When United Airlines baggage handlers broke Dave Carroll’s $1,200 guitar, he didn’t get mad—he got famous. Carroll and his band slapped together a $130 YouTube video titled United Breaks Guitars, which became so popular Oprah mentioned it. United eventually relented, donating $3,000 in Carroll’s name to charity, but the video’s popularity was its own reward—and a lesson for corporations, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The video was the latest proof about the power of social media to turn any customer complaint into a PR disaster in record time. Carroll’s video drew thousands of views within hours, and has thus far been watched 2.8 million times. “It’s a corporate crisis right off the bat,” said one marketing expert. It’s also a reminder to airlines that customer-satisfaction numbers remain atrocious.