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Musician wrote a diss track for an airline after they broke his guitar and it had surprising results

After United Airlines refused to pay for his broken guitar, a musician wrote a diss track that sort of became a training manual for the company.

Musician wrote a diss track for an airline after they broke his guitar and it had surprising results
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Dave Carroll

This story is over a couple of years old when a diss track titled "United Breaks Guitars" acclaimed worldwide popularity after it was posted on the @sonsofmaxwell YouTube channel. Now, it has been 14 years and it still might have the same impact on the administration of United Airlines as it did in 2009. The funny diss track has over 23 million views and Canadian musician Dave Carroll, who composed and sang it, triggered a wave of adjustments that United Airlines needed to bring in the department of luggage handling


According to Marketplace, Carroll posted his song titled: "United Breaks Guitars" to poke fun at how his guitar was damaged due to the poor handling of the cargo transport at the airport in 2008. As the song started to gain popularity, United Airlines lost 10% of its market value, costing shareholders roughly 180 million dollars. This music video aimed to make fun of United Airlines initially marked a turning point for accountability to domestic and global customers who were affected by the poor customer service of the airlines in the same way.


For the new generation who are clueless about Carroll and his hit song, the whole fiasco started when Carroll was flying from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Omaha, Nebraska, with his band, Sons of Maxwell, to play at a show. "When we got to Chicago to deplane and catch our connector, a woman behind our bass player looked out the window and said: 'Oh my God, they're [United baggage handlers] throwing guitars outside,'" Carroll revealed per the outlet. Trying to get help from a United Airlines customer service agent was also ignored. Upon reaching Omaha, Carroll unlocked his guitar case to discover that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had sustained serious damage.


"For nine months, I tried to get the airlines to take some responsibility," he said, but the United Airlines ignored his issue. In the end, he had an email conversation with a certain Ms. Irlweg, who informed him that the airline was not responsible for the damage. It is where he lost his cool, but instead of suing the airlines, Carroll had a musical solution to his problem, which sufficed as a fitting reply to them. In just a few hours, he wrote the "United Breaks Guitars" song, which was recorded and a music video was filmed with the help of his friends from the music and film industry. Carroll assembled a small cast and crew to star in his video and film it, which included filming at a fire station's parking lot where Carroll volunteered.


He sent the finished video to his 400 Facebook followers and requested them to watch it. When he woke up the next morning, Carroll realized his video had exploded on the internet and the view counts kept soaring. United Airlines tried to settle the matter in their own way when things got out of hand and Carroll received a lot of media attention. They offered him $1,200 in flight vouchers and $1,200 in cash. "For the past ten years, I've been traveling the world and telling the story; I've spoken in over 30 countries," Carroll revealed about his fame. "I still fly United. They say to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer."

Representative Image Source: Pexels | 
Pascal Borener
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pascal Borener

"I think it changed everyone's (life). 'United Breaks Guitars' was an early sign that in this new digital world, one customer can affect the profitability of the world's biggest brands on a budget of, in my case, $150. Companies now are listening much more closely than they ever did before, consumers are feeling more empowered and every customer can have a voice even if he or she can't sing," he concluded. By 2024, Carroll has produced and posted two more songs in a "United Breaks Guitars" trilogy.


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