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United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media [Hardcover]

Dave Carroll
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 July 2012

Songwriter Dave Carroll wasn't the first person abused by an airline's customer service. But he was the first to show how one person, armed with creativity, some friends, $150 and the Internet, could turn an entire industry upside down.

United Airlines had broken Dave's guitar after his luggage had been checked on one fateful day. After eight months of pestering the airline for compensation, Dave turned to his best tool - songwriting - and vowed to create a YouTube video about the incident that he hoped would garner a million views in one year. Four days after launching, the first million people had watched 'United Breaks Guitars'. United stock went down 10 percent, shedding $180 million in value; and Dave appeared on television to tell his story. United relented. And throughout the business world, people began to realise that 'efficient' but inhuman customer-service policies had an unseen cost - brand destruction by frustrated, creative and socially connected customers.

United Breaks Guitars has become a textbook example of the new relationship between companies and their customers, and has demonstrated the power of one voice in the age of social media. It has become a benchmark in the customer-service and music industries, as well as branding and social media circles. Today, more than 150 million people are familiar with this story.

In this fascinating book, Dave will tell you how he developed the 'just do it' philosophy that made him the ideal man to take on a big company, what it felt like to be in the center of the media frenzy, and how he's taken his talents and become a sought-after songwriter and public speaker. And businesspeople will also learn how companies should change their policies and address social-media uprisings.

Since Dave's story came to light, nothing has been the same - for consumers, musicians or business. Whether you are a guitarist, a baggage handler or a boardroom executive, this book will entertain you and remind you that we are all connected... that each of us matters, and that we all have a voice worth hearing.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hay House UK (2 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401937934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401937935
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

In July 2009, Dave Carroll shared with the world the first of his United Breaks Guitars (UBG) trilogy. Since then millions of people around the globe have resounded Dave's poor Customer Experience and thousands of have communicated with him about their own Good, Bad, and yes, even Ugly (GBU) customer experiences. Today he travels the world with his music and his inspiring lectures. www.davecarrollmusic.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, entertaining and easy to read!! 16 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I bought it when I was doing research for a big online social media course I am writing and producing at the moment. My intention was to learn a bit more about the story behind the broken guitar - if I am mentioning this story as an example it's helpful to have the facts from the book.

My view of the power of social media is very much in line with Dave's and he is describing his view of the world in a wonderful way. I also recommended all my friends to listen to his song 'Now' on YouTube. Great piece of music.

If you would like to get to know more about the song UBG came about you must read this book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and well written 28 Sep 2013
By Pete
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very entertaining, well written and interesting. Not so sure it would be useful to people trying to replicate the success of the United Breaks Guitars video series but certainly shows why customer service is becoming so important in the Information Age.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Back in 2009 the story of Dave Carroll's broken guitar saw the share price for United Airlines take a big hit as he took to YouTube with a very funny and effective film about how badly the airline had treated him and his guitar.

Illustrating the frequent close interaction between social and traditional media, the YouTube clip generated widespread TV news and newspaper coverage, reaching a far wider audience than the original online one and fuelling further views of the video which in turn encouraged more media coverage in a (for him) virtuous circle.

Dave Carroll was, however, not really just an ordinary customer of United Airlines but in fact a musician far more talented than nearly all of us, with access to a network of skilled people and facilities to turn a song into a professional music video on a zero budget.

In other words, rather than being the story of how social media lets one ordinary person strike back, it was more a story of social media let one highly talented person garner massive media coverage. A different world certainly, but not quite the all new, everyone is equal level playing field some social media evangelists slip into describing.

In a similar, smaller scale way I had a similar experience that reflects these inequalities. In the last year both Stephen Fry and myself have been on Qantas flights that ran into serious problems. Both of us tweeted about them. One became a major story and one did not. I think you can guess which is which.

All this made me turn to Dave Carroll's book about his experiences with interest, to see how these issues appeared to him from the inside and how he sees the mix of relations between traditional and new media.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And now you know... the rest of the story 14 Jun 2012
By PT Cruiser - Published on Amazon.com
For anyone who has ever had luggage or personal belongings destroyed by an airline without being properly compensated or perhaps not even acknowledged, this story is a triumph. The youtube video, "United Breaks Guitars" has been viewed by over 12 million people as of today and Dave Carroll gives us all of the 'behind the scenes' details about how the video was conceived and how it grew into a life of its own. Imagine, one guy from Halifax, Nova Scotia on a music gig for his band, "Sons of Maxwell" who when landing in Chicago. has the unfortunate experience of being told by people across the aisle on his United Airlines flight, that the luggage handlers are throwing around guitars while unloading the plane! This made the blood run cold of every musician on board who had checked a guitar before boarding. The rest of the story is history.

This book is all about the events on the United flight and the aftermath with all the red tape Dave Carroll went through trying to get reimbursed for the damaged guitar (Unbelievable, the hoops they tried to make him jump through, like flying back to Chicago to fill out paperwork!) and then lots of details about making the first and then second and third youtube videos. It tells about Taylor Guitar contacting him and inviting him to their plant in California and letting him choose two guitars to take home with him. He tells about speaking engagements afterwards and other opportunities afforded him on the basis on this video and the larger story. I found it to be very inspiring that there IS a way to make one small voice heard. He also examines how companies can make social media good for, and relevant to their companies. It's interesting to note that while United Airlines seemed to resent the attention and tried to ignore the whole thing, Taylor Guitars took advantage of the publicity about their guitars and expanded on it to their advantage.

