Book Review: United Breaks Guitars

When I picked Dave Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars” to read, I wasn’t aware of the viral videos that went along with his story. I’m kind of shocked I didn’t – millions of hits, music videos, where the heck was I for this? I chose to read it simply because when I saw Hanson in June of last year they were complaining about how the airline broke one of their guitars (although I think in their case it was actually American, though my memory may be tricking me.)

The story is that Dave is a musician and was traveling and while on the plane another passenger commented out loud that they guys on the tarmac were throwing guitars.  Turns out it was his bands guitars and one of them was damaged by the trip.  When Dave questioned United about it, he was told that was what he signed a waver for (except he was given no waiver) and no one really gave a crap about him or his guitar.  Gotta love that customer service, right?

Dave decided that he would not stop until his issue was resolved and after numerous emails and phone calls he realized United wasn’t going to do much so he decided he was going to write 3 songs about the issue and see what would happen then.

The video went viral and Dave became an overnight sensation with everyone from CNN to Letterman wanting to have an interview with him. (Some of which didn’t work out for whatever reason.)

The book talks about the incident with United, how he tried to resolve everything first with United and his “threat” to write these songs about United.  Then it goes in to his thought process with writing each song and deciding what it would be about and what genre it would be.  But it also talks about social media and how valuable of a tool it is for companies as well as consumers because it is so easy to get the word out there about new products or in the case of a consumer bad products and bad customer service.

Dave’s career has now taken off, he is an artist and author and a public speaker. You can find out more about Dave at

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in order to write this review.

About the Book

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 in checked luggage. After eight months of pestering the company for compensation, he 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 its launching, the first million people had watched “United Breaks Guitars.” United stock went down 10 percent, shedding $180 million in value; Dave appeared on outlets as diverse as CNN and The View. United relented. And throughout the business world, people began to realize 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 book, you’ll hear about how Dave developed the “just do it” philosophy that made him the ideal man to take on a big corporation, 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 learn how companies should change their policies and address social-media uprisings.

Since “United Breaks Guitars” emerged, nothing is the same—for consumers, for musicians, or for 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.


Dave Carroll is a singer-songwriter and social media innovator from Halifax, Canada. Following his 2009 YouTube music video release called “United Breaks Guitars,” about his poor customer service experience with United Airlines, Dave’s career blossomed and he is now a highly-sought-after performer, content creator, author, keynote speaker, and consumer advocate.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :