Oops. United Airlines Did It Again

I remember hearing this story about the guy who got his expensive Taylor Guitar broke by United Airlines, so he wrote a song about it.  United didn’t break his guitar again, but this time they sent his baggage on a wild goose chase.  This from the Bozeman Chronicle:

Greg Gianforte is in the business of customer service. “Our mission is to rid the world of bad experiences,” said Gianforte, the founder and CEO of RightNow. But even he can’t keep things from going haywire all the time.

When the guest speaker at a RightNow conference last week in Colorado Springs, Colo., flew in from Canada on United Airlines, his bags didn’t follow until three days later.

And while airlines misplacing luggage happens from time to time, this speaker happened to be the poster child for companies’ need to cater to customers, and consequences when they don’t: Dave Carroll.

Carroll posted a video on youtube.com called “United Breaks Guitars” after his $3,500 Taylor guitar was damaged by baggage handlers on a flight with his band Sons of Maxwell in spring 2008.

After his guitar was damaged, Carroll started carrying his instrument on the plane, rather than risk damage at someone else’s hands, so he was able to take the stage to start the conference and join the Sons of Maxwell for a concert to finish it, despite his tardy luggage.

The conference introduced RightNow customers to different forms of social networking and how businesses can benefit from the use of Internet tools, including Twitter and YouTube: Exactly what Carroll did to take charge of the situation with his guitar. The video, by the way, has more than 5 million hits.

Gianforte explained how the story of Carroll’s most current run-in with United was immediately broadcast through the use of Twitter on attendees’ mobile devices and gained international attention as Carroll was interviewed onstage at the conference.

“Five years ago, it would have been tough luck Dave,” Gianforte said. “Now it’s tough luck United.”

More coverage last week at New York Times, and around Canada.

Wish I would have looked Dave Carroll up earlier. The Halifax singer-songwriter has got some pretty good twang. I see his band runs the Celtic festival circuit, too.  Not sure I would trust his luck with my luggage…

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