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Dave Carroll: United Breaks Guitars

Dave Carroll: United Breaks Guitars

Musician Dave Carroll’s United Airlines flight had just landed when a fellow passenger looked out the aircraft’s window at the baggage handlers and exclaimed, “My god they’re throwing guitars out there!” When nine months of calls and emails to United failed to net Dave compensation for $1,200 of damage to his guitar, he took matters into his own hands and posted his song “United Breaks Guitars” to YouTube. Within days, the video had millions of views (it has since been seen by 150 million people worldwide), and caused a storm of bad PR for United, causing their stock to plunge and costing shareholders $180 million. In his insightful and entertaining presentations, Dave recounts his story while also delving into the importance of customer service, social media, branding, and the power of one voice to make a difference. CTV Atlantic interviewed Dave about the recent public relations catastrophe United Airlines has been facing since forcibly removing a passenger from one of their aircrafts, and the subsequent renewed interest in his famed song:

A viral video of a man being forcibly removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight has led to an online revival of a Maritime song.

Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Dave Carroll says the incident has sparked renewed interest in his public battle with the airline after his guitar was broken on a flight several years ago.

Carroll gained international fame after his song “United Breaks Guitars” was released in 2009. He’s since travelled to 26 countries, sharing his story and speaking about customer service.

“I’ve been getting emails from all over the people, from Australia to Russia, people saying, ‘I love ‘United Breaks Guitars,’ they need a 4th song,’” says Carroll.

Carroll still flies United, but he says he wasn’t surprised to hear about this incident.

“It’s the most dis-compassionate type of a culture that you can have in a company, and I believe that big companies should be way more compassionate and try and see themselves in their passengers, rather than people that they just take money from,” says Carroll.

Carroll says that in an age when everyone has a camera, companies can’t fake it.

“You can’t just have slogans that say you care about people, you actually have to show it, or you’re going to be exposed,”he says.

As people continue to weigh in on how the airline handled the situation, Halifax lawyer Ray Wagner is thinking about how the passenger should respond. Wagner says there could be a number of legal avenues to explore, including use of excessive force and compensation for inconvenience.

“I’d advise him to take action against the airlines,” says Wagner. “There’s a large issue of embarrassment, I think it’s a significant problem for United.”

United’s CEO says he has reached out to the man and the security officer has been placed on leave.

Watch the CTV interview with Dave Carroll here: