Musician Dave Carroll recently posted a video on YouTube after United Airlines refused to take responsibility for one of its employees’ having wrecked his Taylor guitar.

In his last conversation with the United Airlines Customer Relations Manager, Carroll said he would make a music video to expose the airline’s lack of cooperation. The manager replied, “Good luck with that one, pal.”

Carroll didn’t need luck. He needed, and had, creativity–and the Web. His video has received almost 6 million hits. United Airlines contacted him and tried to settle. The quid pro quo: pull the video. Dave replied, “Good luck with that one, pal.”

Taylor Guitars sent Carroll two new custom guitars in appreciation for the product recognition from the video that led to a sharp increase in orders.

United probably should have taken responsibility. I say “probably” because I haven’t read the fine print about what they take responsibility for and what they don’t. But there’s an issue here that also bears looking at: how much responsibility can a firm take when it is forced, literally, to deal with a union that protects its members from taking responsibility? Had United been able to identify the employee who wrecked the guitar, would United have been able to fire him? I doubt it.

H/T to Jeff Hummel.