All large corporations claim that they listen to their customers. Of course, most of us have had experiences that proved the opposite.
United Airlines provided a disservice to passenger Dave Carroll by breaking his expensive guitar that was in checked luggage. United's baggage handlers smashed it. Carroll contacted the airline, asking for a replacement. After giving Carroll the corporate run-around for weeks, United refused to pay.
Being a musician, David Carroll decided to take action. He wrote a song describing the incident, recorded it, and then uploaded a video to YouTube. "United Breaks Guitars" instantly became one of the most popular videos on YouTube. After only three days, it had almost 1.5 million views and 10,000 comments, virtually all siding with the band. The story has since been picked up by CNN, NPR, and CBS.
United probably has a multi-million dollar advertising budget, trying to convince the public that the company is a good choice for travel. I suspect David Carroll's low-budget video has demolished United's advertising for at least a year, maybe longer.
It's nice to see a passenger get revenge against the shoddy practices of an airline by exposing what really happens. None of those "friendly skies" were evident in this video!
So far, United Airlines has only issued a one-line statement: "This has struck a chord with us and we've contacted him directly to make it right." A chord? It should strike more than a chord! United needs to make good on David Carroll's request and then needs to immediately publicize its actions widely to demonstrate to everyone that the company can, indeed, react fairly to customer complaints.
You can see Dave Carroll's hit video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo or click on the image below.
I might be just a bit biased in reporting this story. I have traveled all over the world on a wide variety of domestic and foreign airlines and am approaching the million mile mark of air travel. Only once have I ever had any luggage damaged, and it was on... (I'll pause a second to let you guess...) United Airlines.
My suitcase came down the United Airlines luggage chute in Salt Lake City split wide open, dumping my laundry and personal effects all over the place as the remnants of the suitcase traveled down the chute. That suitcase was obviously destroyed, as anyone could see. The locks and even the hinges had been ripped off by the mishandling. The suitcase was nearly new. The trip to Salt Lake City was only the second or third trip I had made with that expensive suitcase. Even worse, I had two broken arms at the time. That's right, both arms were in casts.
I gathered up the suitcase pieces as best I could and dragged them into the nearby United luggage office, where a lone employee obviously involved in a personal telephone call didn't bother to hang up the phone to talk to a customer. He glanced at me, my two casts, and the remnants of my suitcase, then tossed a claim form at me and told me to get the suitcase repaired.
Without waiting for a response from me, the United employee then turned his back and went on talking with his girlfriend or wife or whoever it was on the phone. He totally ignored me as I stood there with two arms in casts, trying to handle the remnants of my suitcase, laundry, and shaving kit.
The suitcase had cost me more than $150 and was totaled by United's baggage handlers. I did later submit the claim form, and United Airlines graciously sent me a check for $25.
I wish I was a singer with the talents of Dave Carroll.
My thanks to Lee Drew for telling me about this video. Please pass this on to everyone you know, especially if they occasionally travel by airlines. If you have a bad experience with ANY airline or any other corporation, write about it online, blog it, sing about it, do whatever it takes to warn others about the shoddy service you received. The only way to change shoddy service is to publicize it and to shame the corporations into making changes. Just ask Dave Carroll.