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Hey, XM. Problem Solved Yet?

Like many of you, I found an e-mail from XM Radio in my inbox this morning. The company wanted to tell me - the subscriber, not the reporter at the Post - that there were some problems with service. Um, yeah, thanks. I already knew that...

Here's what I know as of Noon today (thanks in part to readers who have contacted us):

1) The service problems seems to be limited to the Eastern part of the country - but other areas might also be affected, as well.
2) The problem is largely expected to be resolved today - and some of you have already e-mailed to say it's back up.
3) The Web stream of XM programming seems to be just fine - I tried a few channels just a few minutes ago.
4) The XM channels on DirecTV also seem to be working without any problems (a quick thanks to my wife for channel surfing for me.)

OK. There's some info for you - but does that help you at all? And what about the e-mail sent to subscribers this morning? Was that helpful? I'm interested in knowing what level of information you, the subscriber, felt that you needed or wanted. Do you want the technical reasons for the service problems - repeaters, satellites, that kind of stuff? Are you interested in knowing which areas are affected? Or do you just simply want an honest answer about when the problem will be fixed?

I've got a call out to XM now and hope to have an update for you soon.

UPDATE: Apparently, all is well again for XM Radio subscribers. In a statement, the company said service levels are back to normal and that the problem occurred while loading software to a component of the satellite broadcast system, resulting in a loss of signal from one of the company's satellites.

Over at the user forum xmfan.com, people who were earlier inquiring about the outage are now sharing tips on how to restore the signal for those who might still be having some problems -- apparently, just a slight shift of the antenna is all it takes, according to those posting advice. Likewise, XM said in an e-mail to customers that users should allow five to ten minutes to reacquire the XM signal after turning on the device.

Internet streams were never affected by the service disruption, which began sometime before Noon Monday. The service was back up about 24 hours later.

By Sam Diaz  |  May 22, 2007; 11:55 AM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Comments

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Yes, the e-mail was helpful, but it should have come sooner. I was without a signal all day yesterday and didn't find any information on XM's site when I checked it (probably mid-day, after the signal had been out for hours). I thought there was something wrong with my receiver.

As for the information given, I appreciated being told the technical reason (at a basic level a layperson could understand) and the estimated time when it would be fixed.

I have to say that, using the web stream for the first time in months, I found the "currently playing" information to be better (updating faster) than last time I listened on-line. And my receiver has been back up and running without any further problems since around the time of your post.

Posted by: jane | May 22, 2007 3:29 PM

This wasn't really a problem for me over the past few days, since I canceled my XM accounts the same day that they decided to "suspend" Opie & Anthony.

Goodbye, XM. At least until we get our "uncensored" content and favorite show back. Until then, you won't see any money from me.

Posted by: Craig C. | May 22, 2007 3:33 PM

We're having the same problems here in Texas. REALLY ANNOYING! I finally got an e-mail from XM this afternoon saying they're working on the problem.

Posted by: MJ | May 22, 2007 4:12 PM

It would have been lovely to get an e-mail. We heard nothing. We called from our car because that is where the service wasn't and had to cope with their phone system. Really poor customer service.

Posted by: cranky | May 22, 2007 4:19 PM

Sirius is better.

Posted by: Dave | May 22, 2007 4:26 PM

the same problem occured once before that I know of and ive been a sub since dec 2001. But this was 5 years ago or so before there were so many subs so the problem never made the news

Posted by: johnny Oldfield | May 22, 2007 4:39 PM

I have two xm receivers and never received an email. I had no idea whether there was something wrong with my radio or the signal. There was no information on the xm website. Being informed of the problem is far superior to reading about it in the post the next day. XM kept me on hold for over 30 minutes when I tried to find out what was wrong and I ended up hanging up with no answers. With over 8 million subscribers you would think they would have some way of informing their subscribers of a problem.

Posted by: phil | May 22, 2007 4:49 PM

I've been having sketchy reception since yesterday afternoon here in Los Angeles but I didn't receive an email alerting me of any problem. I guess the problem is more widespread than just the east coast.

Posted by: Rayderleg | May 22, 2007 4:50 PM

I was really frustrated by XM. I never know if the problem is with me or with them. Somehow communication should have been better, also, there should be some reimbursement (like if the cable goes out).

Posted by: Jeremy | May 22, 2007 4:54 PM

Here in San Francisco I've also had issues with signal kicking in and out. So as was pointed out, this isn't just limited to the east.

Posted by: Ryan | May 22, 2007 4:57 PM

Service in Colorado was fading in and out. Just a suggestion from a non-rocket scientist... maybe they could could have broadcast the info on ...the radio.

Posted by: Jack | May 22, 2007 5:14 PM

I am on the East Coast and also have 2 receivers. I didn't get an email which would have been very helpful as I didn't know if it was my system or theirs. And the frustration level would have been less. Even when you visit the website, they do have information about the issue, but no date. Thus, how do I know when yesterday is. It could have been Sunday. More details, info sent to your customers.

Posted by: Laurie | May 22, 2007 5:17 PM

My service in Central Pa. is back. I do wish XM was more "customer centric." Yeah, they could have done a better job updating listeners about the outage - just like they should be doing more about the overall sound quality. Mp3s coming off my iPod sound better. Really. Maybe this will be a kick in the pants to start LISTENING to customers. Maybe.

