Brianna Petersen

United Breaks Guitars

In March 2008 Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, headed to Nebraska for a tour.  They were sitting in the cabin of a United Airlines plane waiting to take off when Correll heard a woman behind them exclaim, “My God they’re throwing guitars out there”.  Knowing his band was probably the only group of musicians on board, Correll anxiously looked out the window in time to see their instruments being thrown into the plane’s storage.  Upset by the baggage handlers’ carelessness, Correll decided to seek the flight attendants’ help.  After trying to communicate the issue to three separate agents of United Airlines, Correll was told that there was nothing they could do because of the release waiver he’d signed and insurance he’d rejected to buy.

It wasn’t until the next day that Correll discovered the damage on the base of his Taylor guitar.  Determined to have it made right he was sent on a goose chase trying to find someone who would care about his story, let alone do something about it.  Finally, after a year of phone calls and emails he realized that this wasn’t going to get resolved unless he did something drastic.  So, giving United Airlines one last chance, he presented them with an ultimatum.  He told United that unless they replaced his $3,500 guitar he would release three music videos about his experience.

Here’s where United Airlines made their biggest mistake.  Instead of providing good customer service they decided to stick to their “flawed policies,” as Correll put it, and take their chances with his music videos on YouTube.  But neither United nor Correll could have expected the explosion that took place.  Within one day the first video, entitled “United Breaks Guitars,” reached 150,000 views and in three days reached over half a million views.  United then made mistake number two; they contacted Correll claiming they wanted to make things right.  But by then it was too late to save face, now the airline company just looked like it was trying to cover up the problem to keep Dave quiet.

Because of the video, Taylor Guitars had a huge increase in publicity and gave Carroll new products to use in his second video.  Carroll and his band were instantly famous and he has traveled around the country speaking on customer service.  Also because of the incident, Carroll created a motion entitled “Right Side Of Right,” as a sort of eye on customer service with various companies where the public can tell their stories and be heard.

Although Carroll and his band had a right to be upset and something needed to be done about their issues with customer service, I think that the damage done to the airline company exceeded the extremity of the situation.  It’s clear that United Airlines had some serious flaws in their policies and although Correll didn’t sensationalize his story in the songs, the effect the videos had on United was more than what was needed.

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This entry was published on September 8, 2011 at 11:00 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “United Breaks Guitars

  1. joeymck on said:

    Very nice. You have a wonderful flow to your writing. I never felt rushed at all during the reading. You had some good info also. One of the best I have read.

  2. Brianna,
    Great job! I loved reading your thoughts about the United Breaks Guitar incident. You have wonderful writing style and you kept my attention the whole time. You gave me all the information I needed to know and I enjoyed hearing your thoughts at the end. I agree with you that the publicity and damaged caused by the videos was indeed more than what was needed. That just shows how much social media can shape public opinion.
    -Savannah Forsberg

  3. Heidi Justice on said:

    Brianna,
    You got this in the bag, girl! I loved reading this article because I could hear your personality coming out in the paper while maintaining a professional voice. This shows exactly him important PR is for a company and that truly, the customer is always right!
    -Heidi Justice

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