When the dry cleaners lost the pants to my husband’s favorite suit (many years ago,) after months of negotiation, they finally offered to reimburse him for the cost of the pants, but not for the value of the suit. During his final exchange with the store manager, Mike might have mentioned casually that he was a lawyer, and that if this could not be resolved amicably, he would be very happy to send them a 93A letter.
In Massachusetts legal lingo, that’s a demand letter a consumer (or more likely, the lawyer for the consumer) sends to a business that has been “unfair or deceptive.” It’s supposed to be oh so intimidating, because an eventual win on the merits allows for triple damages and attorney fees. In these parts, a discussion over a dispute with a business that cannot be resolved nice and friendly-like might end with the suggestion from a well meaning friend, “Sue the Bastard! Send him a 93A!”
But apparently, the dry cleaner’s manager wasn’t particularly impressed.
Their answer was something like this: “So sue us, Pal. Good luck with that.”
So Mike did follow up with a demand letter and a small claims action. But because litigation is NEVER the answer- even for lawyers who can do it for free, the outcome was far from satisfying. After many months, and hours of wasted time and energy, he settled. And the worst part? We had to switch to a much less convenient dry cleaner- one that consistently loses shirts.
So was there a better way? Dave Carroll found one.
Dave Carroll is a musician who spent over 9 months trying to get United Airlines to pay for damages to his custom Taylor guitar caused by the airline’s baggage handlers. During his final exchange with the United Airlines Customer Relations Manager, he didn’t threaten a lawsuit. Dave Carroll stated that he was left with no choice other than to create a music video exposing their lack of cooperation.
“Good luck with that one, pal,” the manager told him.
So Dave Carroll posted this video on Youtube, called “United Breaks Guitars”:
A friend sent that video to me this week. The accompanying email noted that the video has received over 6 million hits, and that after the video was posted, United Airlines contacted Dave and attempted settlement in exchange for pulling the video.
His response? “Good luck with that one, pal.” Payback’s a bitch.
I’m thinking of putting Dave Carroll on retainer (though apparently he’s a big star now). Here are a few music videos he could get started on:
“The Cable Guy Was A No Show…Again.”
“How ‘Bout I Call You Back When You Sit Down For Dinner?”
“Doctor, Doctor, Why is Your Time More Valuable Than Mine?”
“Spent This Beautiful Day on the Phone With Comcast.”
And of course, “Why Can’t The Dry Cleaners Just Give Me Back The Shirts I Gave Them?”
So who needs a lawyer any more? In the world of social media, it’s not just the pen that’s mightier than the sword. It’s the musician with a video camera you really don’t want to mess with.