“United Breaks Guitars” is a trio of protest songs by Canadian musician Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline.
Musician Dave Carroll said his guitar had been damaged by baggage handlers at Chicago’s O’Hare airport last year. He alerted three employees who showed complete indifference towards him when he raised the matter in Chicago. Carroll filed a claim with United Airlines which informed him that he was ineligible for compensation because he had failed to make the claim within its stipulated “standard 24-hour timeframe”.
Carroll says that his fruitless negotiations with the airline lasted about nine months. Then Carroll wrote a song and created a music video about his experience. The song’s refrain includes “I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car, ’cause United breaks guitars. Carroll, who has performed as a solo artist and as a member of the group Sons of Maxwell, wrote two sequel songs related to the events.The second video, “United Breaks Guitars: Song 2” was released on YouTube on August 17, 2009. The song takes a humorous look at Carroll’s dealings with “the unflappable” United customer service employee Ms. Irlweg, and targets the “flawed policies”. In March 2010, “United Breaks Guitars: Song 3” was released. The song notes that not all employees at United are “bad apples.” The final line of the trilogy of songs is, “They say that you’re [United] changing and I hope you do, ‘Cause if you don’t then who would fly with you?”.
The video received millions of hit on you-tube. Media reported the story of the song’s instant success and the public relations humiliation for United Airlines. Rob Bradford, United’s managing director of customer solutions, telephoned Carroll to apologize for the foul-up. United mentioned it hoped to learn from the incident, and to change its customer service policy accordingly.
It was widely reported that within 4 weeks of the video being posted online, United Airlines’ stock price fell 10%, costing stockholders about $180 million in value.
In fact, UAL opened at $3.31 on 6 July 2009, dipped to an intra-day low $3.07 (-7.25%) on 10 July 2009 but traded as high as $6.00 (+81.27%) four weeks later on 6 August 2009.
Source: United Breaks Guitar