Published Jul 09, 2009Halifax-based singer-songwriter Dave Carroll owes United Airlines a great debt of thanks. If the company hadn't been as careless with the Sons of Maxwell member's instrument as he claims in "United Breaks Guitars," most people wouldn't have heard of him. He should appreciate that the year of frustration and agony United unduly caused him has resulted in thousands of YouTube spins, press and probably a whole lot of recompense.
As the story goes, he witnessed United breaking his beloved Taylor guitar, which was worth $3,500 and custom-made.
"We were touring last year, over a year ago, going to Nebraska and we had to fly United Airlines, landing in Chicago for a quick turnaround," Carroll told CBC News. "Somebody who didn't know we were musicians cried out from behind me that 'they're throwing guitars outside.'"
Though Carroll witnessed the United employees throwing and in effect breaking his in-case six-string, the airline refused to pay for it. Over the course of nine months, Carroll spent $1,200 and countless hours of grief trying to fix the instrument, as well as have United fess up for its wrongdoing and compensate him.
The airline didn't, so he wrote "United Breaks Guitars" and made a video (see below). In the two days since its posting on Monday (July 6), the tune has been viewed almost 500,000 times. Now, United has reached out to Carroll in an effort to assuage the bad press.
On Tuesday (July 7), United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski issued a statement about the incident: "This has struck a chord with us. We are in conversations with one another to make what happened right, and while we mutually agree that this should have been fixed much sooner, Dave Carroll's excellent video provides United with a unique learning opportunity that we would like to use for training purposes to ensure all customers receive better service from us."
As for how Carroll feels now, he told the CBC that he hopes the song helps everyone who experiences similar baggage woes. "They're talking about changing the culture of customer service. This could end up making a real difference," he said.
Wisely capitalizing on the situation, Carroll notes that "United Breaks Guitars" is the first in a trilogy of songs about the incident/his dealings with the company.
Who says that the average Joe has no voice, huh?