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United Breaks Guitars Video by Dave Carroll

26 July 2009 One Comment
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United Breaks Guitars Video – Dave Carroll

If you have not already heard, a young musician named Dave Carroll wrote and produced a music video called “United Breaks Guitars” after his Taylor 714 CE ($3000+ guitar), was broken by the United Airlines Baggage crew and United refused to pay or replace his instrument. Dave Carroll had saved money to purchase this guitar for three years with the hope that once he graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa he could pursue his pro music aspirations.

United Breaks Guitars Video Goes Viral!

His video immediately went viral as millions of viewers shared and viewed his music video. He has become a citizen hero to all travelers. When Dave Carroll called in, he kept being transferred to different people unable to get his issue addressed. Then finally when he did reach someone who could have helped, United refused to pay for the instrument. This is despite the fact that another witness on the plane clearly saw the baggage crew literally tossing the guitar and is quoted as saying “My God, they’re throwing guitars around out there!”

Carroll had heard that remark but didn’t connect the dots as he was tired from already traveling for 12 hours. He had carefully protected his guitar in placing his hardshell guitar case into a foam bag. The next day when he opened the guitar case he found it caved in. “I put my hand around the back of the guitar, around the tail pin, and felt that it had just caved in. I probably swore… and what do you say when your guitar caves in like that? There was a silence, and I just put it back in the case.”

He called United but kept getting routed to different employees. He took it to a guitar shop hoping to get it fixed. It cost him $1,200 to fix the guitar but for those who know guitars, the guitar clearly was never the same again.

With the video going viral (currently at 4.1 million YouTube views), United did finally relent and offered to pay for the guitar. They issued this statement: “While we mutually agree that this should have been fixed much sooner, [Dave Carroll’s] excellent video provides us with a unique learning opportunity that we would like to use for training purposes to ensure all customers receive better service from us.”

United Breaks Guitars Video by Dave Carroll

Dave Carroll’s Intentions with United Breaks Guitars

Dave Carroll has said that when the incident occurred he was angry, but the song he created wasn’t meant for revenge, but is a “light-hearted song, and the idea is to find humor in a situation that is to tragic and happens too often”. Dave Carroll did not accept the offer from United, neither from Taylor which kindly offered to provide him a brand new instrument. He has benefited personally from the attention as he was able to sell a few hundred CDs. His mom helps pack the discs into envelopes to ship them out at home. He has also been offered to do gigs in different locations.

Dave Carroll has said that United should find “someone who is a musician, and might not have the money to fly for medical reasons, and just give them the money to give them a lift — no pun intended. I thought that would be a fantastic idea”.

United ended up choosing to give $3000 to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, an educational organization which among its board of trustees is the United managing director Sonya Jackson. Well, at least they gave it to someone.

Future United Breaks Guitar Videos

As the “United Breaks Guitar” was originally announced as a 3 part series everyone is waiting in anticipation for part two and three. With the extra publicity, there has been more volunteers to help him shoot the videos. Here at Clean Cut Media, we’ll post the other two once they go public.

United Breaks Guitars – Statement from Dave Carroll

Influence of Social Media & the Shifting of Influence

A story like this is not uncommon. There are numerous stories where a consumer who was upset, utilized the web to let the world know how they were treated. When these stories pick up enough steam the accused company has to step in for public relation reasons. This puts a lot of pressure on companies to keep their consumers happy and treat them well. However it also puts a lot of influence and power on the shoulders of the consumer, forcing companies to allocate resources just to make sure an incident like this does not happen. It is a fascinating dynamic that has spawned from the social networking power of the web. With the ability to share one’s story with millions both in the medium of postings or in this case, a well made video, it makes it very easy for a consumer to heavily damage the reputation of a company. It is easy to side with the consumer since the consumer is indeed the little guy, but let’s also remember that many are unlike the kind-hearted Dave Carroll. Out of anger or a personal vendetta, a single consumer can embellish stories and fabricate rumors that even if they are discovered to be unfounded could put a heavy dent into a companies reputation or image resulting in drops in sales and ultimately loss of jobs. The power of the internet as a medium of communication is powerful, but as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately when anyone can access that power (especially those motivated by anger), the outcome becomes unpredictable.

  • What are your thoughts on the video?
  • Has the internet been a huge win for consumers as a single person can make a huge impact on the dealings of a large corporation? Or is it too damaging for companies for the consumer to have so much influence?

One Comment »

  • Jo Holloway said:

    I think it’s great that the “little man” has been empowered by the internet in this way. If companies behaved better, morally and ethically, and returned to the old policies of respecting the customer, they would only feature in positive ways. Seems to me Dave lost not only his guitar, but a huge amount of time and stress, and has ended up producing a hugely amusing video that makes the rest of us “little people” who have ever been done out in similar ways, feel just that bit better that one of us hit back. I like his attitude, too – not revenge, just pointing out the error of their ways. Good one, Dave! Oh, and – you don’t sing half bad either. Hope you go far! (But not on United …)

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