Yes, There Is Such A Thing As Bad Publicity

This week, a massive customer service clusterfracas swept the gaming world, then the rest of the Internet. It involved a game console controller that was late in shipping, a a marketing firm in over its head, a popular webcomic, the unholy wrath of the Internet hate machine, and one humble customer who just wanted to know whether he was going to get his gadget by Christmas or not. What did we learn here? That there is such a thing as bad publicity, and that sometimes people on the Internet actually are who they claim to be.

Meet Dave. Dave ordered the Avenger, a plastic thingy that fits over your Xbox or PS3 controller and lets you play with less hand movement, allowing you to react more quickly and also helping people with limited hand movement to play effectively and awesomely.

The company behind the Avenger hired a marketing company, Ocean Marketing, to handle distribution, promotion, and sending crazed rants to customers. Or at least to Dave. He started out politely, but after an e-mail exchange where his correspondent was vague and unhelpful, Dave sent a reply that was not exactly polite and professional…but not the most obnoxious complaint letter I’ve ever seen. The whole exchange is posted over at Penny Arcade, but here are the last two paragraphs:

I want my two n-controllers. I 1) PAID FOR THEM 2) WAITED 3) DEALT WITH YOUR UNHELPFUL ASS. I also didn’t want to feel like my trust and loyalty as a customer was being abused and then actually punished in comparison to other customers. But I guess we can’t have it all… so right now I’ll settle for getting my merchandise and hopefully never having to deal with you again. I’ve spent enough time writing this email which I hope you gain some insight from. If you actually do want to screw me over by not fulfilling my order, then I assure you be hearing more from me or people representing me.

You show a surprising lack of business polish for someone who’s quite established, AND an lack of awareness of your customer base: Hardcore gamers. We’re a demanding, vocal customer but the flip side is we’re loyal and eager to spend. It’s lucky for you that I really want this product because it seems really deliver on making the gaming experience more effective and enjoyable. Hell, I want to combine the aventer-controller with the xtend play to make the ugliest, most comfortable, most awesome controller ever. And I’ll still buy the xtend, so let that be a testament to your products, the rise above your poor representation.

For future reference, this is not an effective complaint strategy. I paraphrase: “Your customer service is terrible, but I’m still going to buy this product, and more of your products in the future. HA HA! I SHOWED YOU!”

Anyway, this message was copied to a number of popular gaming and tech sites’ tiplines, including Penny Arcade. (If you’re not familiar: it’s a massively popular webcomic about gaming culture, and the key thing to know is that the people behind it run a massive gaming convention, PAX.) Dave’s correspondent answered with an arrogant and incoherent diatribe. Again, you can read the whole appalling original at Penny Arcade.

Send that over to Engadget you look like a complete moron swearing and sending your customer service complaints to a magazine as if they will post it or even pay attention do you think you’re the first or the last what are they going to do demand us to tell you were your shipment is or ask for a refund on your behalf … Really … Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up. Grow up you look like a complete child bro. I Don’t have my controller so im gonna cry to the world … Really ?? Hey take that free time and do something more productive. All you had to do was check the like everyone else , people have inquired but you’re the douchiest of them all :-)

The e-mail’s writer, who is also the CEO of this marketing company, happened to name-drop PAX East as a conference that he is cool enough to visit and Dave is not. After this missive, the comic’s illustrator, um, wrote back.

Holy shit this is unbelievable. Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it.

Oh, but no mere person in charge of the convention can keep this marketing company down.

Hey Mikey,

We’re not renting a booth at pax east this year , bigger and better shows to be at we got nothing from the show . Oh so you know this guy has sold over 500 thousand dollars of product in Dec and is my main distribution arm landing us in GameStop , fry’s , Myers , Best buy , Activision , MLG , play N trade and a lot more . Were in 6 countries and you’re not going to take my money for a booth that’s a crock I can guarantee I’ll get a booth if I want one money buys a lot and connections go even further. He’s a native Bostonian from Little Italy . Who are you again ?

