Customer complaints are a bit of a mixed bag among most people. Some are more likely to speak up when they receive poor service, refusing to pay until the mistake is corrected, or demanding to see the manager. However, to most of us, more so the self-proclaimed peace loving group, complaining about poor service is equal to throwing a tantrum – an activity, they feel is best left to three year-olds and senile old women. As Kenyans, we are known for our good natured manner and politeness – traits that unfortunately don’t augur well with complaining about poor or lack of service. Most of us would rather complain to our friends than the management or service provider directly.
But that’s exactly what’s wrong with society today. We prefer to roll over and take things, murmuring amongst ourselves yet unwilling to tell speak up about how we feel. But there are a few who ensure their thoughts are heard, loud and clear. Men like Dave Carrel, a singer made famous in 2009 by his three part viral video narration of his experiences with United Airlines, are not afraid to speak their minds.
As his songs narrate, he was getting ready to get off the plane at a layover when a passenger behind him commented about how the luggage handlers were throwing guitars around in the loading area. A look at the tarmac confirmed his worst fears – his and his band mates’ easily recognizable Taylor guitars were being tossed around, leading to the breaking of his 3,500 dollar guitar’s neck.
He took complaining about poor service to the public space and used his experience to educate potential United customers about the things they should be wary of before buying a ticket, doing it in the best way – one that most people can relate to through social media. His videos were not the only way he brought attention to the issue. After he hit a few hundred thousand in views, news stations started to take notice, leading to over 200 interviews in a matter of months all focused on the same thing – United’s pathetic customer service.
Countless voices have been added to the discussion, and parody videos have increased the total views on this topic to many more million views than the 12 million the videos themselves generated, with parodies like “Hitler finds out United breaks guitars” and the like going viral themselves, creating a bad publicity storm that the company is yet to recover from.
His efforts gave birth to news titles such as “A Public Relations Disaster: How saving $1,200 cost United Airlines 10,772,839 negative views on YouTube” With lyrics such as “You broke it you should fix it // You’re liable just admit it // I should have flown with someone else or gone by car // Coz United breaks guitars”
I can’t say I’m surprised. After unsuccessfully trying to get reimbursed for his Taylor guitar for nine months, he got fed up of the process and delivered his final complaints to them in the best way he knew how – by teaming up with his band mates to create the videos that quickly went viral and trashed the airline’s reputation with each view.
So the next time you’re unhappy with the service you receive, speak up. Don’t just turn murmur or cuss under your breadth, because it’s your right to receive proper service at all times. After all, the customer is always right, right?