
I explained my situation to the rep and asked if I could change my subscription. It took about 15 minutes to explain everything to her but she finally got it and changed my weather subscription to the correct one. But, she said I would not be able to receive audio channels anymore. I told her that the website said I could get both weather and audio channels and that’s really what I wanted. She told me she’d check into a few things. After about 5 minutes of her checking I suddenly heard ‘Dan in marine systems.”
I told Dan it was me again and that I really didn’t know why I was suddenly talking to him again. He asked for my radio serial number. I told him that I was waiting for the other rep to gather some info and let me know if I could get audio channels with weather subscription. Suddenly we were disconnected. I don’t want to accused Dan of hanging up on my but I am suspicious.
A different phone number was listed on the XM Weather website so I called that number. I told the rep who answered that I need to activate my weather subscription and oh, could I add audio to that? Sure, he said and took care of it on the spot. He told me to wait 40 minutes and turn on the radio. I did and there was my weather and my audio!
All’s well that ends well but overall a very disappointing customer service experience.