It goes on from there, but the gist is that the company’s CEO does not seem to believe that the person e-mailing him actually is Mike Krahulik, and has the power to make a blog post that would fire up the Internet Hate Machine. The next day, he apologized.

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. Your post has obviously made my life very difficult and I have not slept yet dealing with all the spam and personal information intrusion as well as my family being smeared on the internet.

If you can please accept my apology and anything you can do to help if not me my son and wife please do. I have apologized to Dave and apologized to you what else can I do please tell me so I can make things good. I obviously care or I would not be emailing you.

What is he really saying here: “I’m sorry that I sent a crazed diatribe to a customer,” or “I’m sorry that my e-mails were plastered all over the Internet”? We all know the answer to that question.

In any case… Dave was vindicated.

axYAm-1.png

Just Wow! [Penny Arcade]
an update [Penny Arcade]
Makers of Avenger controllers take money and run.

Update: Penny Arcade has addressed this story in comic form.

Comments

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  1. ajlien says:

    There is no way that was a 38 year-old responding…right?

    • Laura Northrup says:

      People on Reddit and Twitter turned up things that we are much too classy to link to here.

      * disclaimer – blogger may not actually be classy

    • Black Knight Rebel says:

      He wwebsite as on the internet, I think I can trust him.

    • manus manum lavat says:

      I spoke to this douche on the phone. He sounded like an adult… an adult without any sort of maturity level, but an adult none the less.

      • NashuaConsumerist says:

        Were you a customer or someone ‘poking the bear’? Just curious. If it was just to annoy, know that I would have done the same if I had his number.

    • kc2idf says:

      Could be. Not the point. Age has no value when “your a douchebag”. I’ve known 12-year-olds with more business acumen and better grammar; I’ve known 60-year-olds with less maturity.

      No, this guy is a bully, an idiot, and illiterate. I have no idea how his firm got hired in the first place.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        I’m a PR manager by trade now, having first spent a decade as a video game producer, so reading this post gives me a double case of the screaming willies.

        I mean, really? The OP is “the douchiest of them all” for demanding what he paid for (after asking nicely first, if I’m understanding the situation correctly)? Outlandish hubris aside, the CEO’s lack of basic spelling and grammar skills makes me wonder if the firm got hired only because he’s related to someone at the manufacturing company. And speaking of which, I (kinda) feel bad for the OEM, as they apparently hired the world’s biggest d-bag to handle marketing of their products. Does nobody check references these days?!

        Yes, there is such a thing as bad PR. Hope Ocean Marketing enjoys their super-sized serving of it.

        • eldritch2k4 says:

          The OP did initially inquire politely about where his two controllers were. They were meant to be delivered in early December, but manufacturing issues delayed delivery. The OP sent a message on Dec. 16 asking when he would be receiving his purchase. King Douche of Douchingshire responded cryptically at best, making things up at worst, and that was when the OP started getting irritated.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Just found this on Twitter – looks like someone got a shot of @OceanMarketing’s twitterfeed before all of the tweets were deleted: http://i.imgur.com/tOHvf.jpg

      Yeah, they’re at the same level of maturity as the email exchange. Nice.

      • Fry says:

        That isn’t his Twitter feed. Paul’s Twitter handle was @OceanMarketting (two T’s in there; someone is using it now to promote Indie games, and it is still linked to the heavily-plagairized [sp?] official site), but he abandoned it and became @OceanStratagy (another mispelling). @OceanMarketing and @OceanStetagy, as well as possibly more, are all trolls.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          The fake one did a remarkable job of capturing his voice, although they should have misspelled more words if they really wanted to make it sound authentic. I give them a 9/10 .

        • imasqre says:

          Why would he purposefully misspell marketing (to marketting) as his official handle?

    • newmie says:

      You are correct on that. By 38, most people know when to shut up, and not piss off the customer.

      • Yorick says:

        not always. Some folks have an overinflated sense of self-value.

      • makreljohnson says:

        Have you never been out in public and interacted with a diversity of people? There are MANY adult children wandering the face of this planet. Too many.

