Sunday, April 9, 2017

United Breaks Guitars. But Priceline Breaks Contracts.

You've probably heard Dave Carroll's story.

He's the musician whose $1,200 guitar was broken by United Airlines baggage handlers.

Dave tried for nine months to move the company to honor his claim. But United said "No," because he'd failed to submit the claim within 24 hours of the incident.

So he wrote and recorded a song, "United Breaks Guitars," and uploaded it to YouTube.

After only 150,000 views, United contacted Dave and offered to pay the claim if he'd delete the video.

Dave instead produced and uploaded two more, related songs, at which point the media picked up his story. He did over 200 interviews.

Then, the song parodies and knockoffs started, and millions of people learned to sing "United Breaks Guitars." On one flight from Newark, New Jersey, the passengers sang it in chorus as the plane taxied to the terminal.

Within three weeks, the company's stock plummeted by 10%, a decrease in value of $180 million.

A week ago, my wife and I tried to board a flight from Washington, DC, to London, using tickets we'd purchased for $1,200 six months earlier through Priceline, only to learn the company had cancelled the tickets.

When I called Priceline from the airport, I was told it had indeed cancelled the tickets in September and would not issue a refund. Ever. "We do not issue refunds," I was told.

My wife and I made other travel arrangements, at six times the cost of the cancelled Priceline tickets.

Next week, I'll send a brief protest letter to Priceline's executive chair, Jeff Boyd.

I'll remind Mr. Boyd of Dave Carroll's story and close the letter with the words, "Song to follow."

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