We had an idea that the XM/Sirius merger wasn't exactly going to be a win for the customer, and now we hear that XM and Sirius will be offering tiered pricing with plans that are both lower and higher-priced than their current $12.95/month service. Certain "a-la carte" plans will actually come in at a price below existing rates, which should fit the needs of a select few subscribers. There will still be a $12.95 package, with what Sirius described in a federal finding as "substantially similar" offerings to what customers are getting now for the same price. The soon-to-be merged companies will try to build additional revenue with upper-tier packages that will give customers more than what they're getting now, for less than the cost of getting both services.
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, said that the merger could be a "real bad deal" for customers, and with this news, we tend to agree. When the two companies were fighting each other for subscription dollars, they gave us everything they could afford and some things they probably couldn't. If the merger is approved (and how often are they not) the combined company will slice and dice service cable tv-style, and customers will be left to either compromise what they really want in the name of price, or simply pay more for everything. Monopoly is more fun when it's the board game. We're not exactly political activists, but if you think this sounds like a bum deal, you can always send Senator Kohl a note.