        Age does not bestow maturity, wisdom or adjustment. You have to earn it like everything else.

  2. foofish says:

    The OP had me at “THE WHOLE F*CKIN BEEFALO”

  3. ranhalt says:

    Apparently, the new PR guy in charge is @TheSchwartz173. I believe him, but there’s something to say about adding legitimacy by using an account related to the company instead of someone’s personal Twitter – at least change his bio to say “I represent Company X”.

  4. shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet says:

    It boggles my mind that anyone making products for the gaming industry wouldn’t know the power of Penny Arcade and that the Penny Arcade guys are PAX.

  5. anonimosity says:

    “I wwebsite as on the internet”

    insta-meme. love it.

    • FSugino says:

      Josh Olin @JD_2020 12h
      I’ll tell you what @GEICO & @Allstate… Make your case in 140 characters or less why I should insure with you. Ready Go!

      GEICO @GEICO
      @JD_2020 Great savings, outstanding service, and a proven 75-year track record. And we will never wwebsite as on the Internet.

    • Kung Foo says:

      And go on with just killing “was”s with “website.” Yeah~

      “I wwebsite as on the internet and wwebsite as wondering how everything wwebsite as going with you?”

      Too much?

  6. Coupon says:

    His PR firm was a joke from the start. His Web site was all copied, etc. http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/nsgj4/everything_on_oceanmarketings_website_is/

    Whoever hired him missed what appears to be a lot of warning signs, starting with what the dude looks like.

    • GoldVRod says:

      Is it just me or is every link to reddit an unfathomable pile of indented shit?

      • sparrowmint says:

        No, that’s just what Reddit looks like.

        • Conformist138 says:

          But, I can never find the original post on there… I get a headline and then a bunch of comments. How do I even know that headline is correct? Where is the content? Or is reddit just a site where someone titles a post and it’s considered authentic when people reply?

          I have never been happy clicking a reddit link for this reason. A bunch of people talking about a single headline with no further info just isn’t worth looking at, ever.

  7. Almighty Peanut says:

    i can’t wait to see the PA comic :)

  8. SteveHolt says:

    So um, did Dave get his fucking controller dealie or what?!

  9. KrispyKrink says:
  10. EvanMax says:

    Everyone involved in this deserves each other.

    • Black Knight Rebel says:

      Consumerist didn’t post the first half. The customer was nice and reasonable in the beginning but douche-icus maximus prodded him into what you see as the first quoted text box.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Exactly. Everyone needs to go read the full account at Penny Arcade. It’s actually really entertaining because the Ocean Marketing guy started it by telling the OP that if the company sees he’s canceled his order, they would cancel any other orders he placed for the controller.

        • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

          Indeed, it was the best thing I read yesterday. I loved the progression from polite to raging lunitic (warrented, in my opinion.) and to see the responses from this “CEO” on the matter get more and more outrageous.. wow, indeed.

  11. Thaddeus says:

    The reviewers on Amazon have eviscerated this thing, big names in gaming are Tweeting, major gaming sites are plastering this all over the place… Hell, people have dug up all the guys personal information (FB, MYS, Court stuff) and posted it all over…

    I’m not saying this guy didn’t have it coming, but It’s stuff like this that makes me scared of the blind power and intense focus of the internet when it’s pissed off.

    All that being said: Do not F#%K with Penny-Arcade!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It reminds me of the lady in England who (for whatever batcrap crazy reason) saw a cat hanging out in a yard and put it in the trash can. She was caught on CC camera and 4chan went nuts over it. I mean, it made her life living hell.

      The internet can be used for really good things though. Penny Arcade is also behind Child’s Play Charity, which was actually also started as a response to some idiot who riled up the internet.

      • El_Red says:

        Terrorizing a cat, she deserved 4chan.

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        I can’t say I wouldn’t wish that on anyone who would put a living animal in a trash can, honestly. Guess she knows what feeling trapped, scared and helpless is like now.

