United Breaks Guitars

The power of one voice in the age of social media

United Breaks Guitars
  • Dave Carroll tells the inspiring tale of how he handled a frustrating situation nonconfrontationally, with a mission of ‘improving the world, one experience at a time.' His story resonated with me, and it will move you, too!

    Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

    #1 New York Times best-selling author

    "Wishes Fulfilled and Excuses Begone!"

  • This may be one of the most humble stories ever told by a man who changed the world.

    Josh Bernoff

    co-author of "Groundswell"

  • As anyone who’s heard him sing or seen him speak knows, Dave Carroll is a master storyteller. In this delightful and insightful book, Dave unveils the amazing true story of the video sensation that changed the worlds of social media and customer service.

    David Rogers

    author of "The Network Is Your Customer"

  • The story of Dave Carroll’s broken guitar is the profoundly moving account of how one man took on an implacable system and won. In a world pervaded by doom and gloom, his story is a rare and welcome burst of sunshine.

    Frank McKenna

    Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group

    former Canadian Ambassador to the United States

  • If you have customers, then you should read this book to understand how one frustrated—and talented—customer named Dave Carroll taught corporate America how to treat people better.

    Charlene Li

    author of "Open Leadership"

    co-author of "Groundswell"

  • By far, the greatest story of one person’s social-media victory over big-airline lies and mistreatment. It’s why all companies better stand up and pay attention to every single voice. You will love Dave Carroll, his story, his victory, and his YouTube video. This is not just a book. It’s a service lesson and a warning about social consumerism.

    Jeffrey Gitomer

    author of "Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless,

    Customer Loyalty Is Priceless"

Buy The Hardcover @ Amazon Buy The Hardcover @ Indigo Buy the eBook

Amazon USA / International, Amazon Canada,
Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books

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

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.

81 Responses to “DAVE’S BOOK!”

  1. Johanna says:

    Hi Minette,

    Dave would love to hear how your students enjoyed the book. Feel free to drop him a line at

  2. […] more attention from this video than all of their other videos combined. They have even written a book which is a great example of how to extend successful content into additional […]

  3. I love the video and the book sounds like a great read! It’s definitely going on my list of guitar books to read this year!

  4. Sharon Mumford says:

    Dear Dave ,
    I love your concerts ( Sons of Maxwell at the casino ) the last 2 years ! And I really enjoyed your book . Very interesting read !! ( I also really enjoyed your parents who I bought the book from ) They both should be considered part of the concert !! Please come every year , My Mom and I love it !!!

  5. Russ Prescott says:

    Thanks for taking the time to do both the uTube and your book. I’m taking a Customer Service course and my instructor put a link for us to view your video. Very well done. A great example of the power of one.

  6. Jeff says:

    Dave, Congratulations on your book, and moreover on the impact you’ve had on the travel and music industries. If you care to reach out, your next full-scale travel guitar is on us.

  7. Bonnie says:

    When are you going on tour

  8. gustavo manrique ruiz says:

    Dear Dave, I need your help. I will tell you my story for asking you to help me to compose a song like United breaks guitars, but of course not with the same style 😉

    Well, I live in Colombia, South America, I’m 33 years old, I live with my wife and both my kids (8 and 2 years old), I’m a teacher in an university in Bogota.

    My salary is good, I confess, but it isn’t enough for keeping my wife and kids, so I needed another money source for increasing their life quality. You know, a father tries to give his family the best.

    Anyway, going to the situation, it started on March/2014, I found a paper in which they said they help you finding new cars and they made them to work for you and of course, you got the profits.

    It was so interesting (in my opinion), so I got a loan with which pay some part of the car: the car’s price was COP$ 30.000.000, in dollars is about $ 15.000 dollars; the legal cost was COP$ 8.000.000, about $4.000 dollars, and the “conditioning” made by them cost COP$ 8.000.000, about another $4.000 dollars, so the car’s real price was about $23.000 dollars without another insurance.

    Anyway, as I told you, I made these payments in March, and they said, the car was about to be ready in 60 days, because there had to be two more companies: the car’s dealer and the company with which the car had to be enrolled (by Colombian law)

    All these three companies worked as inefficient as they could, on September 1st the dealer gave me the car, but I had to give it to them for making it working, but today is the day this car isn’t working, and I have to pay the insurance, the loan, and other loans I had to get for paying the first loan. As you think, as more goes the time, more money I have to get for paying it and you know, It is really bad.

