United Breaks Guitars | Dave Carroll

Summary of: United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media
By: Dave Carroll


Dive into the captivating story of Dave Carroll, a musician who took to social media to share his experience with United Airlines after they broke his beloved Taylor guitar. In ‘United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media’, Carroll recounts how his viral videos shone a light on the importance of good customer service and the power of online communication. This summary will explore how Carroll’s determination and creativity transformed a terrible experience into a movement that brought about changes in the way companies approach customer service and social media, realizing the significance of treating each individual with respect.

The Power of Social Media

Dave Carroll’s viral video about his United Airlines’ mishap highlights the impact of social media on customer relations. Carroll’s cherished Taylor guitar was damaged by United baggage handlers, and despite repeatedly trying to get compensation, he found the airline’s customer service unresponsive. To make matters worse, he was instructed to call an 800 number to file a claim, which led to several months of dissatisfaction. Carroll channeled his frustration into a YouTube video titled “United Breaks Guitars,” which became an overnight sensation. The video became a social media phenomenon and received millions of views, leading to tremendous negative publicity for United. Carroll’s experience showcases the power of social media in influencing corporate behavior and the importance of addressing customer complaints promptly.

United Breaks Guitars

A customer’s experience with United Airlines’ mishandling of his guitar inspired him to make a viral music video calling out the airline’s poor customer service.

After a frustrating seven-month ordeal trying to get compensation for his damaged guitar, musician Dave Carroll decided to take matters into his own hands. When United Airlines refused to take responsibility for the damage and dismissed his claim, Carroll vowed to make the airline pay by going viral. He wrote a song called “United Breaks Guitars” and made a music video to accompany it, aiming to get one million views in one year.

The song and video were a hit, garnering over five million views and thrusting United Airlines into the spotlight for their poor customer service. Carroll’s approach to using humor instead of anger made his message more relatable and helped spread the video even further. The backlash was severe, with United Airlines receiving major public scrutiny and a drop in their stock prices.

Carroll’s experience shows the power of social media in holding companies accountable for their actions. Companies that prioritize inferior products over customer satisfaction are at risk of being exposed on social media. On the other hand, companies that value high-quality customer service have little to fear. United Airlines’ handling of the guitar incident was a clear indication of their lack of preparation for a customer-service nightmare in the age of social media.

United Breaks Guitars Retold

A talented musician, Dave Carroll, after United Airlines broke his guitar, took to YouTube to document his complaint in a catchy song. The video became an overnight viral sensation. Carroll’s journey from being just another disgruntled passenger to a sought-after media personality and a Change Agent is explained in this summary.

Dave Carroll embarked on a journey that no one ever imagines taking—taking on a major airline after it broke his guitar. After ignoring his complaint, Carroll took to YouTube to share his story. The video sang the catchy tune “United Breaks Guitars,” and it went viral overnight. The video received more than 25,000 views by the end of the day, making Carroll an instant media personality.

Carroll’s frustrations turned into motivation, and he began receiving several media inquiries. Amid the deluge of attention, Carroll realized he needed help. So the leaders of Taylor Guitars, the makers of his damaged instrument, offered him two free guitars and a tour of their manufacturing plant to show support for his positive PR.

Meanwhile, United Airlines approached Carroll with a request for a conference call to review his complaint. The call didn’t go well, leaving Carroll with the impression that United was guarded in their language. United offered him $1,200 in cash and coupons, but by this time, Carroll’s video was a smash. He believed that accepting any compensation would compromise his integrity and opted out. Instead, he suggested that the company could use the money to help another customer in a situation similar to his. Later, he learned that United had donated $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Carroll’s exposure led to an invitation to sing at a music festival in Chicago, flying with United Airlines. It was at this festival where he met with some of United’s executives, finally receiving their apology for his damaged guitar. Carroll’s journey from a disgruntled musician to a force of change illustrates that anyone can make a difference. Carroll’s story is a testament to the power of voicing complaints publicly and redefining the conventional approach to customer service.

The Complicated Relationship

In his book, Dave Carroll discusses how he produced a video trilogy titled “United Breaks Guitars (UBG)” which humorously expressed his frustration at United Airlines breaking his guitar. The second song, UBG2, composed in a “German Oom-Pa Pop” style sang of his nonexistent relationship with Ms. Irlweg, the United Airlines’ customer relations, and how he hoped the airline would change its ways. UBG3 was bluegrass-style themed and admitted Carroll’s resignation to United not taking any action. The videos highlighted the importance of an apology and taking responsibility.

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