Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"United Breaks Guitars"

Ouch! This is what's classified as a "PR Nightmare" in business... a polite little Canadian artist named Dave Carroll tears a big strip out of corporate giant United Airlines, smiling as he does in his professionally made music video that's gone viral on YouTube. He launched the video on Monday, and it's recorded over 1.6 MILLION views in four days... and he's averaging 30,000+ hits an hour at the moment.

It's gone international too... being covered here by CBC, Global & CTV, down in the States on CNN, BBC over in Europe, along with various media outlets all the way down under in Australia. Here's the CNN clip...

Having had my own little PR battle with an airline recently, and having been moderately successful (they met my demands halfway), it's nice to see someone being able to turn a negative situation into something really positive for himself, and really negative for a slow moving and unresponsive behemoth like United Airlines. So many companies still have yet to clue in that CUSTOMER SERVICE is huge, and if you don't work to meet the reasonable expectations of reasonable customers who have legitimate complaints, such as a smashed guitar, you're bound to get burned in the long run... normally just via word of mouth, but as we see in this case, it could end up being a PR nightmare.

So, the moral of this story is... sometimes it's cheaper to swallow the $1300 repair bill, rather than now having to fight a massive PR battle with potentially tens of thousands of dollars of manpower and company resources.

And as for companies that have a good reputation for customer service in my books, I like Rogers on their Home phone and internet side (though I've had issues with their wireless divisions), and Telus Mobility for their cellular Customer Service. Several times when I've called them with an issue, they've gotten it fixed, and have found some reasonable means of compensation. Telus was the best though, my cell was dying, battery was shot two years into a three year contract. The guy on the phone arranged to cancel my existing contract, and opened things up for me to sign on to a new two year deal with a new phone. Rogers Home Phone did something similar, they'd messed up my billing so bad that I was ready to cancel on them and go back to Ma Bell. Anyway, the guy on the phone saved the day by arranging for several months of free phone service. THAT's how you keep customers.

As for poor examples, well, there's always my infamous U-Haul incidents... yes, that's plural. Like the time I booked a truck, and never got one, PERIOD. Or the time my mother-in-law booked a 26' truck, only to be told THE DAY OF that there wasn't one available, but she could use one of their 17' ones... FOR TWICE THE PRICE. Or the time I was moving my stuff back from New Brunswick, and my truck broke down ONE HOUR into my trip... that was a four hour delay on that one. Might have had to do with the fact that the truck was due for one of it's major service checks that they hadn't bothered to do. Oh yea, and did I mention that it was leaking diesel the whole trip? Then there was the time I was moving my buddy's stuff back from Halifax for him while he was on his honeymoon, and we got pulled over for inspection by the MTO, who noticed a tire was leaking due to the fact that they'd tried to plug the sidewall instead of replacing the tire... which was a MAJOR safety hazard, in his opinion. (some little concern about a potential rollover due to a blowout at 100kms/hour if I hit a pothole the wrong way...) Yea, that was another four hour delay. Each and every time, I talked to U-Haul with some reasonable requests, like covering my cell usage while I called for service, or a night at a hotel after I'd been stranded at the side of the road for hours and wasn't going to make my destination on time. Only ONCE did they ever cough up the dough... $12 for an oil pan to catch the diesel fuel while I was parked. (At least I still have the oil pan) Another time they offered up $200 in vouchers for my "next reservation", which I did end up using for my one and only successfully uninterrupted move... which is somewhat ironic, the only one that didn't have a major incident was the only one I didn't pay for! Another time I managed to get $40 in vouchers, which were then used by someone else. Anyway, there's lots of reasons why U-Haul is the WORST company to deal with when it comes to "customer service"... of which they have pretty much NONE. So my last move? Went with Kelly Car & Truck Rental, and it was a piece of cake.



  • At Fri. Jul. 10, 11:39:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Paul MacPhail said…

    That Dave Carroll tune is rather good, regardless of the fact that it's a true story. I've recorded the YouTube version as an MP3 for my ipod and have been playing it for customers in my taxi. It's not just the talk of the town, it's the talk of the continent. Visitors from the US are talking about it. As for U-Haul, I think it's short for you-haul-them-into-court to get satisfaction. My Sister and Brother-in-law were nearly killed when the front tire came off their rental when they were driving down a mountain (towing their car, no less) in Ontario. They were recording the drive home on their camcorder, and for the first time since I've known him my Brother-in-law used language that would make a sailor blush (I think he even came up with some new words!). Then their trip got worse. I'd sooner move by wheelbarrow than trust U-Haul.

  • At Sat. Jul. 11, 07:03:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger B. Kennedy said…

    A plugged sidewall?!?

    Nobody who knows anything about tires - or vehicles in general - would EVER plug a sidewall damage. No matter how inconsequential, once the sidewall's damaged, the tire is done. Has to be scrapped. Can't even be recapped.

  • At Sat. Jul. 11, 07:25:00 a.m. EDT, Anonymous Dave Hodson said…

    You're one very tolerant customer. After the first experience you had, I doubt very much I'd have ever given U-Haul a second chance with any future business. You gave them about four chances and they screwed up every one of them?


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