Sunday, August 23, 2009

Guitars Break United Airlines (or at least bend them a bit)

I appreciate it when an artist shames a big big beaurocratic organization into realizing that they can't get away with bad policies. I don't know if United Airlines' policies will change, but David Carroll of the band Sons of Maxwell have certainly made the airline pay attention after baggage handlers broke his Taylor guitar. For almost a year, Carroll, tried to get some compensation, only to be put off repeatedly. Finally, he asked United to compensate him for the repair of his guitar with airline vouches. That offer was rejected. Carroll wrote,

At that moment it occurred to me that I had been fighting a losing battle all this time and that fighting over this at all was a waste of time. The system is designed to frustrate affected customers into giving up their claims and United is very good at it. However I realized then that as a songwriter and traveling musician I wasn’t without options. In my final reply to Ms. Irlweg I told her that I would be writing three songs about United Airlines and my experience in the whole matter. I would then make videos for these songs and share them on YouTube, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song. My goal: to get one million hits in one year.

Carroll did better. The first video went viral. You can read the first part of the story here and the continuation here. You can view the videos themselves here:

United Breaks Guitars Song 1

United Breaks Guitars Song 2

While Carroll would have preferred that his Taylor guitar had never been broken in the first place, I'm pleased that he was able to take the experience and turn it into something bigger than himself. I am tempted to start humming "United Breaks Guitars" the next time I deal with a difficult airline policy and mention casually, "By the way, I'm a songwriter."


Lone Star Ma said...

Rather wonderful tactic.

tanita davis said...

Singing instead of suing. I'm all for it.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

I still love this story. I thought you had posted about it before, but I guess you had kicked about it, and I went and listened. So great.

Minh said...

that's great!

i'm about to get on a plane with my guitar in a few weeks. It's not a Taylor, but I was still a little worried... hopefully those videos have had an effect on other airlines too.