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. Shannon Rector says:

    Love the song. Very catchy…… actually made me buy the e-book 🙂 Great job, keep it up!

  2. Peter Putz says:

    Read the book and it seems to be the same guy all thru the story.
    Just great to see that guys like this still exist.
    All the best to Dave and family and mandy thanks!

  3. Don Brookfield says:

    Fantastic, David!! keep up the good work and great effort!

  4. John says:

    The song done in country style itself was heraing pleasure, coz I love hearing country songs from my childhood to date. Unfortunately I can not afford the book. I like your “just do it” philosophy. Hope to follow you and achive something great. Goodluck to your future ventures.

  5. Sibylle says:

    I read about your book in Josh Bernoff’s blog, bought it right away at amazon and took it with me on my summer holidays. What a great story to tell! I must be one of the very few people who got to know your story mostly via your book and not via the videos first ;-). Your voice – be it in singing or writing – is great. Keep on doing the things you do. I would be happy to visit one of your concerts if you come to Germany. And I look forward to receiving your “Perfect Blue” CD i ordered this afternoon. Cheers, Sibylle

  6. Peter says:

    Love the song, bought the e-book through Kobo! Can’t wait to read it!

  7. Mary Ellen says:

    Hi Dave…this is response number 2…my first one must have gone into cyber space…anyway…just wanted to say that I finished your book yesterday and I thoroughly loved it!! Your humor was great and the story kept me captivated…I had a hard time putting it down.:0) You really are an inspiration to all wish to follow their dreams…it brought me back many times to different events in my own life. Congratulations and well done….I will spread the word to everyone I know to buy the book. I bought mine on Kobo but today I bought a hard copy for my husband for his birthday. I’m really happy for your success…my favorite line is, “Oh dear God please don’t give us what we deserve”…however I feel you deserve all the blessings you received from this journey. Keep sharing all that goodness where ever you go. Best wishes for more to come in the future!

  8. Colleen Fraser says:

    You have given a voice to the average person whao has been wronged by Big Business.

    How about a song telling us how Ms. Irlwig is doing?!

  9. Kent Teffeteller says:

    United got their deserved comeuppance. And they get to suffer. And the power of YouTube creativity gone viral proves one band from Canada can strike back. And one heck of a catchy tune to boot. Never has taking it to the CEO in his pocket ever sounded so good. Give United all the hell they deserve and more. Great job and thanks for standing up for the little man.

  10. […] a second video and a third, and a book, and Carroll now does speaking tours on the subject of customer service and social media. He and […]

  11. […] Dave Carroll illustrates how his YouTube music video “United Breaks Guitars” had the power to turn an entire company upside down. After United Airlines broke the musician’s guitar in checked luggage and he received terrible customer service while trying to get compensated, Carroll turned to songwriting. He wrote a song about his experience and posted the music video to YouTube. His story changed social media customer service forever. Companies learned that the power of one voice on social media can completely destroy a brand’s reputation. […]

  12. […] Dave Carroll is an award-winning singer-songwriter, professional speaker, author and social media innovator. His 2009 YouTube music video ‘United Breaks Guitars’ became a worldwide sensation. Dave is now co-founder of the consumer resolution complaint platform, Most recently, Dave published his first book: “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media”. […]

  13. […] Dave Carroll is an award-winning singer-songwriter, professional speaker, author and social media innovator. His 2009 YouTube music video ‘United Breaks Guitars’ became a worldwide sensation. Dave is now co-founder of the consumer resolution complaint platform, Most recently, Dave published his first book: “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media”. […]

  14. Dan William says:

    As Don said on June 18 2012 : continue efforts. Here in France, if you read instructions about musical instruments at many companies, you will see that insurance is lacking or out of price. The best you have to do is to pay a seat….
    Quite possible and fine solution in low cost companies. But in some companies you see that a full size guitar is too large to fit on that seat !!!
    I do not want any company to break my Ramirez Guitar.
    Ramirez does not make Ukuleles. (Some examples of classical music with ukulele on YT).
    So my concert guitar stays at home…..
    Thanks to Dave and Bob.

