Karma Comes Back to Bite United Airlines (who apparently breaks guitars)

In: marketing| viral

8 Jul 2009

dave_carroll_united_breaks_guitarsI had just posted an article regarding karma and then United Airlines delivers a perfect example of what NOT to do.

Musician Dave Carroll flew United about a year ago. Somewhere along his trip his $3500 guitar was broken. He immediately complained to three flight attendants, who all couldn’t be bothered. Over the next year, he complained to and dealt with several different company representatives up and down the corporate food chain. Nine months later, he finally received an email from a Ms. Irlweg stating that United will not offer any type of compensation or replacement. They didn’t deny damaging the guitar, but rather based their decision on the fact that he didn’t speak to the right people at the right time. But the story doesn’t end there.

Mr. Carroll decided, as a musician, he had one last resort. And he even informed United of his intentions beforehand. In his own words:

In my final reply to Ms. Irlweg I told her that I would be writing three songs about United Airlines and my experience in the whole matter. I would then make videos for these songs and offer them for free download online, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song.

My goal: to get one million hits in one year.

And, of course, United ignored him. So he wrote and posted his first song, United Breaks Guitars. The video has gone viral and has been viewed, commented on, and shared all around the web. He says a second is almost done, and a third is on it’s way.

Wouldn’t you know it, now United has now announced that they “contacted him directly” to “make things right.” They could have saved themselves the effort and the bad press from just taking care of Mr. Carroll’s problem at the start of this mess. And it would definitely be cheaper than whatever they are going to agree upon now.

With the airline industry as competitive as it is, no carrier needs this type of negative publicity. The Internet gives every customer a great big megaphone to attack you when they are mistreated. So do right by others, and they’ll do right by you.

United Breaks Guitars (backstory)
United Breaks Guitars (video)

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Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.