United’s Viral Video Nightmare Ends… for Now


We’ve told you about this story before but here’s the long and the short of it. Dave Carroll is a Canadian musician who was traveling on a United Airlines flight (Stock Quote: UAUA) and found that they’d broken one of his very expensive guitars. United refused to pay for the damage even though Carroll saw baggage handlers throwing his guitar around as he sat on the plane.

So Carroll decided to write a song about it. United Breaks Guitars (U.B.G.) was viral hit with more than 6 million views. But it was just part one of a trilogy, Carroll said. The second song, United Breaks Guitars: 2, wasn’t quite as big of a hit, with just less than 1 million page views to date (though frankly I think that, musically, it’s the best of the bunch). The third tune, United Breaks Guitars 3: "United We Stand", was released yesterday and has just over 8,000 views at this point, and marks the end of this great example of viral/musical comeuppance.  It should serve as a warning to airlines and businesses everywhere that you don’t need to be as famous as Kevin Smith to shame a corporation publicly – though it does help to be talented, as Carroll surely is.

The success of these songs has been life-changing for Carroll. He recently told a blogger at Grand Rants, “The last 6 months have been an incredible change in my life and I’m grateful to the fans of my music both old and new.  I’ve been a professional musician for 20 years before U.B.G. and that fact alone has always made me feel successful. U.B.G. has introduced millions of new ears to my music and so my gratitude seems to have grown exponentially too.”

For Carroll, the point of the last song is to put the United saga to bed, though he takes the opportunity to offer the airline some more brutally honest advice.

“There’s a long line of people with a story like mine who tell me every day, that United needs to change in a big way.”

He continues:

“You say that you’re changing and I hope you do, ‘cause if you don’t then who’d fly with you.”

Carroll says he has since been invited to speak to a variety of companies about customer service and social media, and some are using his videos as teaching tools. Grand Rants asked Carroll if United was using it and what he thought of it. Carroll responded, “They didn’t ask permission.  They told me they were doing that.  I think it’s both funny and necessary.  Many companies around the world are using it as a training tool.  Happily, most have asked permission and are willing to buy a copy for non-home use.”

Oh, United. (Sigh)

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