United Breaks Guitars

This lovely little ballad was apparently the summer jam of ’09 while I wasn’t looking. David Carroll recounts his harrowing experience of witnessing the destruction of his guitar and then having to wade through the sea of red tape of indifference that is United Airlines. I’ve not quite had a $1200 guitar smashed by United, but I can definitely relate.

Right after I had proposed to Sara, before either of our families knew about our plans, we first had to check in with United at LAX. We weren’t sure which line to get in because our flight connected in San Francisco. Some flights were delayed, people were getting impatient, and any and all concerns were met with rising crescendos of “Sir? Sir! SIR!!!” The staff looked like they would lock us up as enemy combatants at any moment.

Long story short, we muddled our way home, but I’m not surprised that Mr. Carroll had this kind of experience. Now that this video has had over 7 million views, United says that they’ve changed their tune. They plan to use this video internally to address problems with customer service. I wonder if they’re really going to make the switch, or if they’ve just found a more charming way of berating employees.

David Carroll’s song is funny and true to life. But if United plans on using this song as a training tool without giving their workers the freedom to use their judgement and high enough wage to give a crap, then it will be no more effective than the volumes of airline humor that came before.

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