“Rule #1 of Public Relations: Don’t [mess with] creative people”

As if this video needs any more publicity (sorry United Airlines!).  I bet the majority of you have already heard at least one of Dave Carroll’s ‘United Breaks Guitars’ songs, but somehow I’d missed them up until now.  I mean, I had heard a little bit of the story way back when, but for some reason I only decided to look it up tonight, for the first time.  I went to the youtube video expecting to hear a song that was spiteful and immature, but instead came away really impressed by the tact (and skill) with which Mr Carroll presented the story of his ordeal.

In case you haven’t heard anything about this already, Dave is a (Canadian!) musician who flew one day from Halifax to somewhere in the states, with a stop-over in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.  While waiting in the plane, one of his bandmates and another passenger witnessed the United Airlines employees out on the tarmac literally throwing guitars around.  According to the story, Dave immediately brought this to the attention of 3 employees (flight attendants I presume) who responded with indifference.  When Dave arrived at his destination, he opened his guitar case to find that the guitar had, indeed, been busted up.

Thus began the epic saga of dealing with United’s apparently less-than-stellar customer service department.  To make a long story short, the airline refused to pay for the $1200 in damages to his Taylor guitar (for those who don’t know, Taylor is one of the best brands out there).  He went back and forth with them on tha matter for a year, but because of some details concerning when and where he first brought the issue to the attention of the airline – other than the initial complaint from within the plane – they said no dice.  As a result, Dave vowed to write a trilogy of songs about how United Breaks Guitars.  If you start with the first one, you will find the equally entertaining 2nd and 3rd songs by clicking on the links in Youtube.

This whole ordeal reminds me a bit of my Kitchenaid (Whirlpool Canada) story: regardless of technicalities regarding who was at fault for an item being damaged or misplaced, there is no excuse for poor customer service.  If it’s something like an employee being rude to you one time, that may be forgivable, but when it’s actual company policy that restricts their employees from providing high quality customer service, then your company has got a real problem, especially in the era of social media.  By the way, I emailed a link to that blog post directly to Kitchenaid/Whirlpool Canada customer service, and never received a response .  Not one word.  Just thinking about that company irritates me.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy those videos, they really are quite good.  All I have to say is, “Well done Dave, you couldn’t have said it any better”, and I’ll second one of the comments from the youtube video for United Breaks Guitars 3: “Rule #1 of Public Relations: Don’t piss off creative people.”

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