“United Breaks Guitars’ spawns complaint site” (Tiffany)

I thought this was worthy of sharing since we covered this in class last week 😀

‘United Breaks Guitars’ spawns complaint site

A Canadian songwriter who became famous for slamming United Airlines in a cleverYouTube music video that went viral, has helped start an online complaint website this week.

Dave Carroll, 43, of Nova Scotia, wrote and sung the humorous protest video “United Breaks Guitars” in 2009, after United’s baggage handlers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport broke his $3,500 Taylor acoustic guitar, and the airline wouldn’t pay for it. The YouTube video, produced for $150 with friends as actors, has had 11.5 million views since it was posted July 6, 2009. It earned Carroll numerous mentions in the media, including CNNCBS’ “The Early Show” and Oprah. 


“My career instantly exploded in all directions on July 7,” Carroll said in an interview Friday.

Many of the estimated 10,000 e-mails Carroll received in the two weeks following the video’s posting on YouTube asked him for help with other customer-service problems. “Clearly, I couldn’t write a song for everybody, but I started to think about how I could help,” he said.

After an attempt at creating his own complaint website failed because he didn’t have the right skills, he said, Carroll teamed with a venture capitalist and website developer to cofound a new complaint website, Gripevine.com, which officially launched this week.

Gripevine.com claims to be “the first online social media platform for consumer-complaint resolution.” Carroll said the site doesn’t want to be a complaint board or brand-bashing site but a place where companies can get documented complaints from consumers and try to resolve them. The sites includes a “dashboard” for companies that would also monitor social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to gather complaints about their companies. The site is free to consumers, but companies pay for subscriptions to “manage their reputations,” he said. 

“It’s all about the resolution,” he said. “In my case with United, I spent nine months inside the frustrating customer-service maze, and it only made me angry. … The positive ripples of resolving these complaints will improve the world. It’s really a fair approach to bring the two sides together.”

Eventually, United Airlines compensated Carroll by donating $3,500 in his name to support music education through the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Further, United ended up paying Carroll a one-time licensing fee to use his video in its customer-service training, Carroll said. The idea to be compensated by United for use of his video came fromWhoopi Goldberg who asked him about it when he was a guest on the talkshow, “The View,” he said.

Since his YouTube video, Carroll has become a professional speaker on the topic of customer service. His book, “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media” is due to be released in May. And he is soon releasing a new music CD unrelated to customer service. 

Carroll said he has turned down far more opportunities than he’s accepted. For example, he received an e-mail from a man in China who was a fan of the YouTube video and wanted to commission him to write another one. “I said, ‘what’s it about?’ He said, ‘My wife’s having an affair with a restaurateur from Las Vegas and I want you to expose it.’ “

So, will Carroll attempt to recruit United Airlines as a customer at Gripevine? “Oh yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I think they would be wise to do it.”




About internalmarket

This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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