Dave Carroll is a regular guy who just likes to play his guitar, sometimes with his band Sons of Maxwell. After baggage handlers at United Airlines broke the shit out of his guitar he became a regular guy who was really pissed off and got a lot of attention. Dave wanted United to pay $1,200 dollars to repair his beloved axe. When United refused Dave got creative.
Before going further, let’s just set the tone. Dave’s guitar wasn’t just any guitar, and United didn’t simply mishandle it. Dave’s expensive Taylor guitar wasn’t just stored incorrectly, it was thrown and he has witnesses. Here’s Dave’s recollection of what happened to his beloved instrument:
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.
United drastically underestimated the impact of telling Dave to go fuck himself. For $1,200 dollars they could have fixed problem. Instead, Dave responded by filming a music video titled “United Breaks Guitars.” His little number has been viewed over 12 million times. That’s not a good thing for the airline. In fact, the video’s impact was so brutal that it dwarfed the views that United had on anything collectively on its YouTube channel, and also inspired detractors to tweet, and leave negative comments on several social media channels, making United look pretty shitty.
For some reason, the customer service experts at United haven’t been hipped to the phrase “The customer is always right.” Instead of fixing Dave’s guitar, they offered him $1,200 dollars in flight vouchers. While that seems like something kind of cool for a travelling musician, it proved to fuck things up for United more than they expected.
Dave booked himself a flight compliments of the guitar throwing maniacs at United, and guess what? They lost his bag. Even worse, Dave was told that he needed to stay at baggage claim and wait for his lost bag to be spit out and spun around the conveyer belt. This never happened that day, and United fucked Dave once again. Dave eventually got his bag days later, but the damage was done.
What was the impact of this fuck up? It’s a lot greater than a social media backlash. According to The Economist, after the incident United took a serious hit. How serious? How does 180 million dollars sound? Shitty right? Here’s what The Economist had to say about Guitar Gate:
The company has lost 10per cent of their share value - a massive $180 million - after being blamed for damaging a musician's guitar.
Let’s lay some blame on Dave. Travelling with a $3,500 dollar guitar, without an adequate road case is rookie move. You don’t hear about a real musician’s guitar being broken in transit, partly because they put their guitars in steel cases that could withstand a gorilla throwing them against a concrete wall. But again, Dave is a regular guy, and he doesn’t have such a case. He does have a guitar that is way too expensive for the shitty music his band, Sons of Maxwell, is playing. Let’s cut to the chase, if you paid $3,500 dollars for a guitar that isn’t a vintage Gibson, Fender, or something known for producing good songs there’s a chance you’re a rock jock gear head, but that doesn’t mean that someone should break your shit. Dave just happens to like overpriced guitars responsible for Dave Matthews and Barenaked Ladies guitar solos.
United could have fixed—not even replaced—Dave’s guitar, but chose to offer him flight vouchers, then lost his bag… then they lost $180 million dollars and looked like complete fucktards to everyone who paid attention. Dave got some fame, attention, and even a book deal. It’s great that Dave stuck it to the man but really, no one cool gives a fuck, having Gene Simmons on his side proves that. Let’s pray nothing bad ever happens to Dave again so he can stop making his whiney videos.