'Penny Arcade' Posts Hilariously Unprofessional E-Mails From Marketing Company

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Comics Alliance has a nice summary of the exchange, so it's a good place to start.

This morning the webcomic's blog featured an e-mail thread between a customer named Dave and Ocean Marketing about the status of preordered videogame controllers, which devolved hilariously from a simple delivery inquiry to a series of insult-filled and typo-ridden e-mails from Ocean Marketing representative Paul Christoforo.

Dave brought the e-mails to the attention of Penny Arcade, along with a few other gaming sites. The results? Christoforo being banned from all future PAX events, scores of critical blog posts, a flood of derisive tweets...

I realize the holidays are stressful times for customer service reps but Paul Christoforo -AKA "TheAngryPimp"- is way over the top.

He may not be pimpin', but he sure is angry

For the news post straight from PA: http://penny-arcade.com/2011/12/27 (scroll down)

Moral of the story? Don't make Mike Krahulik angry.

I'm just now reading posts on it from other sites, but this "apology" is worth quoting here.

Hey Mike,

I just wanted to apologize for the way our emails progressed I didn’t know how big your site was and I really didn’t believe you ran Pax , So for what’s its worth I am very sorry...

It's a pretty clear case of being sorry he got caught, not sorry for his behavior.

You know, I gotta say, the PA guys are turning into grade-A dicks themselves. Not that it excuses Christoforo's behavior, but when people are saying "Don't make Mike Krahulik angry", you know there's something really wrong.

I love when the internet brings great justice.

Malor wrote:

You know, I gotta say, the PA guys are turning into grade-A dicks themselves. Not that it excuses Christoforo's behavior, but when people are saying "Don't make Mike Krahulik angry", you know there's something really wrong.

I don't think they would object to this statement at all but I'm not entirely sure I agree. Saying they'd cancel the PAX booth is actually very reasonable. I guess posting their contact info is kind of dick-ish but it's also publicly accessible info that probably would've gotten out in more than one gaming community at some point anyway.

It's also possible that Mike was the 5th guy to tell Christoforo that they're Mike Krahulik, and that he was just sick of being BS'd. I haven't really looked into it because I don't care very much.

I'm not sure I'd call the PA guys dicks just yet, but their success does seem to have gone to their collective head.

This is an awesome line:

Gabe wrote:

I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the f*cking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.

I felt the urge to clap when I read the post on PA. Much deserved.

As for the criticisms... yeah I can't see it. Hey, those guys who used their success to focus the gaming community on a charity that gives toys to sick kids in hospitals? Those guys sure are dicks.

And hey, that one of those guys who read an email from one of his readers and then jumped to the defense of said reader to rectify some terrible customer service from some douche with his head buried up his own ass? What a dick.

Whatever.

It's been officially confirmed this morning that Ocean Marketing no longer represents the makers of the Avenger Controller. I would wager this incident has already damaged them severely though. Apparently this guy's reputation precedes him and yeah, anyone who would hire that guy to represent them is pretty dumb.

Malor wrote:

You know, I gotta say, the PA guys are turning into grade-A dicks themselves. Not that it excuses Christoforo's behavior, but when people are saying "Don't make Mike Krahulik angry", you know there's something really wrong.

Not at all with you on that.

Krahulik is very aware of his motivation & actions. Yes, he's clearly angry - I don't have a problem with that. He perceived that a member of the community he built was being bullied...I'm glad he felt protective of the proverbial little guy.

I think there is a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught. I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. Someday every bully meets and even bigger bully and maybe that’s me in this case.

I'm not entirely sure what you expect Krahulik to do? Yes, the politically correct, standard corporate thing to do would be to accept the (in my opinion, completely insincere) apology, say nice things about the controller itself and let Christoforo continue unaffected except for maybe an anger-management training course. What the PR idiot's behavior really deserved was a mountain of negative attention & for him to be fired, which is what Krahulik had the power to do and what he did.

The only sad thing about this is that the actual controller attachment thingy might be good, and the bad reviews on Amazon (and I assume other sites) may prevent a number of sales.

The company hired a guy who turned out to be a total douche to run their marketing. They didn't know that - anybody can whip up a slick presentation and come in dressed well, and convince people they'll be reasonable. When the shipments were delayed, the nozzle got turned up to eleven when he lost his temper. He'd probably answered a million e-mails like that, and instead of remaining professional, he allowed his inner asshole to come out.

Kotaku quotes another firm that let this guy go after they began to have serious concerns that he wasn't going to create a very good image for their company.

I don't feel bad for him, and I think Penny Arcade is generally very careful about using their power for this sort of thing. All that has happened is that one angry, unprofessional idiot will now - thanks to the power of Google - be unable to pull the same scam on another company.

Again, though, it sucks that a (new?) company marketing what could be a pretty interesting device is getting the short end of the stick. Everybody on this board knows somebody in their career who probably seemed like a decent person and ended up being a raging asshole, and I'd prefer that the Avenger be judged on its actual worth as a gaming peripheral, instead of on the (very likely fake) reviews on Amazon that have suddenly bombed the product.

Kotaku reported that Christoforo has a long reputation of being a bit unstable here. They linked him to forged emails from Brandon Leidel, the marketing director for the Avenger controller, then linked his email to a steroid user's forum. It sounds like the biggest mistake made in this whole debacle was Ocean Marketing being hired in the first place.

I don't think Gabe's reaction was unreasonable at all. Christoforo blew past any reasonable interpretation of "justifiable anger" so quickly that he brought this all down on himself.

+1 to the above. The important thing to note is that PA has been very active in creating a gaming community, and giving people like us a place to find that community. What Mike was doing was saying - hey douchebags, you f*ck with one of the tribe, well then you are f*cking with all of us. I unapologetically am enjoying some schadenfreude this morning.

