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How a musician plummeted United Airlines stock after it refused to pay for his broken guitar

This music video would go on to redefine customer service in the aviation industry and also became a part of the training manual.

How a musician plummeted United Airlines stock after it refused to pay for his broken guitar
Cover Image Source: YouTube | SonsofMaxwell

Dealing with customer service agents itn't always that easy. Sometimes you get so frustrated you feel like giving up. One musician probably had the best response ever to an unresolved customer complaint. Musician Dave Caroll, wrote a diss track to get back at United Airlines, who allegedly broke his guitar by mishandling it. The video went viral and cost the airline quite a huge chunk of money and reputation as customers across the world united over the video. It broke the internet then and is still making rounds now. It has also changed the way companies provide customer service quite a bit as per


Several news sources covered that within five days of the musician posting his video, the airline's stock dipped by 10 percent of its total value. The song "United Breaks Guitars" captures the harrowing experience Caroll had with the airline. The musician shares that he boarded the flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Omaha, Nebraska with his band "Sons of Maxwell." He was horrified when he witnessed the crew members throwing his guitar while loading the luggage. The musician said, "When we got to Chicago to deplane and catch our connector, a woman behind our bass player looked out the window and said: 'Oh my God, they’re [United baggage handlers] throwing guitars outside.' I asked her what she said again, and she said it the same way and it sounded as bad the second time she said it.” He also reached out to customer service executives at O'Hare but was brushed off.


When the musician reached Omaha his worst fears came true when he opened his guitar case. His Taylor guitar, worth $3500, was badly damaged. The musician had saved for quite some time to get the guitar, only to have it broken. As it was late at night when the incident happened there was no one at the service desk but there was a customer service helpline number. From there, the musician tried to reach out to them for over nine months but his call bounced from department to department with no clear answers. He was even told that he'd need to file a complaint in person in O'Hare even though he lived several miles away and wouldn't be able to make it. He also found a repair shop that agreed to fix his guitar for $1200. But when he eventually managed to speak to a representative from the airline to pay for his guitar's repairs, the person told him that he was too late and should have filed the complaint the next day. 


Frustrated by his experience the musician wrote three songs narrating his experience with the help of friends and musicians to create a video. The video garnered over 19 million views on the internet and changed the way the airline tackled customer service. As per Inc., the incident is considered to be the biggest PR disaster of the decade. Eventually, the airline reached out to Caroll to pay for $1200 and the musician's track became a manual for everyone on how to communicate effectively with customers. As per the outlet, the airline even went the extra mile to help a passenger in 2013 by delaying a connector flight so this person could meet their ailing mother. 


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