Delta hopes to avoid PR firestorm over damaged guitar

The airline insisted that a passenger’s $10,000 instrument be checked; it ended up severely damaged. Delta’s paying up, but is it too little, too late? Gibson guitars, meanwhile, quickly struck a winning chord.

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So when that happened to musician Dave Schneider on a flight from Buffalo, N.Y., to Detroit, he was understandably upset. Delta eventually offered to pay for Schneider’s guitar and give him two free passes, but only after weeks of what he calls “the runaround.” The deciding factor may actually have been news coverage of the damage.

“The fact that lower-level personnel at Delta never really grasped the potential for this story going viral and causing damage to Delta’s reputation suggests that within major organizations, the sensitivity to viral customer service problems has not filtered down from the top yet,” says Gerald Baron, blogger and principal at Agincourt Strategies.

Gibson guitars, on the other hand, scored a PR coup by inserting itself into the story. Though it had nothing to do with the incident, it stepped in and offered repairs on the old guitar as well as a brand new one.

“Gibson reaching out to me, that’s the cherry on top of the best musical nightmare ever,” Schneider told Yahoo news.

The move was “almost cynically smart,” Baron says.

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