View Full Version : United Airlines breaks Guitar Response

02-02-2010, 04:14 PM
This is the ultimate revenge.


Musician Dave Carroll could have sung the blues after United Airlines workers at O’Hare smashed his guitar and the carrier refused to pick up the $1,200 cost to repair it.

Instead, he turned the experience into a witty ditty, “United Breaks Guitars,” and scored an instant hit on YouTube.com, his first in a 16-year career. The video has been viewed more than 502,000 times since it was posted on Monday.

Revenge for this obscure musician and his band, it appears, was best served with a smile and a country twang.

“This struck a chord with us,” said Robin Urbanski, spokeswoman for Chicago-based United. “We are in conversation with one another to make what happened right.”

Carroll and other members of Sons of Maxwell, his Halifax-based band, were changing planes at O’Hare on March 31, 2008, when they heard another passenger exclaim, “My God, they’re throwing guitars out there,” Carroll said.

They glanced out the window in time to see a ground worker toss a bass guitar, which survived intact. But Carroll discovered when he arrived in Omaha late that evening that the base of his $3,500 Taylor guitar had been smashed.

The guitar was insured, covering the costs of a replacement. But Carroll also spent $1,200 to repair the damaged instrument for sentimental reasons – he had composed some of his favorite songs in it.

Over the next nine months, Carroll spent hours reasoning with United baggage agents in Chicago and New York and customer service representatives in India to pay for the damaged instrument. But to no avail.

Complicating matters: He didn’t file a claim within 24 hours, as United requires. Carroll said no United agents had been on duty when his plane landed in Omaha around midnight. He left early the next morning for a tour of Nebraska and didn’t report the damage until he returned to the Omaha airport a week later.

When United rejected his final offer to settle the costs with $1,200 in flight vouchers, Carroll said his anger had long since passed. Rather than fume, he decided to write three songs about United – the first two of which have now been composed.

“This is what I do for a living,” he said. “Why don’t I do this for fun?”

He’s been pleasantly surprised to see the video take off. In fact, he’s even won praise from United’s Urbanski, who said the parody was “excellent.”

Rob Bradford, managing director of customer solutions at United, called Carroll Wednesday to apologize for the foul-up and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally to help change its culture.

“It could be used to improve the way passengers are treated around the world,” Carroll said.