There are 16 pages of color photos in the center of this book, photos of Dave, his family, his friends and of making the videos. Dave also includes the lyrics to his three UBG songs and a few others in the back of the book. There is one, Now that I was instantly drawn to and bought the mp3 on Amazon. It's in my cloud now and I'm listening to it as I write this review. (You have to go and at least listen to a sample of this song!) I'm grateful to Media Connect for providing me with a review copy of this entertaining and inspiring book.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice background on the video 19 May 2012
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on Amazon.com
I love the song United Breaks Guitars. It's catchy and the video is hilarious, especially the "funeral," the chalk outline on the ground and the guy acting like a baseball catcher.

I thought the video must have cost a ton of money, but it turns out Dave Carroll had gotten his friends to volunteer. He had some high-powered help with mixing the music and editing the video, but he didn't pay them.

What's especially interesting is the way he wrote the song. He wanted to go viral so he deliberately chose a country beat and a simple chorus refrain.

Is Dave really a humble guy from Canada? Well, Canadians in general tend to come across as low-key and unassuming. He's an entertainer who knows how to gain center stage; as he points out in the book, he was already a successful musician when he wrote this song. He managed to earn a good living and toured all over the world.

At the same time, this book isn't especially deep. It's more like a magazine article. He didn't go into any kind of analysis or even discussion of others who took similar routes, using media, such as Kevin Smith.

I suspect he'll be signing thousands of copies at his speaking engagements. He deserves everything he's got. Sure, he got lucky with the song, but he worked hard to become a speaker. He wouldn't keep getting these speaking engagements if he couldn't do a good job.

I'm not sure how you'd like it if you don't know the song, but it was a fast fun read for me.

Incidentally, I just shipped my dog from Seattle to Philadelphia. One service recommended United as being pet-friendly. Really? I couldn't hep remembering this song and I went with Delta.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Broken Guitar Changes Business History 6 July 2012
By Bryan Carey - Published on Amazon.com
Have you ever had a bad customer service experience? I would bet that every person asked that question would answer in the affirmative and many would add that the response they received was less than satisfactory. But what if the unpleasant experience involved damaged merchandise? This would certainly take things to a new level and this is exactly the experience of the author of this book, United Breaks Guitars. His prized instrument was damaged by United Airlines and he sought some type of resolution, only to be sent around in circles and never receiving the resolution he desired.

The author went on to write a song about his experience and it turned into an internet sensation. This book is about the song, the sequels to the song, and the overall experience with United Airlines, culminating in the author's new career as a social activist and speaker. A broken guitar started everything and the problem, had it been handled properly, would have been settled and put to rest. But United failed to take responsibility for its actions, leading author Dave Carroll to write a song and create all sorts of bad press for United as a result.

The best part of this book is reading about the author's ordeal and, ultimately, the positive response and outcome, not just from a resolution standpoint, but also from the standpoint of social activism. The author was already a musician, so he was not a complete unknown, but he was far from being a household name. The situation with United changed his life forever and the song's popularity exceeded his wildest dreams. Today, Carroll gives speeches on customer service and his experience has captured the imagination of consumers everywhere.

United Breaks Guitars is a personal book, but it doesn't get too personal and I like that the author knew when to say when. Many authors of books like this spend considerable time explaining their own life story, even when it has no real bearing on the book. This book offers only a small amount of background and then gets on with the story, explaining the sequence of events from the mishandling of the guitar to the many interactions the author has with United personnel as he tried to seek some sort of retribution.

I like this book's ability to show what one person can do in the age of social media and it is great how the author was able to achieve so much with the simple posting of a video. If I had to find something to criticize, it would be the book's lack of analysis and depth. It would have been nice to read about other highly- publicized customer service issues and read some compare/contrast analysis along with some more discussion on customer service in general. Instead, the book just talks about the basics of the event and leaves it at that. It leaves you wanting something more, but it is still a good book in its own way.

Customer service annoyances are common and we can all relate to the frustration experienced when something goes wrong and a business fails to resolve the problem. United Breaks Guitars is a good read about a man and his experience with a broken guitar, a video, and a newfound career as a spokesperson for customer advocacy. It shows that one person can make a difference today, in the age of social media.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 8 May 2012
By Pete Gifford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the book very much. It's good to finally get the full story of Dave's damaged Taylor and the mess United caused by not taking care of the individual consumer. Actually, it's a good thing they didn't. Otherwise, we wouldn't have the songs and Dave would probably be a fireman by now. The story shows the true power of social media and of quality content in social media. Keep it up Dave!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph for us all. 9 May 2012
By Susan G. - Published on Amazon.com
The story behind the famous United Breaks Guitars video is an entertaining read. After Learning more about Dave Carroll it is readily apparent that more than simple luck was working in his favour. He helped transform YouTube from a showcase for piano playing cats into a respected tool for social justice .He pointed to the back of the ball park and then ... hit a home run. I liked the book !
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