“United breaks guitars”

9 07 2009

TaylorGuitars LogoMore than impressed by the efforts fellow Canuck Dave Caroll who posted a video on YouTube a couple days ago singing about how some United airlines ground crew workers seriously damaged his prized Taylor guitar. The video has quickly picked up steam online, gotten mainstream press on the other side of the pond and created a bit of a headache for United Airlines.

united_logo1According to the Canadian Press: “Carroll spent the past year trying to get compensation from United because he says his favourite guitar was practically destroyed by baggage handlers.” When he got nothing, he made the following video:

The song is actually pretty funny, and reminds me a bit of the ‘world’s best passenger complaint letter‘ to Virgin that made the rounds on the internet back in January.

A story in the Chicago Tribune says that Carroll “spent hours reasoning with United agents in Chicago, New York and India” over a nine-month period to pick up the $1,200 cost and it went nowhere. So he took action. In Carroll’s word (via his YouTube channel):

I promised the last person to finally say no to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

I wouldn’t want to be Ms. Irlweg right now.

Apparently Taylor Guitars in California has since got in touch to say they’d be happy to see if they could “repair the damaged guitar and they promised a deep discount on his next purchase.” Well done Taylor (but how about a free guitar for Dave?)

Though United has they ‘liked the video’ and wanted to use it as ‘textbook case on how to handle customer complaints in the future’, they still come off a bit battered from this. Some attempts have been made through their Twitter account to say sorry to their 15K followers but I can’t help but think the damage may well be done.

Ben Mutzabaugh on USA Today’s ‘Today in the Sky’ probably said it best: “The move shows just how quickly the Internet can help a disgruntled customer can turn the tables on a company and its effort to manage its public image.”

At the time of writing, the video has received over 500K views on YouTube. That’s an awful lot of people with the message ‘United breaks guitars’ stuck in their head.

Better get Tweeting some more United…