I was just browsing a story over at the Consumerist website reporting that in the first half of 2012 United Airlines has accounted for nearly one third of consumer complaints lodged against airlines in the united states. This reminded me of one of my favorite "gone viral and bit you in the ass" internet stories, Dave Carrol's "United Breaks Guitars" YouTube video. If you haven't seen it allow me the pleasure of making the introduction:
Long story short, Mr. Carrol was flying United airlines with a $3k+ Taylor guitar as checked baggage and the guitar was severely damaged but because Mr. Carrol failed to file his complaint within 24 hours United refused to accept any liability in the incident. After about nine months of grinding his way through United's corporate bureaucracy stonewalled at every step Mr. Carrol told the customer service rep assigned to his case that if he was a lawyer he'd sue them but he was a song writer so he'd write a song. The song and the video went viral in an astounding way gaining mainstream media attention and inducing United to resolve his complaint.
Small victory perhaps, but it's fun to think that a song (and video) could gain enough traction to compel a huge conglomerate to change it's mind.
Here's a presentation Mr. Carrol made at the Columbia Business school about his experience what he gained from it.