United Breaks Guitars & Our Hearts

There has been a lot of news about United Airlines lately and not all was positive, to say the least.  As consumers, we expect some type of quality when it comes to goods or services and when it’s not delivered, it’s disappointing.

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So, what’s happening? Let’s dig in…

In 2009, professional musician Dave Carroll was awarded $2,400 in cash and flight vouchers to ‘make right’ a situation, which his guitar had been damaged during a flight transfer in Chicago’s O’Hare airport in full view of passengers seated on a plane.  Imagine the frustration!

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After 15 months of trying to rectify the incident, Dave Carroll decided to take matters in his own hands when a customer service representative told him that United concluded the case was closed and the damage was Dave’s responsibility.  Again, the frustration!

Dave Carroll responded in the best way he knew how: through music.  He replied that he would be composing three songs about his experience and posting them to YouTube, a well-known video-sharing site.

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Dave Carroll posted his first video to YouTube on July 6, 2009, along with a blog entry detailing the ordeal and a Twitter post on his account linking to the video.  Within a week, the video had over three million views; as of this writing, over 18 million views.  On July 8th, United Airlines finally reached out to Dave, offering $2,400 in compensation.


While this was a win for Dave Carroll & marketing in general, United needs to bring the focus back on its customers by taking a more consumer-oriented approach with additional training and focus less on corporate strategy.  Doing so may not win back consumer trust overnight, but it’s a good start.

If you were CEO of United Airlines, how would you save the company after their recent PR crisis?  Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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With a passion for writing, photography, & all things digital, Diana is working on her Master's degree in NYU studying Integrated Marketing with a focus in Marketing Analytics.

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