SiriusXM Seriously?

Panamint Springs CA

Recently my wife and I rented a car with a SiriusXM satellite radio package.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for writing this blog post.

Gotta love car rental agencies

The young lady who walked us out to our car knew nothing about cars. She certainly couldn’t answer any questions about the Ford Fusion that we rented.

We could pay $49.98 to return the car on E and not worry about it. But she didn’t know how many gallons the tank held or what “Flex Fuel” meant. To not worry about it, we took the package.

She was good at selling.

We were going to be driving all over the southwest. A colleague told me to never let the tank get below one-quarter since the area we were going to was remote and we might not see a gas a station for a while. This being the case, tank capacity seemed important.

Then she pitched us on GPS navigation. We were going off into the dessert and mountains, so this made sense to me also. That was an easy sell, but they could have offered it when I made my reservation.

Not adding it to the original quote reduced the price by $153.90.

We could have used our phones for navigation, but they have a funny way of running out of power at the worse time. We were spending three days in Death Valley, so navigation was high on my list of priorities.

XM Siriously?

Then she pitched us on SiriusXM Satellite radio.

I’ve driven loaner cars with SiriusXM, but only for a day or two.

Not long enough to figure it out or to find it’s short-comings.

We were going to be in the dessert and mountains of Nevada, California, Utah and Arizona. I love music and know that remote areas often have few choices for music. It’s nice to get the local flavor, but I didn’t want to get stuck listening to country music or The Farm Report.

So we took the SiriusXM Satellite Radio package for $15.00.

Not a lot of money in comparison to what we spent on this vacation. But since I’m paying for something I’m used to getting for free, I get to vent a little bit!

Maybe with the extended test drive we would find out what’s so wonderful about satellite radio.

What we learned about SiriusXM Satellite Radio

You will run out of Channels

Their website says they have 175 channels, but I think we only had 30. Maybe that’s the rental car package or we never figured out how to get the other 140 channels.

If I had thirty solid channels to listen to in Boston I’d be thrilled. Unfortunately we did not have thirty solid channels on the road.

SiriusXM uses themed channels. There was a “Grateful Dead” channel that was pretty good. But I’m not a die hard fan and some of the deep cuts were way beyond me, and my wife doesn’t like The Dead at all.

That channel got about 15 minutes of our time each day.

Then there was a “Jimmy Buffet” or “Parrot Head” channel. Fortunately that was not all Jimmy Buffet all day, but it was that type of music. We may have listened to a song a day on that channel as we searched for something to listen to.

Other channels were themed by the decade. I’m not a big fan of those channels. Each decade has a wide variety of music. If the 80’s channel is playing English Synth pop instead of punk when I dial in it can be a quick stop.

While I enjoy music from the 60’s to today, these channels seemed to have a small rotation of songs.

Short Play Lists

Over 15 days, we listened to some channels almost every day.

We’d listen to a channel and then I’d start to hear the same songs as the day before. I’d change to another channel and the same thing would happen.

The 1980’s had everything from Madonna to Michael Jackson to The Clash and The Eagles. 1,000 bands must have charted at least one song. Some had many top 40 or top 10 hits in that decade. So why repeat?

I thought that SiriusXM would be an endless supply of songs with no repeats. At least not within a week.

Eventually I figured out that there were five or six channels that I could listen to. To keep things fresh I scanned through these channels often.

In Boston I listen to five stations regularly and another five frequently. I’m used to changing the channel, but often this is due to commercial breaks.

Radio Silence

Zion CanyonWhile SiriusXM played some deep cuts, we drove some deep canyons.

I can’t really blame SiriusXM for this one. Some of the canyons we drove through were steep and narrow. FM or AM signals probably would have been blocked also. Often we did not have cell service in these remote areas.

This is a photo from the top on Zion Canyon looking down on the road.

It was still odd to be focused on keeping the car on the road and then realize that the radio was off. It didn’t hiss, satellite radio just goes silent. No signal, no hiss.

Seriously XM?

I must have said this 100 times over fifteen days of driving. When ever songs would repeat or we lost the station or that Dead jam was just too much to listen to.

At the time I didn’t realize we were only paying $1 per day. I thought it was more like $5 or something that seemed way too much for something I usually get for free.

The price of our rental went from $550 when I made the reservation to $849 when we added all of the extras to $770 in a text update to our bill. It was a challenge to figure it out while trying to relax and have fun. So guessing what the radio cost was a calculation I just tossed my hands up at.

What we paid for the rental and what we did with that car is for another post!

Maybe if you get one of their All Access package there is enough to listen to without repeats or songs you don’t like.

On free radio I just hit the seek button when something comes on that I don’t like. I’m just not paying for it.

Run well my Friends,


Author: OmniRunner

9X Boston Marathon finisher, 17X marathons total. Sharing my love for running and the fun adventures and lessons that come with it. Helping non-profits increase fundraising and new runners celebrate their First 5K.

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