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Stay and Play, OK?

July 23, 2009  

OK. Quick fable: Prior to a trip to Nebraska, Dave Carroll checked his $3500 Taylor guitar with United Airlines. (If you've been online at all recently, you know where this is going.) The guitar suffered serious damage, and Carroll spent months pursuing the issue via the usual channels of complaint—to no avail.

So, what'd he do? He created that cool song and video you've no doubt enjoyed on YouTube. The video, "United Breaks Guitars," generated millions of views in just a few days. Crazier still, on the first day it went live, 950 additional complaints and comments were lobbed in United's general direction, according to Ben Kunz of Thought Gadgets. The video has also gotten play on CNN, the Chicago Sun-Times, Motley Fool and myriad other blogs and online pubs. (The video-viewer count is now well past 3 million.) Ouch.

The bad news: United was apparently painfully slow about responding to the incident. The airline did offer to pay for the broken guitar after Carroll's video went viral, but he declined the money, suggesting United give it to charity. The airline then announced via Twitter that it was donating $3,000 to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz. 

The good news: Taylor Guitars, by contrast, seized the moment. The company posted a response to the debacle on its website, providing helpful tips on flying with a guitar. Taylor's chill founder, Bob Taylor, can also be seen discussing the situation on YouTube.


The Po!nt: And the moral of our story? Stay and play, every day. Keep track of customer conversations—and quickly respond! Sure, people love to complain, but you know what they love even more? Just being acknowledged. Pluck those heartstrings!

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