It seems customer service and the name "Maxwell" just don't mix.
Back in July, I told you about Canadian country act Sons of Maxwell, and its lead singer's attempt to get United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA ) to acknowledge that its careless baggage handlers broke his guitar. Stonewalled at every turn, Dave Carroll wrote a song about the incident, and his accompanying YouTube video, "United Breaks Guitars," now has more than 6.6 million views. Unable to ignore Carroll any longer amid all the digital publicity, United finally agreed to compensate him.
Almost half a year later, it's Sears Holdings' (Nasdaq: SHLD ) turn to buckle to online pressure. According to a story on WalletPop, a dog named Maxwell decided to greet a Sears truck arriving to deliver a freezer -- and the greeting didn't go so well for Maxwell. After Sears' customer-service folks responded to Maxwell's owner with indifference over the tragic incident, the man set up a website, called "Sears Killed My Dog." It didn't take long after that for Sears corporate HQ to call the man with an apology and an offer to reimburse him for the cost of little Maxwell and the freezer.
Say what you want about the owner's responsibility to keep his dog contained when there was a big truck pulling into the driveway. The lesson here is how companies respond -- and often don't respond -- to customer complaints. With the rise of social media -- from Twitter to Facebook to News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) MySpace -- and the immediacy of the Web, companies should know that it's not so easy to blow off customers with casual indifference anymore. When will they learn?
Fool Rich Duprey recently sounded off about his own experience with customer service at Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT ) . But let's hear about your customer-service horror stories, Fools. Has taking your battle online ever helped your cause? Give us your thoughts in the comments box below.