    Why did I tell you this? Not for getting a lawyer, but for make social justice as you did with United, because it is not fear these companies make what they want with people like you and I.

    Thank you dear Dave,

    Best regards,

    GUSTAVO MANRIQUE (from Colombia)
    PD, Forgive me if my English writing is not the best (I speak Spanish)

  9. Johanna says:

    Hi Bonnie,

    Where are you located and we can let you know when Dave might be performing in your area?

  10. Johanna says:

    Thanks for your kind words Jeff. I’ll pass along the message to Dave. Feel free to also email him at

    Have a great day.


  11. Johanna says:

    Thanks for your kind words Russ! Dave wishes you well in your course and studies.

  12. Stefan Larsson says:

    Hello ! My name is Stefan and has a Swedish dance band . I have been fascinated by your song UNITED BREAKS GUITARS . I have long wanted to make a Swedish text and perform the song in Sweden and I think would go very well. I have written a text that I think turned out really well , which is about a touring dance band . Is it ok for you if I do it in Sweden ? Please Stefan Larsson

  13. Harry Koester says:

    Dear Dave, I loved your song and would love to colaborate with you to write and song dedicated to progressive. I have been at war with them for over 2 years now. I think together we could create another hit!!

  14. Johanna says:

    Hi Stefan,

    Please contact Dave directly at Thanks!


  15. Johanna says:

    Hi Harry,

    Feel free to give Dave an email directly, to discuss! Have a great week.


  16. Gwyneth Oneill says:

    Hi, I live in Wirral England and just listened to your “United breaks guitars” Would love for you to play your country music over here in the UK. It is very popular here and your voice is something I could listen to and dance to for a long time. I hope you will give it some thought, Gwyneth

  17. Shelley Ramey says:

    Is the physical CD available for “United Breaks Guitars”?

  18. Lisa Hurlong says:

    Having seen other airlines do the same thing I love you take on it. The youtube video and song are wonderful. Lisa in Granada

  19. Sandy Warren says:

    I just ordered the book on Amazon. I’d like to tell you how much you brightened up my day in 2009 with your video. It was a very hard time in our company and every day just sucked. One day a group of us were just shooting the bull and I clicked on the YouTube link from a news story about your situation. From those first few rollicking notes we were all dying laughing and singing along. After that I could click on your video every time I needed a little cheering up. Thanks for that! I haven’t watched it for a year or so and just saw tonight that the FAA has changed their rules to allow musicians to carry on some instruments. That led me to show someone your video and we all enjoyed it anew. Good luck in the future!

  20. […] the song United Breaks Guitars went viral (which, unfortunately for the airline, was followed by a bestselling book and genuine community […]

  21. Johanna says:

    Hi Shelly,

    If you are looking to purchase a CD with the United Breaks Guitars trilogy, it is found on the “Perfect Blue Deluxe” CD:


  22. Mike Heidtbrink says:

    Hi Dave,
    Just checking the Nebraska connection. I work with clients in Nebraska and California. ( Originally from Malcolm, NE… and graduated from Concordia Seward.) I figured you have to invest your money somewhere… And who knows. We might be related. I love what you did, and I’m glad you have been blessed from it! You are my “kinda” guy! Let me know if I can be of help in any way.

    In His Service,
    Mike Heidtbrink

  23. Mark says:

    Good for you, this is what I want to do for Movistar Colombia, a company of thieves!

  24. Dick says:

    It’s great to see how one person can bring a giant corporation to its knees. He hit them in the wallet and if they hadn’t been so arrogant all they would have had to do is replace his guitar. Great job, Dave.

  25. David Bley says:

    Enjoyed your video. Thought you might like my United story:

    May 28, 2014

    United Customer Care
    United Airlines, Inc.
    900 Grand Plaza Drive NHCCR
    Houston, TX 77067-4323

    Customer Service:

    Let me preface my remarks about my recent experience with UAL with a comment that my wife and I are full fare (not discounted or upgraded) first class passengers. This should be a point in your fare schedule where you try NOT to piss off your high margin customers.

    I made reservations for four passengers flying from Phoenix, Arizona, to Montreal, Canada, subsequently returning to Boston, then Washington Dulles, and back to Phoenix. We had originally planned to book a flight to Providence to make a ferry connection to Martha’s Vineyard. These reservations were made in February. Subsequently United changed our flights and times so often we felt it would be problematic to connect with the ferry schedule.

