On March 31, 2008 Sons of Maxwell began our week-long-tour of Nebraska by flying United Airlines from Halifax to Omaha, by way of Chicago. On that first leg of the flight were seated at the rear of the aircraft and upon landing and waiting to deplane in order to make our connection a woman sitting behind me, not aware that we were musicians cried out: "My god they're throwing guitars out there". Our bass player Mike looked out the window in time to see his bass being heaved without regard by the United baggage handlers. My $3500 710 Taylor had been thrown before his.
I immediately tried to communicate this to the flight attendant who cut me off saying: "Don't talk to me. Talk to the lead agent outside". I found the person she pointed to and that lady was an "acting" lead agent but refused to talk to me and disappeared into the crowd saying "I'm not the lead agent". I spoke to a third employee at the gate and when I told her the baggage handlers were throwing expensive instruments outside she dismissed me saying "but hun, that's why we make you sign the waiver". I explained that I didn't sign a waiver and that no waiver would excuse what was happening outside. She said to take it up with the ground crew in Omaha.
After being put through the usual customer non-service wringer - maybe he should have called The Fixer! - Carroll embarked into the seedy underworld of corporate irresponsibility and denial of service that major airlines really excel at. Rather than a simple "sorry, our bad," and an offer to fix the issue, he got a series of more maddening conversations and correspondents with various United personnel, culminating in this gem of an exchange:
Another month went by and I received an email from a Ms. Irlweg, in Chicago I believe. Basically said she was sorry this happened and denied my claim. Some of her reasons included :
* I didn't report it to the United employees who weren't present when we landed in Omaha
* I didn't report to the Omaha airport within 24 hours while I was driving to places that weren't Omaha
* It was an Air Canada issue
* Air Canada already denied the claim (as I mentioned, because Air Canada would not pay for United's damages), but I'm still unsure as to why I needed to report it in Omaha within 24 hours if it was clearly Halifax's responsibility
* Someone from United would need to see the damage to a guitar that was repaired
So after nine months it came down to a series of emails with Ms. Irlweg and, despite her refusal to introduce me to her supervisor, our conversations ended with her saying United would not be taking any responsibility for what had happened and that that would be the last email on the matter. My final offer of a settlement of $1200 in flight vouchers, to cover my salvage costs repairing the Taylor, was rejected.
Okay - so that's the run-around-of-the-story. So what did he do after nearly a year of playing their games you may ask? This is what he did. This is his ULTIMATE REVENGE - the link will take you to the complete write-up and video - and not only is it hysterically funny, it worked!
Not only did it grab the attention of United Airlines, Taylor Guitars, news media around the country - it got the attention of everyday folks too. Folks who are flying on their vacations. Folks who are flying on business. Folks who are flying to their gigs.... who have....guitars!