How many times have you been screwed over by a commercial airline, only to feel totally helpless when they say, "there is nothing we can do?" If you are like me, this has happened to you one too many times. And other than complaining to your friends and family, and maybe trashing the airline on the internet, there literally is no way you can get the airline to compensate you, financially or otherwise, for mangled luggage, missed connections, or ruined vacations.
Last year Halifax musician Dave Carroll and his East Coast Music Association award-winning band Sons of Maxwell had the unfortunate experience of getting their gear trashed by United Airlines. Specifically, Carroll's $3500 Taylor guitar was rendered unplayable by United's ground crew. After getting the runaround from Untied and spending nine months trying to get compensated for the damage, Carroll gave up and decided to extract revenge using his musical talents. He promised United customer service agent Ms. Irlweg that he would write, produce, and release three songs and accompanying videos about his experiences with United, and post them for all of the world to see. You can read about the entire saga on Carroll's web site.
The first video was posted on YouTube on July 6 and it is hysterical! And the tune is quite catchy. Before you point out that Carroll could have purchased another guitar with this amount of money put into making this video, all of the video production was donated. Carroll's goal is to have one million hits on this video in the next year. I cannot wait for songs two and three! Thanks for sticking it to "The Man," Dave!
(Sorry for the weird sizing of the YouTube video. My HTML skillz are lacking and I don't know how to resize it for my page.)
When I posted this yesterday morning the video had 150,000 hits. Right now (9:30am Eastern Time) its approaching 500,000 hits. By yesterday afternoon the Los Angeles Times had picked up this video and reported that United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said that “this has struck a chord with us.” Pun intended? She added that “his video is excellent, and we plan to use it internally as a unique learning and training opportunity to ensure that all our customers receive better service…. This should have been fixed much sooner.”
The video was subsequently picked up by CNN, CBS, and CBC. The Toronto Star had a nice article yesterday too. I sent this video to a family member who is a former United employee, and he said, "I think it is great. I see there is no change at UAL. They could go out of business as far as I am concerned."
Looking at Carroll's Twitter feed, he has interviews lined up today with Toronto's Breakfast Television, Fox Radio, Canada AM (Canada's largest morning show), EZ Rock in his hometown of Timmins, ON, a Chicago radio station, and Global National (another Canadian TV station).
This video would not have taken off had the song not been so catchy and well-written, nor the video so funny and well-done. I crack up every time I see the chalk outline of the broken guitar. I was humming "United Breaks Guitars" all day yesterday, and probably will today too. I hope Mr. Carroll will post the song for purchase, and I hope he gets on Letterman or some other show. Plus, I hope his musical career takes off! I'm ordering his album Perfect Blue pronto ($20 CND from his website, $15 USD from CD Baby, and on iTunes).