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United Is Happy to Answer Your Complaints After You Humiliate Them

'United Breaks Guitar' Video a Smash YouTube Sensation

By Published on .

Before I get into this, let me just say that the below video and song are excellent -- and not just viral-video excellent but excellent-excellent. As in, even though it's about an airline breaking some guitars and not doing right by the customer, I could see myself downloading the tune and just listening to it because it's catchy. (Even Charlie Moran, who's a much harsher judge of things musical, likes it.) So good for Sons of Maxwell.

Long story short: Sons of Maxwell take a United Airlines flight. United employees smash up the guitars and -- do I really need to finish this? According to the L.A. Times, which is quoting band member Dave Carroll's website (which is currently down), Carroll asked for some sort of recompense and, naturally, was forced to wander the customer-service desert for 40 years before being told he hadn't filed his complaint at the right time, in the right place, using the right tone of voice and, sorry, beat it.

So he and the band made a video. Which is now being passed around because a) the song is catchy and b) everyone who has ever flown hates airlines. And now, of course, United wants to make things right, telling the L.A. Times the video has "struck a chord" with the company and that the video will be used in internal training. That's probably a smart move.

Listen, this isn't a problem unique to United Airlines. This happens with companies in every sector -- which is why The Consumerist never has a shortage of blog fodder. You should be addressing consumer complaints the right way during the very first round. The folks in the plane should have done something. The first rep Carroll talked to should have done something. Hell, the company could have started by not hiring goons to handle the luggage in the first place.

It's always nice when these stories have a happy ending. But it shouldn't take public humiliation for a company to do right by its consumers. And keep in mind that for every Dave Carroll out there, there are thousands of upset and frustrated consumers who don't have the musical talent and video savvy to make a video to embarrass a company into doing what's right.

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