Remember, this guy was the MARKETING (i.e. public face, customer service) for the product, and he acted in that manner as though there were no consequences. Turns out, thanks to the internet, there are consequences indeed.

InspectorFowler wrote:

The only sad thing about this is that the actual controller attachment thingy might be good, and the bad reviews on Amazon (and I assume other sites) may prevent a number of sales.

Yeah this definitely sucks. I think the bad reviews were a pretty stupid idea and an unfortunate byproduct of the internet rage.

I dig it, this made my day. Just the fact alone that he battered a bullying prick into meat gives Mike K. a gold star in my book.

InspectorFowler wrote:

The only sad thing about this is that the actual controller attachment thingy might be good, and the bad reviews on Amazon (and I assume other sites) may prevent a number of sales.

Yep, Amazon reviews are all at 1 star with negative reviews. I'm told it's a good product but I don't know if they'll weather this storm.

I followed this story as it unfolded on Reddit yesterday (slow work day). It turns out this Ocean Marketing guy's website is also completely plagiarized from several other websites, even his "about us" page is stolen.

IMO Mike K. did nothing wrong here. This Paul guy attacked customers who gave his company money and haven't received a product. He only backpedaled when he found out how bad the backlash really was. He's not apologetic for his actions, just the consequences.

Malor, is it that you think Mike's behavior was out of line, or does the amount of power he can wield unsettle you?

mrwynd wrote:

I followed this story as it unfolded on Reddit yesterday (slow work day). It turns out this Ocean Marketing guy's website is also completely plagiarized from several other websites, even his "about us" page is stolen.

I'm sorry I don't have time to research this, but are you saying AngryPimp copied promotional material from other marketing sites? He could be facing a lawsuit himself, if they are made aware of it.

gregrampage wrote:
InspectorFowler wrote:

The only sad thing about this is that the actual controller attachment thingy might be good, and the bad reviews on Amazon (and I assume other sites) may prevent a number of sales.

Yeah this definitely sucks. I think the bad reviews were a pretty stupid idea and an unfortunate byproduct of the internet rage.

I don't have a problem with the bad reviews. Most all of them cite the customer service and delayed shipments as the reason. I would want to know that as a customer going in. If I pay for something I would expect it in a reasonable manner, not months down the road. Also, I could get a gauge of what type of support I could expect for the product after purchase.

I think reviews should encompass this and the ones I have read state that pretty clearly that they don't know the actual product but they don't rate the service highly.

If the accessory company is upset that Ocean marketing has damaged their reputation by their actions and worked against them, then they should sue them in court. Isn't that how companies settle things?

Running Man wrote:
mrwynd wrote:

I followed this story as it unfolded on Reddit yesterday (slow work day). It turns out this Ocean Marketing guy's website is also completely plagiarized from several other websites, even his "about us" page is stolen.

I'm sorry I don't have time to research this, but are you saying AngryPimp copied promotional material from other marketing sites? He could be facing a lawsuit himself, if they are made aware of it.

Here's details of his stolen material. (Google Doc)

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Malor, is it that you think Mike's behavior was out of line, or does the amount of power he can wield unsettle you?

Out of fairness, Mike himself states that as soon as the posted the guy's contact information, the power was out of his hands. The question becomes whether it was right for him to post it, but as stated above, that information was likely going to come out anyway once the internet started getting involved.

Since I'd wager a fair number of us were victims of bullying throughout our lives (at least I was), I feel as though when a bully gets his, like in this instance, most of us are happy it happens -- sort of a revenge by proxy against a symbolic enemy.

Xeknos wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

Malor, is it that you think Mike's behavior was out of line, or does the amount of power he can wield unsettle you?

Out of fairness, Mike himself states that as soon as the posted the guy's contact information, the power was out of his hands. The question becomes whether it was right for him to post it, but as stated above, that information was likely going to come out anyway once the internet started getting involved.

That info was pretty public though. He didn't post the guy's phone number or address, wife's name, children's school, etc.

The original PA post did include a phone number.

I was surprised when i saw today that it has been removed, but think it was a good edit to make.

mrwynd wrote:
Running Man wrote:
mrwynd wrote:

I followed this story as it unfolded on Reddit yesterday (slow work day). It turns out this Ocean Marketing guy's website is also completely plagiarized from several other websites, even his "about us" page is stolen.

I'm sorry I don't have time to research this, but are you saying AngryPimp copied promotional material from other marketing sites? He could be facing a lawsuit himself, if they are made aware of it.

Here's details of his stolen material. (Google Doc)

Edit: what RunningMan said

I cant believe someone can behave that way. I can see someone on a bad day just going in all the wrong places in a single email, but that was a total meltdown over a period of time.

I have to admit the guy got what he deserves, I am sorry for his family (if he has any).

mcdonis wrote:

I have to admit the guy got what he deserves, I am sorry for his family (if he has any).

I feel bad for his family too, if they exist, but in a way it seems particularly craven for a bully to hide behind his wife and child when the b.s. he spews blows back toward him.

Running Man wrote:
mcdonis wrote:

I have to admit the guy got what he deserves, I am sorry for his family (if he has any).

I feel bad for his family too, if they exist, but in a way it seems particularly craven for a bully to hide behind his wife and child when the b.s. he spews blows back toward him.

The family angle really sucks for him. He just got married a few months ago and had a baby boy after that. He also got a really expensive electric shaver, some expensive alcohol and a full arm tattoo for Xmas. Also, Facebook and Reddit are really creepy for just casually having that info sharable...

Dimmerswitch wrote:

The original PA post did include a phone number.

I was surprised when i saw today that it has been removed, but think it was a good edit to make.

Business number or home/mobile number though?

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