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Timmins boy brings U.S. airline to its knees

By Donna Hopper
Friday, July 10, 2009

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the last few days, chances are good you've seen, or at the very least heard, the tale of a man, a busted guitar and a stubborn, stubborn airline.

United Breaks Guitars is Part 1 of Dave Carroll's three-part musical vent after his $3,500 Taylor guitar was damaged by careless United Airlines' baggage handlers at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

After seeking restitution from United Airlines for nine long months, the Timmins Ontario native was told last November that none would be forthcoming and the matter was now considered closed.

But that was before Carroll's revenge.

He told the United Airlines representative, Ms. Irlweg, that he was going to write three songs about his ordeal, produce videos for each, and post them on the Internet for the world to see.

Launched just three days ago, United Breaks Guitars immediately went viral.

As of 6:12 p.m. today, the video has been viewed 1,566,576 times and has received 15,786 responses on YouTube.

Currently living in Nova Scotia, Carroll told during a telephone interview this afternoon that United Airlines contacted him today and offered compensation.

"I told them 'no'," he said. "I'm not after compensation at this point. I see this as an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. I asked that they take the money they offered me and find someone down on their luck to give it to. They liked the idea."

In fact, Carroll suggested the money be given to Ms. Irlweg who, in his eyes, has been treated far too harshly by those responding to her role in the matter.

"It wasn't my intension to gang up on anyone," he said. "It was meant to be lighthearted and fun. She was just doing her job."

Messages have been coming in commending Carroll on the "very Canadian and lighthearted way" he's handled a potentially frustrating situation.

He told us as soon as he informed Ms. Irlweg what his intentions were, he was immediately over the aggravation and seized the opportunity to challenge himself creatively.

In the meantime, Carroll is finding his new-found fame a bit overwhelming.

"It's almost unmanageable," he told us. "Yesterday alone, I did 25 interviews. I have friends who've taken time off work to help me take calls and keep everything organized."

Just prior to speaking with, Carroll was contacted by Bob Taylor from Taylor Guitars, but unfortunately had to cut the conversation short as he was waiting for a phone call from Sky TV.

We predict a healthy endorsement from the guitar company in his very near future.

"The best part about all of this is the attention drawn to my band and my music," he said. "Traffic to the website has jumped and CD sales are through the roof."

Carroll also said that gig offers have been pouring in from around the globe, including one yesterday from a club in Las Vegas.

But he hasn't forgotten where he comes from and said he and his brother Don, who perform as Sons of Maxwell, have already booked their annual weekend Christmas gig in Timmins.

"Who knows?" he said. "We could be making a stop in Sault Ste. Marie around that time if everything works out."

Carroll intends on completing his three United Airlines-related songs, and told us to expect the second installment to be posted on YouTube in two to three weeks.

Until then, have a look at United Breaks Guitars below.

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