United Airlines customer ratchets up revenge campaign
LONDON - A disgruntled United Airlines customer who has received massive media coverage by making a music video about baggage handlers breaking his guitar is about to release a second ditty, which covers how United stonewalled his complaint.
Canadian professional musician Dave Carroll unleashed his attack on the airline in the format of humourous country song 'United Breaks Guitars' on YouTube on July 6.
It became a viral hit, which brought him to the attention of the mainstream media in the US, and now the UK, where he did eight back-to-back TV interviews yesterday.
This has now driven views of his video up to 3.8m and comments on it to 17,700, many relating to similar bad experiences with United.
Some reports claim the criticism caused a 10% fall in United's share price, although that may have more to do with Wednesday's warning from credit rating agency Standard & Poor's that it could downgrade its rating of the airline's debt.
United, which originally rejected Carroll's compensation claim for the spring 2008 breakage at Chicago O'Hare airport, has reacted to the media's sympathy for his cause by donating $3,000 to a music charity and saying it would like to use his video for training baggage handlers.
However, Carroll is continuing with his original plan of making not one but three videos about his saga of attempting to complain about the breakage.
His second video will be about Ms Irlweg, the United Airlines employee who finally turned down his request for compensation, though he says he will not be unkind to her.
But Carroll's motivation is probably now financial as well as retaliatory. 'United Breaks Guitars' has become the biggest hit in his career; for example it is now the number one country download on iTunes UK.
United may be wishing it had the PR nous of Virgin Atlantic, which faced a similar publicity storm after the internet leapt on a comic complaint by a passenger about his "culinary journey from hell" in January. Founder Sir Richard Branson responded to the complainant by phone to discuss his issues with his airline meal.
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