Case Analysis: United Breaks Guitars

What happened between United Airlines and musician Dave Carroll?

  • Carroll’s $3500-dollar guitar was damaged by United Airlines baggage handlers and was witnessed by other passengers.
  • United policy required customers to report claims within 24 hours of the flight, however, Carroll was on tour and nowhere close to an airport.
  • After 9 months of battling with customer service, Carroll decided to on a new course of action and made 3 music videos telling his story.
  • The videos went viral, and United Airlines offered the Carroll $1,200 and a flight voucher of the same amount which he rejected and asked them to make a donation instead.
  • The action taken by Carroll to post his videos on social media made caused United Airlines massive loss due to PR damages.


How did the videos reach so many people so quickly?

  • Carroll was very active on social media and had many loyal followers who were willing to spread the word.
  • The videos were propagated on both offline and online media platforms.
  • Media promoted the incident creatively, which made it more appealing. For example, “Times of London” gave this story a heading “The gathering thunderclouds of bad PR caused United Airlines Stock price to suffer a mid-flight stall, and it plunged by 10 percent, costing shareholders £180 million.”
  • Hundreds of news reporters repeatedly aired the story, making it spread faster.

What are the practices that corporations should take to prevent and deal with similar situations?

  • They must be able to foresee problems that are associated with PR damages and be prepared with an action plan.
  • They should take responsibility for their clientele’s complaints since failure to act upon these complaints can adversely affect their business.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s