PR Win: Gibson Replaces Guitar Destroyed on Delta Flight

As proud amateur musicians, we understand the importance of a treasured instrument–especially a premium electric guitar worth thousands of dollars.

Today we came across the story of a musician who nearly lost his six-string in transit and experienced two completely opposite reactions from the brands involved: Delta Airlines and Gibson Guitars. Can you guess who comes out looking better in this case?

Dave Schneider, who fronts a couple of bands we don’t think we’ve ever heard, always carried his 1965 Gibson (estimated value $10,000) onboard when flying because he didn’t trust others to handle it–and he was right to be worried. When Delta employees forced him to check it on a flight from Buffalo, New York to Detroit, he got paranoid and started filming with his iPhone as soon as the plane landed.

As you’ll see from this video, the guitar got stuck in an elevator at the airport, destroying the case and seriously damaging the instrument inside. Bad news.

Schneider refused a $1000 check on location because he knew that repairs would cost more–and he followed up by emailing Delta’s chief executive, who did not respond.

As the story grew popular on Facebook and caught the attention of Yahoo News, Delta suddenly realized its mistake, issuing a formal apology to let everyone know that the incident was “not indicative of the high regard we hold for our customers’ property when they travel with us”. The company reached out to Schneider, offering to pay for all repairs and send him a voucher for a free flight.

But that’s not all:

Someone at Gibson heard about Schneider’s story too–and they saw an opportunity in his nightmarish story. They offered to repair his damaged guitar and gave him a brand new re-issue of their classic 1963 model free of charge.

Schneider received multiple apologies from Delta representatives, and while he credits them for their follow-up, he makes a very important point in an email to Yahoo: this wouldn’t have happened if not for the power of social media (his story got coverage on CNN and Gawker alongside many Facebook shares).

His final message: “When a company obviously does something wrong, they should quickly find a fair solution”–because everyone has a camera in their phone these days, and evidence of a company’s poor practices can make its way around the Internet faster than you can say “PR Fail.”