    • scurvycapn says:

      That’s too bad. The device was created to help gamers with disabilities. It’s the marketing firm that is being the jerks here, not the company who actually designed the device.

      • Sparkstalker says:

        I feel a little sorry for them, but they chose to do business with him…

      • little stripes says:

        It kind of sucks, but if this guy was this bad … they should have known. They said he was “rough around the edges.” Methinks they were trying to save a buck by hiring a friend or a friend-of-a-friend or some random douche that charged them next to nothing, and, well, it bit them in the ass.

  12. Thaddeus says:

    Also, you know things have gotten out of hand when GEICO is making fun of you: http://twitter.com/#!/GEICO/status/151720116357308416

  13. Not Given says:

    AYBABTU

  14. Bob Lu says:

    I seriously doubt whether this ocean marketing is just a hired 3rd party.

    This N-controller thing doesn’t look like a legit company producing real goods either. Yes several creditable sources had their hands on demo models, but I found no evidence that even a single controller has been delivered to a paying consumer.

    I’m guessing something went horribly wrong during the production of the controller, assuming the whole thing is not a intentional scam at the first place.

  15. outinthedark says:

    One of the most important emails you left out of the story making this entirely out of context.

    There is a promotion for $10 off new orders and when Dave asked about getting a $20 reimbursement he was flat out told he couldn’t even cancel, would not receive any reimbursement for his preorder, and that “if we catch anyone doing it we will simply just cancel your order all together and you can buy it retail somewhere else.”

    Ocean Marketing flung the first round of shit. NOT Dave.

  16. kjell1979 says:

    If I was the maker of this controller (Kotkin Enterprises?) and looked through the email chain there is one tact that Dave (with a “V”!) did right which was despite the rude responses from Ocean Marketing, still seemed genuinely excited about the product. If I was making the controller, that would make me ripping mad. Yes the $10 discount for new orders is clearly a slap in the face, but I think one way to get the attention of higher ups is when they see someone who clearly is excited about their product in the face of getting dumped on by someone representing their company.

    But I also think that Dave might have missed out too. If he hadn’t succumbed to the tone Ocean Marketing was setting, he could have really come out of this the true winner in all of this.

    • StarKillerX says:

      True, although some of his early emails, from before the marketing guy totally lost his mind did make Dave seem like a whiney little bitch.

  17. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Hard core gamers have problems? When he gets out of his mummy’s basement and into the real world he may eventually be able to compose an intelligible letter.

    My tears remain unshed.

  18. Kaleey says:

    Oh, won’t someone save the grammar?

  19. Geotis says:

    “This American Life,” PLEASE to an hour-long show on this event.

  20. Cat says:

    Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet,

    How was it possible to have a wwebsite before it was the internet?

  21. Gorbachev says:

    Mr. Ocean Marketing is still going strong, though:

    https://twitter.com/#!/oceanstretagy

    Please note, also, that he was caught sock puppeting another avengercontroller.com email account, so without further proof, I’m not buying that “he’s fired” email. The email doesn’t, however, contain the usual spelling errors and lols, so maybe it is real.

    • Fry says:

      That Twitter handle is a troll account, as well as his old @OceanMarketting (yes, with two T’s). Paul’s Twitter is now @OceanStratagy (yes, he mispelled that as well). His old account is now in the hands of someone else promoting indie games after Paul abandoned it, but his website is still linked to it. Makes for a good read.

  22. AngryK9 says:

    HA! I could see this one showing up on CNN…

  23. MercyMedical says:

    It appears this isn’t the first time this has happened with Paul from Ocean Marketing:

    http://www.natesnetwork.com/Poor-customer-service

    It also appears that individual did in fact receive the controller, so I don’t think the company that makes them is necessarily a scam.

  24. Robofish says:

    Yay my tip worked!

  25. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Erm..if anyone has learned anything from Penny Arcade over the years, it’s that you *don’t* mess with them. Ever. As in, just kiss your ass goodbye because your online life will be over and you’ll have to live out your life in a cave as a hermit over.

    Yeah..it was nice knowing the PR guy.

