PhotoSome companies are organized into departments that aren't very well connected. As a result, one department often doesn't know what's happening in another. Michelle, of Oakdale, N.Y., is convinced Sirius XM is one such company.

“Since July 11, 2011 I have been trying to get Sirius XM Radio to credit my account, Michelle told “The company cashed my check on July 11 but never credited it to my account. I have been harassed by emails, phone calls and billing statements. Even my parents who do not have the same email or phone number have been getting emails and calls. I have tried to get Sirius to stop calling and emailing them but they do not. I have spoken to representatives and managers numerous times and never get a straight answer. I have even mailed them the information they requested as well as tried to fax the information but the fax number never works. I have tried to get a corporation number but Sirius tells me that there is no number. I have been told by several managers that they do not even have a phone number that they have to email their corporate office. When ask to speak to someone higher up they tell me that they are in a meeting. I have been dealing with this issue and just want it resolved. I am paying for a service and being harassed by Sirius that I have not paid.”

It does sound like Michelle needs to escalate. Sirius' media relations phone numbers are here . The corporate office in New York can be reached at (212) 391-0774. We're sure they would love to hear about Michelle's problem.  Or maybe not.

Getting results

Speaking of getting results, it takes persistence, intelligence and wit to get a big company to listen and give you what you deserve, and it can be done. We were frankly amazed by the review submitted this week by Alexis, of Tamarac, Fla., who reports being put through an excruciating ordeal by Vizio's customer service department when she sought to repair her TV that was still under warranty. Finally, after emailing the company's IT Director, CEO and head of public relations, Alexis said she got results.

“The next morning, I received a call from someone at Vizio who identified himself as Harley,” Alexis said. “It was not necessary to send more pictures, he told me, he would personally be overseeing the matter, he already was in the process of making arrangements for a TV repairman to come out to my home. He said that the process would take 7-10 days as they had to procure an expensive part. Why, I asked him, do you pre-suppose that a part would be needed or even which part? He answered, oh, we already know what the problem is, it's happened before.”

Alexis said she emailed the three Vizio executives to personally thank them for intervening on her behalf, and says she hopes her experience will benefit others. The takeaway lesson is to not allow yourself to be blocked out by customer service personnel but to go straight to the top.

Feeling wrung out

Andrea, of Malta, N.Y., is another unhappy owner of an expensive washing machine.

“I purchased a Whirlpool Cabrio in 2009,” Andrea told “It worked so-so over the years but recently stopped completing cycles, citing false load balance errors and leaving towels and sheets sopping wet a the end of a cycle. Three repair appointments later, and still no success. I am thoroughly disgusted that such an expensive machine only lasts four years. Based on the service tech's attitude toward the machine and other consumer comments, I'm guessing I will have to replace it.”

Andrea says she spent $250 in repair costs but she might try another repair person before giving up on her expensive washer. A second opinion never hurts.

Holding on to her money

Getting a refund from a big company these days is like getting blood from a turnip. They just don't want to write a check. Jacqueline, of San Antonio, Tex., says she overpaid her Citibank card account by $600.

“When I closed the account, I made sure that I double checked all the numbers for the last 12 months,” Jacqueline said. “Unfortunately for me I had overpaid this account and now I cannot get them to answer me on my request for a refund. I have sent two letters and am now sending a third letter after several months.”

If Jacqueline has a statement showing the credit, or other documentation that shows Citibank owes her money they have thus far failed to repay, she should sue them in small claims court in San Antonio. The company will quickly refund her $600 rather than send a lawyer to Texas, only to lose anyway.

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