    Note that even though four persons were traveling together, both couples were notified capriciously one or the other about the schedule changes and it was only by keeping in touch that we had any clue about the flights. Instead, we elected to fly into Boston and take a limousine service to Martha’s Vineyard.

    Our troubles began with UAL flight 1446 from Phoenix to Washington DC (Dulles Airport). Although weather delays and some equipment problems are excusable, not having a flight crew for an early flight isn’t. It is also not OK to have the counter people repeatedly announce later and later departure times when they knew damn well not to expect any relief for two and one half hours. This drip drip drip rescheduling can have no purpose other than preventing a shift to a competitor. This string of mendacities would be humorous except for our connecting flight to Montreal on Air Canada.

    I would like to digress at this point to comment on the crew we waited two and one half hours for. There were cabin attendants in first class, but after breakfast was served no refreshments were offered for the remainder of the flight. Sure enough, we arrived at Dulles only 25 minutes before the Air Canada was scheduled to depart. The HELPFUL people at the customer service desk told us we could not make the flight, but we found out later that our bags did and were merrily winging their way to Canada.

    We were offered two alternatives:

    1 – Stay in a local hotel and take the next Air Canada the following morning, or
    2 – Take a shuttle to Reagan National and leave on a U S Air flight to Montreal that evening.

    We were not told that the shuttle was going to take us on a tour of Washington DC when we selected option 2. However, this did not turn out to be a problem with the US Air connection because that flight was two and one half hours late. (Isn’t it funny how this two and one half hour bit keeps turning up? It must be an industry standard).

    When we finally arrived in Montreal at 2:00 AM we were still uncertain about the location of our bags. They had been put in an Air Canada secure location and despite the early hour of our arrival an Air Canada representative met us to release the luggage. Perhaps it is unfair, but it is hard to believe we would have gotten that kind of service from United.

    When we arrived at the Pierre Trudeau airport three days later to depart Montreal, we were told that although we had tickets and a confirmation code, we did not have seats and the flight was oversold. After explaining the difficulty of our circumstances, Air Canada graciously offered 400 dollars to passengers willing to wait for the next flight so we could travel. Once again, it is hard for me to imagine United providing that kind of service (see above).

    I would like to finish this narrative by telling you that our trip home to Phoenix from Washington DC was uneventful. I would like to, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. As in Phoenix, United couldn’t put together the necessary elements for air travel: a crew AND a plane. This time it was the plane that was missing, and the only hint to the trouble was the cryptic message that kept flashing on the departure board: awaiting aircraft.

    This time we did have a crew! Our 6:15 flight (UA 939) finally took off at 9:37, violating the two and a half hour rule. I’m not sure this was the plane you were looking for, but, hey, we can’t be choosy.

    I think you should study customer service procedures, specifically comparing how you respond with Air Canada’s (and maybe other airlines). As to your inability to successfully put together a plane and a flight crew, I can only wonder as I sat for three hours at this gate while yet another UAL flight at the next gate had a plane but no crew.

    No one believes airlines have an easy job, but come on. Don’t you think you can do better?


    David W Bley

  26. Filene says:

    I’m glad that something new was born from the tragedy that United caused. However, we know your persistence and your friends both helped push that seed to sprout. I see others call your work, “an alternative to getting angry”, but I worry they’re confused.
    You weren’t angry, you had conviction. We shouldn’t accept ‘no’ for customer service these days, and you showed them how “no” turns out. Thank you, and I hope your story changes the minds of companies uninterested in enriching all their customers’ experience. 🙂

  27. […] 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. Many corporations benefited greatly and improved in their customer service. He subsequently became a professional speaker and also produced a book entitled UNITED BREAKS GUITAR – THE POWER OF ONE VOICE IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA […]

  28. Sabahat Ellahi Chaudhry says:

    Bravo Dave
    Can you write a song on how another Global Giant ruined family business
    in Thailand.

  29. Sabahat Ellahi Chaudhry says:

    Bravo Dave
    You should launch an Album plenty of songs to be written on Global Giants ruining livelihoods and bullying common people

  30. Kevin says:

    This is one of the best country songs I’ve ever heard. I’m impressed with how Dave handled the situation by using his creativity to combat United Airlines and their indifference to customer service.

  31. eric crayon says:

    The video is very nice and the book looks like awesome . As a guitar player it should be the part of my guitar books . thanks for sharing . I am very exiting to try with my Yamaha 700s

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