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United Breaks Guitars

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United Airlines Song Background (short version)

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no†to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.

Full Story

As of today:

Guitarist and United dickering, video viewers snickering [updated]

This just in on the case of United Airlines, a busted guitar and a wicked YouTube song: While Dave Carroll, aggrieved customer and wicked songwriter, was playing a gig Tuesday night in Picou, Nova Scotia, his July 6 video, “United Breaks Guitars,†was passing 100,000 views and United airlines was laying plans to make nice. But there’s no happy ending just yet.

“They have made contact with him,†said Carroll’s wife, Jill, on Wednesday morning. “We’re expecting to receive further details by the end of business today.†By 11 a.m. Pacific time, the video had racked up more than 137,000 YouTube views and prompted 1,265 comments, few of which are likely to end up in the airline’s next report to stockholders.

Dave Carroll, buried in interview requests, was unavailable, but Jill Carroll described the conversation with United as “amicable†yet inconclusive. As for the public response to her husband’s video, “we’re speechless.â€

Carroll posted his video — which features a country-western arrangement, layered harmonies and, for unclear reasons, three sombreros — after he couldn’t get United to take responsibility for damage to his guitar allegedly inflicted during a flight last year. After months of getting nowhere in efforts to get compensated, Carroll crafted a retribution campaign featuring a sequential release of three songs.

Beyond the first song, which went up on the Web on July 6, Carroll has written and recorded a second song, but hasn’t made a video yet. As for the third song, Jill Carroll quoted her husband:

“They have a golden opportunity to influence the outcome.â€

On Tuesday night, United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski declared that “this has struck a chord with us, and we’ve contacted him directly to make it right.â€

[updated, at 1 p.m. July 8: On Wednesday, Urbanski added that "his video is excellent, and we plan to use it internally as a unique learning and training opportunity to ensure that all our customers receive better service....This should have been fixed much sooner."]

— Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times staff writer


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Good for him. I suspect United didn't expect this when he said he'd write a song about it. 028ws9.gif

maybe next time just bring it on the plane; or drive...

Too big to be carry on I imagine, Air Canada would'nt let me carry mine on anyway and sure driving is an option, although it's a good haul (3000km give or take) from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Omaha, Nebraska. But, then again thats not really the point.

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It's not the worst place for them to send money:

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a nonprofit education organization, was founded in 1986 by the Monk family along with the late Maria Fisher, an opera singer and lifelong devotee of music. Its mission is to offer the world's most promising young musicians college level training by America's jazz masters and to present public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world. All of these programs are offered free of charge to the students and schools.

The Institute's programs fill a tremendous void in arts education caused by public school budget cuts. They strive to help children develop imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image, and respect for their own and others' cultural heritage.

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Halifax singer takes guitar-smashing tale to Washington

Halifax singer-songwriter Dave Carroll will be on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to tell a hearing on airline passenger rights how United Airlines scrunched his expensive guitar and wouldn't compensate him.

Carroll will speak at an airline passenger rights hearing looking into problems with how U.S. airlines treat the flying public. Organizers have been given permission to hold the hearing in a congressional hearing room.

"It will look, smell and act like a real congressional hearing," said Kate Hanni, executive director of FlyersRights.org, a sponsor of the event.

"This is the chance for many victims to speak," she told CBC News. Her organization is supporting legislative proposals that would allow someone to deplane after three hours of extended tarmac delay. Hanni said she founded her group after being stuck waiting in a plane for almost 10 hours.

Carroll's appearance is meant to underline his concern about the special needs of airline passengers with fragile baggage — especially musical instruments.

Viral sensation

His flying ordeal has become a viral sensation and a textbook example of how a single customer complaint can become a public relations nightmare for a company.

In the spring of 2008, Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, were travelling from Halifax to Nebraska for a one-week tour when he says they noticed United Airlines baggage handlers throwing around their instruments on the tarmac in Chicago. He later discovered that his $3,500 guitar had been severely damaged.

Carroll said United didn't deny the incident occurred, but wouldn't compensate him. After many months of emails and baggage claims went nowhere, Carroll said he told a United official he would write three songs about his experience with the airline and post them online.

Song No. 1 was called United Breaks Guitars, and the video quickly became a page of internet history. It has been viewed more than 5.5 million times on YouTube and has prompted more than 22,000 comments, many from people telling their own horror stories about airport baggage handling in general and United Airlines in particular. Song No. 2 was posted last month and has garnered more than 300,000 views. The final song in the trilogy is to be released in the fall.

United officials eventually offered some compensation. They said they're now using Carroll's videos as training exercises for new employees.

As a prelude to the Tuesday hearing, Carroll and his band will be performing their United Breaks Guitars songs Monday night at a restaurant in Washington.


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