  15. […] has made two additional videos about the incident, and documented the story in a book. His personal crusade to teach United a lesson about customer service has undoubtedly cost the […]

  16. Eddie Conna says:

    Dave, You inspired me. Recently I was involved in a dispute with a Century 21 Realtor. His broker, and corporate couldn’t have cared less about the problem… until I began an online campaign, posting negative reviews, etc. THEN they wanted to talk, settle and reimburse me for the monies I lost due to their agents blatant lack of disclosure. To anyone who’s been ripped off by a company, we, the consumer, have the power, and Dave Carroll has shown that.

  17. […] their cabin baggage dimensions. Perhaps they should read Dave Carrol’s book – “United Breaks Guitars – The power of one voice in the age of social media“, they may well find it a good read, especially as it happened in their […]

  18. Jim says:

    Nice song, i can suggest you to create a song for AirAsia with the theme ‘Everyday Delay’ 😉

  19. Teresa Derb says:

    Just wanted to let you know your song and book are being studied in little New Zealand at the bottom of the world!!! We referenced your work in our post grad study for emergency management, proving that social media use, and customer service is not just for big business, but important for everything. It was a pleasure reading and referencing you.

  20. […] to reevaluate the way they handle crises on social media. The whole incident has spawned a book deal and speaking engagements for Mr. Carrol plus a permanent place for United on everybody’s […]

  21. Maggie says:

    Just loved the video of United Breaks Guitars – danced around the kitchen endlessly to it – would love to read the book – please do an audio version !

  22. Hey Dave,

    It’s Scott, your Keynote presentation artist. I am sitting here watching your video introducing your book. OK, its on my list, hope the guy in the red suit comes through:) I was just going through my client list looking as I send out my holiday greetings. I didn’t have an address for you, but I found your site just as great!

    Happy Holidays and a New Year – and keep that social media kicking!


  23. […] have to stop trying to prove digital media “won’t work.”  It does, there are case studies galore proving it […]

  24. […] In 2009, Dave Carroll, a Canadian singer-songwriter, turned his experience with United Airlines into a music video (“United Breaks Guitars“) that went viral and landed him a book deal. […]

  25. Lon Dorsey says:

    I’ve had things lost by airlines before, and most of the time, they’d just say, “Please speak to someone in our lost and found department. I had no idea that was a buck passing ceremony!

    This story is really helpful, as we are not embarking on doing the, Ultimate Lou Rawls Tribute Performances with Lon Dorsey and Lou Rawls, Jr. and our musicians will be traveling constantly. This has made me much more aware of what to do when your property is lost or damaged.

    Like probably thousands of other passengers, we just gave up and stopped calling lost and found. More like missing/stolen and it was totally ‘our’ loss. This is very helpful.

    Thank you.

  26. T. Nguyen says:

    My mother who travels frequent to visited her 100 year old mother in this January 2013 in South Vietnam. A 100 years old is my grandmother too. My mother had suffered many incident with United Airlines representatives- from Dallas, TX to Ho Chi Minh City, S. Vietnam. Customer care were not friendly and satisfactions. They rather humiliated and insulted at my mother. Every single time she traveled with United Airlines. She had tried to avoid travel with United Airlines, but there is a time when grandmother ills- went to emergency room. My mother must travel which ever available airlines on that date. On behalf on my mother and me– we thanks Dave Carroll for such wonderful creatives and dedications to waked up “businesspeople” and telling them that without customers satisfactions there won’t be business to produce profits and there won’t be customer services. United Airlines representative insisted my mother checking her oversize hand-bag (which she had a small handbag inside overside bag). Mother said no, they gave her very hard time. That was the last time she traveled with United Airlines. Mother wiling to paid extra air fee to staying away from United Airlines.

