United just can’t win with Canadian singer

Canadian singer-songwriter Dave Carroll flew United again, and it just didn’t work out. Carroll made the headlines when he released a YouTube video explaining his experience with United, which broke his guitar when he changed planes at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

In his first song, Carroll said he wouldn’t rule out flying United again, specifically, “To save the world, I probably would … but that won’t likely happen.” Well, he did fly United again, simply because he needed a direct flight from Nova Scotia to Denver, and United had the only one available. This time, United didn’t break his guitar, but it did lose his luggage.

When he arrived at Denver International Airport, Carroll learned that his luggage was delayed, and the United employees on hand told him to wait for it. Meanwhile, an airport official told him to leave the baggage claim area. Eventually he yielded — a smart move, since his luggage didn’t arrive until Wednesday. And, yet again, United is in the position of having to investigate a problem associated with quite possibly the nicest wronged customer in the history of the travel business.

Following his original debacle with United, Carroll said he’d create three videos for YouTube. He’s created two so far, in addition to a statement explaining the situation with United and urging people not to be so hard on Ms. Irlweg. All three have been viewed a total of nearly 7 million times.

United has promised to take steps to improve customer service, but this seems to be slow-moving, as evidenced by Carroll’s recent situation. To make matters worse, the word from United’s vice president of customer contact centers, Barbara Higgins, said in an interview with Christopher Elliott, “Our agents are empowered to escalate serious concerns that they hear from our guests. We have since provided them with a better way to do that to ensure we can be more responsive to special situations that arise, while also protecting us from the fraud that we see.”

“Empowered to escalate” — that doesn’t strike me as terribly empowered.

The lack of movement on the issue seems clear in Carroll’s Denver debacle. He had finished the lyrics for the third song before taking this trip. “They lyrics that I used sort of encompass what happened here this week so I might not have to rewrite it after all,” he told CBC. That’s a sad statement, when you think about it. He was writing about a problem that happened over a year ago, and recent events don’t call for revision.

So much for progress …

Ironically, Carroll was flying to Denver to give a speech at RightNow Technologies, a company that develops customer service software. Maybe United will schedule a demo soon.

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[Photo by cliff1066 via Flickr]