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.

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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.

 

 

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