  27. Ian Stewart says:


    Ian Stewart

  28. […] would use the incident for customer service training. Did it?  At least take a look at the promo: If you haven’t seen the original videos, they’re a hoot and easily found online. The now […]

  29. […] parlayed this into a book: United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media, wherein he not only tells his story, but also describes how companies should think about and work […]

  30. lakshmi says:

    loved the song, good job 🙂

  31. Richard Hancock says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the book – well-written! I want to burn a CD of the videos and songs to include with the book in my library – can I download them somewhere?

  32. Johanna says:

    Hi there,

    Since you purchased the book, you are able to get an MP3 copy of the songs talked about in the book here:

  33. […] could lower the stock price of the company by 10% and shareholder lost $180M in the process. principles were discussed in the book. I summarised them into about 12 principles, combining some […]

  34. […] It was all fun and games when people were just complaining about airlines. You still can’t look at Twitter without seeing at least one person complaining about a travel delay or bad customer service: “Damn you, Delta, how could you do this to me? Don’t you know who I AM?!” And one of my all-time favorite viral YouTube videos is “United Breaks Guitars” in which a passenger sings about United breaking his guitar when he flew on their airline. It’s so famous that it became a book. […]

  35. […] WHAT THIS MEANS: A single individual’s opinion can potentially influence thousands of people. If you are a company that has the potential for someone to be very angry with, particularly in the area of customer service, you need to know that this extremely angry tweet can hurt you. CASE IN POINT: One of the most well known cases of a viral customer complaint is “United Breaks Guitars,” a catchy tune with nearly 13 million YouTube views, created by a guitarist whose beloved $3,500 guitar was broken by United’s luggage handlers. After eight months of persistent correspondence without receiving compensation from the company, Dave Carroll released a YouTube video airing his grievances. The video’s popularity grew as Dave’s story spread like wildfire, leading to social media fervor and bad press galore. The attention manifested itself into a customer service case study and even propelled Dave to write the book, “United Breaks Guitars: The power of one voice in the age of social media.” […]

  36. […] Here is the link to the full story of United Breaks Guitars,  and United Breaks Guitars is now a book. […]

  37. Brad Purvis says:

    Another great song Dave and although I am now a Captain with United (formally Continental when your Taylor was broken) I can certainly empathize. Book on order.

  38. Liam says:

    I use this example in my teaching social media – Well done by the way!

  39. wilder125 says:

    While I’ve never experienced United’s bad service, the song is catchy and plays in my head whenever I deal with them.

  40. […] 2012, il publie un livre intitulé “United Brakes Guitars” qui relate son expérience et ce que les entreprises et les consommateurs peuvent en retirer […]

  41. […] a dictar conferencias sobre atención al cliente y redes sociales, publicó un libro llamado “United breaks guitars” (donde relata la historia y las repercusiones del caso), y lanzó junto a otros socios un […]

  42. […] even go “viral.” Many companies have found themselves in hot water as a result.6 Read Dave Carroll’s story for just one example of the power of social media.   Good reputation management is all about […]

  43. Bill Gessert says:

    Dave – We need to talk. The International Customer Service Association would LOVE to connect with you. Call me, write me, email me – whatever.
    Bill Gessert
    President – International Customer Service Association

  44. wow .. great story ! watch the video where he’s talking about

  45. […] May, 2012 Dave Carroll wrote a book about his customer experience called, “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media”, published by Hay House Publishing. Whether […]

  46. Jacques Douvier says:

    I loved the video but wow… A book? Seriously? But it’s a smart idea and United has a bad customer care service so it works.

  47. […] United Acknowledge complaints? 13,000,000 Youtube watchers know the answer. United Breaks Guitars, the book I couldn't […]

  48. Minette Duenas says:

    As a high school journalism teacher, I was looking for the perfect novel to have my students read. This summer, I found it in United Breaks Guitars. UBG is fun, easy to read, and has a great messgae for my journalism students!

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