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October 30, 2009
Now Dave's on the Lecture Circuit, and United Still Messes Up

What dark PR gods up there in the skies are haunting United Airlines when it comes to Dave Carroll? First, United baggage handlers broke his guitar, and the airline made him a Web celebrity by not compensating him for the damage. Now, reports The New York Times, it lost his bag while he was enroute to an appearance in his new role as a speaker on customer service. (The bag contained his best shoes and CDs of his hit video performance, "United Breaks Guitars".)

For more than an hour Sunday, Carroll was told by United he had to wait at the international baggage claim area at the Denver airport (he had arrived from Saskatchewan, Canada) while United hunted for his bag. United told him to stay put while federal customs officers told him to leave, and the bag never showed up -- until Wednesday morning.

Yet another United Airlines spokesperson, Robin Urbanski, said, "We will fully investigate what regretfully happened."

Does anyone here the strains of a new Dave Carroll video welling up from his or her YouTube connection? The original one, "United Breaks Guitars," has drawn more than 5.8 million views.

Seriously, the lesson in the Dave Carroll/United saga is that every customer counts, all the time. Who knows how an unacknowledged miscue that gets corrected quickly can rebound on an unwitting company or service provider?

At the meeting of customer service representatives to which he was headed, many hands went up when Dave asked members of the audience if they had similar service problems.

“It crosses all income levels and languages and geographies,” he said. “We all don’t like feeling disrespected or insignificant.”

We thank Ragan Communications for noting The New York Times report.


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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