Guitar and Silent Bob Strike Back at Airlines – Whats the Value of an Apology?

When  Dave Carroll made the infamous “United Breaks Guitar” video, it spread through the web like wildfire. United Airlines is now breathing a sigh of relief as a new airline tries to handle the backlash of a social media disaster.  The drama started when film producer, Kevin Smith was deemed a safety risk and was then asked to leave flight because of his weight. Like many of us do when unsatisfied with a service, he tweeted about the incident.

Similar to the viral nature of “United Breaks Guitar” this crisis spread around the web in the matter of hours. Supporters of the producer sent out tweets expressing how much they hated Southwest airlines and one went as far as proclaiming Kevin Smith to be the Martin Luther King for Fatties.

For the next few hours, Kevin Smith continued to bash the airlines and share some of the comments his followers had for the airline. Like any organization in the middle of a crisis, Southwest released an apology via twitter and their blog. Now typically, you would think this would put a little bit of water on the fire but instead it added a gallon of gasoline.

Rather than accepting the apology and moving on, Kevin Smith continued to rant and rave. Southwest also offered the producer a $100 voucher which he  respectfully declined.

@SouthwestAir “Our apology to KevinSmith and more details regarding the events from last night: http://cot.ag/96KHC7 ” So your apology is “Sorry, sir. But you ARE kinda fat…”? I flew out AND back IN ONE SEAT, YOU PIECES OF SHIT! SModcast in two hrs tells WHOLE story.

The hateful tweets continued into the night until he released a podcast and went on to spend the rest of Valentines day with the people he loved. If you want a better breakdown of the freakout tweakout, Gawker nails it.

Going back to Dave Carroll for a moment. We recall that after the “United Breaks Guitar” video went viral, he decided that it was necessary to release “United Breaks Guitar 2.” Hoping to get another warm response from viewers this video underperformed in comparison to the original.  It seems as if we tend to become less interested in crisis and drama after we hear it the first time. Like the United Video, If Smith  continues to rant and rave will the impact start to diminish?

After the 10th or 15th tweet from Kevin Smith, some of is followers begun to call him out as a whiner and cry baby. While the number of supportive tweets have begun to simmer down a bit. There is definitely a bunch of people who fully support Smith and encourage him to continue with is rants. However, something tells me that the reason behind Carroll posting a second video, and Smith continuing to tweet – Has more to do with their ego & the publicity than righting a wrong.

There has to be a happy medium for both sides. While its true that some of us have a more powerful voice then others, its clear companies are starting to listen. Once upon a time an organization could simply send you a formal apology or give you a gift card and you were happy. Now however, sorry doesn’t seem to cut it. Are organizations now expected to go above and beyond when a customer complains? I mean, seeing that these guys tend to continue to complain even after an apology. Is there anything you can do to shut an angry consumer up?

Doesn’t look like it.

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