Update, including United's reaction, appended
Uh-oh. United is facing a potential PR firestorm, thanks to poor customer service, YouTube and a fed-up musician.
Last year, Dave Carroll and his band Sons of Maxwell were traveling from their homes in Canada to a concert in Nebraska. During a layover in Chicago, Carroll says United baggage handlers severely damaged his $3,500 guitar.
One year later, after numerous failed attempts to get reimbursement from United, Carroll recorded a song about the ordeal and on July 6 posted the video to YouTube. Here are a few lyrics:
United, United, some big help you are
You broke it you should fix it
You're liable just admit it
I should've flown with someone else or gone by car
Cause United breaks guitars.
Two days later the video has clocked 150,000 views—and that has made United more amenable to talking with Carroll.
"This has struck a chord with us," Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based United, told The Herald Chronicle newspaper on Wednesday. “We’re going to contact him directly."
“Struck a chord”? Nice one.
We'll see if United can squelch this in time. I wonder if an airline with a more adventurous communications department—like Southwest or JetBlue—will co-opt this video for their own commercial or Web video.
UPDATE #1: Overnight the video went from 150,000 views to over 466,000 and has so far amassed 3,335 comments.
UPDATE #2: United's Robin Urbanski told the Chicago Tribune the video was "excellent." The Tribune also reported that Rob Bradford, managing director of customer solutions at United, "called Carroll Wednesday to apologize for the foul-up and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally to help change its culture."
"It could be used to improve the way passengers are treated around the world," Carroll told the Tribune.