Friday, August 21, 2009

The Video that Got Singer Dave Carroll 3.8 Million Hits on Youtube

Dave Carroll singer of the folk-rock band Sons of Maxwell was on a singing tour of the US state of Nebraska when he looked out from the window of his United Airlines jet to find baggage handlers throwing his expensive guitar around. Being an amateur musician (having tried, tried and tried to learn the guitar, I am now thinking of re-learning this beautiful instrument again) I can understand what he must have felt.

When he asked airline staff to intervene he found them cold and off-putting, and when he arrived in Nebraska he discovered that the guitar was damaged. Over the next year Carroll sought $1,200 in repair costs. The airline bounced him from one agent to the other, giving excuses such as: bring the now-repaired guitar to Chicago for inspection, and, to add insult to injury, ultimately denied his claim.

So, hm, Dave sat down and penned the above song, made a video “United Breaks Guitars” and posted it on The video received 3.8 million views and United Airlines had to relent and decided to pay Carroll $ 3000, who, in turn, asked them to donate it to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz. The End?

No. There’s more.

United is just recovering from this massive PR disaster and plans to use "United Breaks Guitars" for training (Though whether this is training for baggage handlers, customer service representatives, or marketing staff is unclear — maybe all three departments need a thorough overhaul.).

United's about turn has turned the heat on airlines, what with travellers and travelling musicians across US and the world specifically preparing to sue airlines for damaged luggage, lost luggage, and deficiency in airlines services. Some are being compensated, too. Not surprising since United or any other airlines doesn’t want to go through another PR nightmare. Let me hope, when I travel with my guitar (after I have mastered the art, that is) I won’t suffer the same fate as Dave Carroll.

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