Friday, July 10, 2009

United makes careers . . .

Just a few days ago, a new viral video exploded onto the YouTube scene, getting over a million hits in just four days. It's not a new celebrity sex tape or the latest trailer for the new Harry Potter movie: it's a little video produced by a singer/songwriter named Dave Carroll about his unfortunate experiences with a major airline carrier.

That's right, I'm talking about "United Breaks Guitars"; if you haven't heard about it or seen the accompanying video, you've probably been living in a hole for the last few days. The story goes like this, and it's pretty familiar to anyone who's ever had the misfortune to fly with a huge airline and have a problem with their luggage:

On a recent flight with a connection in Chicago, Carroll and his band witnessed United employees--ahem-- "transferring" their luggage from one plane to the next, and saw them tossing several guitar cases across the tarmac. They were horrified and worried for their instruments, and sure enough, on reaching their destination they found that Carroll's guitar had sustained $1200 worth of damage.

Now, Carroll did what most of us would have done: he called United to complain and ask for recompense for his losses. After many, many months of getting the run-around from United, he was finally given an answer: "No."

So, instead of setting them on fire, which any reasonable person might have wanted to do at that point, Carroll expressed his frustration in the medium he knows best: he wrote a song about it. Four days and 1 million hits later, United has called Carroll up, not only to apologize profusely, but to ask him for permission to use his song and video as a training aid for their employees. That's some shrewd tap-dancing, United.

I think Carroll should agree, and instead of asking for his $1200, which United now seems willing to pay, he should ask for a royalty every time the video and/or song is played in training United employees to be more sensitive. It's only fair; after breaking his favorite guitar, United should give Carroll the first hit of his career.

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