Summary of United Breaks Guitars

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United Breaks Guitars book summary


7 Overall

6 Importance

8 Innovation

7 Style


The power of social media became amusingly apparent in 2009, when United Airlines refused to compensate Canadian singer and composer Dave Carroll for a guitar that the airline’s baggage handlers had broken. Frustrated at the company’s lack of respect and responsiveness, Carroll decided to take the high, creative road; he lampooned United’s behavior in a series of three musical YouTube videos. The results were millions of online hits, an embarrassed airline and new lessons in the annals of customer relations. Although United finally offered Carroll restitution, the damage was done – and Carroll’s saga became a classic example of how not to handle an unhappy customer. If you’re interested in Carroll’s life, charming song and music career, this is the book for you. Those wanting a more in-depth discussion of social media’s impact on corporate communications may want to look elsewhere. Still, getAbstract recommends Carroll’s story to public-relations professionals and anyone else eager to know the basics of United’s now-famous case of musical-instrument abuse. And for fun, catch the three videos, as well.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How United Airlines broke musician Dave Carroll’s guitar,
  • How United failed to address Carroll’s grievance,
  • How Carroll used social media to call attention to United’s failure and
  • How companies should connect with their customers via social media.

About the Author

Dave Carroll is a musician, composer and – since United Airlines broke his guitar – passionate consumer-rights activist who speaks on issues of customer relations.



“Oh My God, They’re Throwing Guitars Out There”
In the spring of 2008, musician Dave Carroll embarked on a plane trip that changed his life and led him to write a fresh chapter in the history of customer relations. Traveling on United Airlines from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Omaha, Nebraska...

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