“My god, they’re throwing guitars out there.”
With those fateful words from a fellow passenger, Dave Carroll’s life and career told an unlikely detour.
The crippling of the Canadian musician’s beloved Taylor guitar at the hands of United Airlines baggage handlers became the stuff of folklore. And, improbably, resigning his $3,500 guitar to checked baggage proved the most unlikely of career moves.
Let’s go directly to the video:
Conclusion: “I should have flown with someone else; or gone by car — because United breaks guitars.”
After nine months of the runaround from United, Carroll was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it.
“I’ve heard all your excuses, and I’ve chased your wild gooses,” he sang. “And this attitude of yours must go.”
Carroll and his band made the wry video above, uploaded it to YouTube in 2009, and it went viral. After a month, it had been viewed 5 million times. United had a PR problem.
The airline preferred to switch than fight, and asked the guitarist for permission to use his video for training. But Carroll wasn’t done:
“We don’t need to fight,” he sang to the airline. “If you just come to your senses, accept the consequences … ” It did, offering to pay for the damage. (The money went to music education.)
Seeking to deliver a happy ending, the “United Hates Guitars” trilogy was completed:
“Now I’m done being mad at United. Essentially they broke my career.”
“But there’s a long line of people with a story like mine, they tell me in an email every day.”
and then time for some self-parody …
“This guy’s out of control”:
The “United Breaks Guitars” cottage industry brings us a Dave Carroll book about dealing with customer service; Dave Carroll personal appearances offering an “extraordinary experience” — and maybe “a custom song and video”; a branded Dave Carroll guitar case; and a Dave Carroll web site that says “more than 150 million people are familiar with this story.”
Carroll continues to spread his gospel of successful dealings with customer service issues without being a total dick.
and finally …