Posted by: SamA | May 22, 2007 5:27 PM

Had the signal going in and out last night on the way home (LA Basin). Worked fine via computer last night. Received the email this morning and everything was fine coming into work today. Only time I've had this happen.

Posted by: Pat | May 22, 2007 5:27 PM

I thought XM was very slow to provide info about the problem. Like me, many subscribers went to the Web when they experienced the outage, and received info about the software problems not from XM, but rather from subscriber forums such as XM411.com or XMfan.com. Any client-oriented business should understand that info is critical - people are willing to wait to have service restored as long as they're provided info about the problem and efforts underway to correct it.

Posted by: XMer | May 22, 2007 5:30 PM

I'm in the L.A. area and I had trouble yesterday, too. Not sure what symptoms others experienced, but, for me, the signal kept cutting out,especially just after passing under bridges and underpasses. Very frustrating!

Posted by: Fancy | May 22, 2007 5:37 PM

I wish they'd sent the email sooner, so I wouldn't have spent my commute home yesterday worried that my antenna and receiver were broken. But I was satisfied as soon as they sent the email and I realized I wasn't going to have to buy more equipment.

But oh, how it hurt not having XM on the way in this morning. Channel 8 was playing all my favorite songs, too.

Posted by: Meg | May 22, 2007 5:38 PM

I'm happy the problem only lasted 24 hours. After being problem-free for at least 2 years, I can't be too angry with XM about this one incident. But as others have noted, what makes it annoying is not knowing whether the problem is the service or your own receiver....

Posted by: RJ109 | May 22, 2007 5:39 PM

I never got an email. But this was nothing compared with losing MSNBC last year!!

Posted by: RJ109 | May 22, 2007 5:40 PM

I feel bad for the XM employees. I don't think the future looks promising, but at least they've had a good run.

Posted by: Ex-M | May 22, 2007 6:17 PM

and i'm still waiting for that email from xm.

Posted by: Bill in San Diego | May 22, 2007 6:31 PM

Never received an e-mail. I had to go the XM website to find out what was going on. It appears XM underestimated the scope of the area affected. The service interruptions were irritating, but now that the problem is fixed, I'm not holding a grudge. But I am seriously thinking about whether I want to enter another long-term contract in light of all the XM-Sirius merger talk -- not that I think there's a chance in Hades of it being approved, so I'm not sure why I'm even thinking about it.

Posted by: Skip in Sacramento | May 22, 2007 7:07 PM

I didn't receive the e-mail either, which is disappointing. On a side note, O&A are talentless Stern clones. I'm hoping XM gets rid of them completely.

Posted by: Cipher | May 22, 2007 8:41 PM

In southern Alabama, I had reception, but noticed that going under bridges and trees would interrupt the broadcast for a second or two immediately, then for another second or two about two seconds later. This had never happened before, so I wasn't surprised to read about the problems in the news today.

Posted by: Dan | May 22, 2007 9:01 PM

Problems during afternoon drive time in Houston - pretty much fixed this morning.

Just a comment regarding not getting an e-mail, as I work in a business that sends blanket e-mails to customers - typically in more situations than not, the reason that folks don't get an e-mail is that their address is not updated with the company.

That being said, I don't really know what capabilities XM has to send e-mails. It's just odd that some got e-mail and some didn't.

Posted by: John D in Houston | May 22, 2007 9:04 PM

I noticed the problems Monday around noon EDT in my car. When I found that the problem was not only on my car receiver but also at home I called XM. I got through to a service rep. who sounded like she was far off in southern Asia and she informed me that there was a problem due to a software update. She said to call back if things weren't better in about an hour, which I did not. I received the e-mail a few hours later. My service returned to normal around noon Tuesday. As for those beating up on XM, I don't have such complaints. This was my first problem in about 18 mos. as a subscriber. However, I agree that announcing the problem on the air and website would have been helpful.

Posted by: Brian in Cleveland | May 22, 2007 10:28 PM

I had just put a new stereo in my car over the weekend and had been listening to CDs since. When I mounted my XM radio in a different spot in the car last night and went to test it and was getting no signal I thought I had trashed my antenna wire. I then tried my wife's unit in her car and same thing, no signal, so I figured it was a tech glitch, not my radio. I realize most people only have one unit so wouldn't have had a way to double check like I did, but personally, I was VERY PLEASED - and relieved - that I received an e-mail saying they were having issues, regardless of the reason why. I don't get e-mails from Verizon or Comcast when their services are acting funky. As a previous comment said, maybe you folks that didn't get the e-mail don't have your current e-mail addy registered with XM...or maybe you haven't even ever given them your e-mail at all to make it possible for them to contact you that way?? HOWEVER...a suggestion would be that they could add a "status channel" to the lineup in case of stuff like this (which would only be of use if the service was at least intermittent of course).

Posted by: Scott in VA | May 22, 2007 10:43 PM

I was pleased to find the email in my inbox at work this morning with the mildly technical explanation. I do wish they could have sent an email earlier than when they did, but I was actually pleasantly surprised that they bothered to send one at all.

Posted by: Jeff in MD | May 22, 2007 11:09 PM

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