I heard that my favorite skeptics Penn & Teller were going to be on XM radio so I headed over to the Sirius/XM website to have a listen.  I hit the main page and signed up for a “free” trial.  “Sweet!,” I thought.  “30 days free!” 

Nope.  Not quite.

Because step two of the “free” XM trial signup process involves entering your credit card information. I don’t know about you, but something about “free” and “give me your credit card number” doesn’t add up.  XM seems to be about one step above that kind man from Nigeria who wanted to send me $20 million if only I’d pay the transfer fees.

Of course I’m not stupid enough to give these people my credit card information. After all, they’re the same people who promised me a rebate that I’m still waiting for, 5 years later, and who refused to stop charging my credit card even though I had called to cancel multiple times. 

I briefly considered using a “test” credit card number to try to bypass the screen, but quickly decided against it, as I only wanted to hear Penn & Teller, not commit fraud.

What I did discover was this – XM offers a separate signup path for 7 day trials, no credit card number required. They make this page hard to find, as it’s not linked from their homepage.  I can only assume that they use it in conjunction with certain advertisements and offers. Here’s the page.

Of course, it’s just 7 days, not 30 like the other one gives you. But you don’t have to worry about calling to cancel, or XM/Sirius charging your credit card without your permission.

You know, the funny thing is, had Sirius not treated me so poorly the first time around, I’d probably still be a subscriber**. But lying about rebates, auto-renewing subscriptions without permission, telling me you’ve credited my account when you haven’t, and clogging my inbox with daily newsletters has a way of catching up with you.  And judging by the allegedly “free” trial that requires a credit card, things haven’t changed one bit.

**Edit:  You know, after thinking about it, and looking over the pricing plans, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still be a subscriber. It’s too expensive. $17.95/month doesn’t even include “internet listening” – if you want that, it’ll cost you a full $2.99 more. $21/month for radio?  Seriously?  Who’s coming up with these pricing plans?