  26. philpm says:

    That is some epic fail for the ages right there.

  27. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    I wish the penny arcade wasn’t down now tho.

  28. Almighty Peanut says:
  29. Paul in SF says:

    I love it when folks think they only need to be polite to customers who are important.

    Years ago I heard of a fellow who walked up to the man filling one of the vending machines at the huge Boeing aircraft factory in Washington state and explained that he had lost a dollar in the machine and asked if he could please get a refund. Instead of simply giving the fellow his dollar back, the service man went off on a rant about how he was sick and tired of people trying to scam him for money or free candy, and if he wanted a refund he could write or call the vending company’s main office and request one.

    The next day when that service man and his fellow vending machine employees arrived at Boeing to fill their hundreds of machines throughout the vast plant they were dismayed to find all those machines in a huge pile in the parking lot. Yep. The guy who was dissed so badly when he asked for his buck back was the Boeing V.P. in charge of the whole factory.

  30. Paul in SF says:

    I love it when folks think they only need to be polite to customers who are important.

    Years ago I heard of a fellow who walked up to the man filling one of the vending machines at the huge Boeing aircraft factory in Washington state and explained that he had lost a dollar in the machine and asked if he could please get a refund. Instead of simply giving the fellow his dollar back, the service man went off on a rant about how he was sick and tired of people trying to scam him for money or free candy, and if he wanted a refund he could write or call the vending company’s main office and request one.

    The next day when that service man and his fellow vending machine employees arrived at Boeing to fill their hundreds of machines throughout the vast plant they were dismayed to find all those machines in a huge pile in the parking lot. Yep. The guy who was dissed so badly when he asked for his buck back was the Boeing V.P. in charge of the whole factory.

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      That story was actually good enough to be posted twice. I applaud you sir.

  31. El_Red says:

    I started reading, and then my jaw dropped. It’s like watching toddlers fight.

    The company should have sent the controller with tracking, end of story…
    Client’s email was not the most polite one, but he did not insult anyone personally. Failure to communicate =/= bad client.

    • dolemite says:

      That email is like the middle of the exchanges. He was extremely polite for the few few weeks of emails. You have to start at the beginning to understand why the wrath of the internet was awakened. The customer was nothing but polite and patient for the first few weeks.

  32. mister_roboto says:

    “Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up. Grow up you look like a complete child bro.”

    The Jersey Shore is not a how-to documentary.

    • Kung Foo says:

      I’m still trying to figure out how “website” made it’s way into killing “was.”

      “Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up.”

      Evil word in the spell check or accidental copy&paste or what? Then again, looking at this, what spell check…?

  33. Forex Software Guy says:

    I find it hilarious that a pr and marketing firm go such bad publicity. They really should know that the gaming niche is strong on the internet and takes care of it’s own. The other thing is that if you don’t want your personal business on the internet, don’t be a bastard.

  34. teamplur says:

    I’ve been off and on following these controller add-ons off an on since they first started selling them. It started as a very small, own-garage type operation. From what I read, sales were far exceeding what they could produce and send out. They seem to have done quite a bit of expanding but delivery times were really terrible last time I looked. (6-12 weeks?). As many of us who have worked in customer service can tell you, a customer that pushes the right buttons can push you over the edge in a moment of weakness. I think this is a case of a small company in a big game. And being small lets the tough customer service stuff run up hill.
    Look at Mojang. Notch has had his share of bad press due to his direct involvement in CS issues.
    Over all I think they could have handled it better, but it’s not gonna stop me from picking up one if I see it in store and I have extra cash to spend. (no way in hell am I paying to wait a month or more tho)

  35. failurate says:

    I had trouble following the conversation, mostly because my brain was picturing each part of the conversation being spoken by Comic Book Guy.

  36. Yeah Right says:

    Apparently someone has hacked the CEO’s Facebook page an posted a info on a Domestic Violence case against him. He’s a real winner.

  37. Snip says:

    “Hardcore gamers. We’re a demanding, vocal customer but the flip side is we’re loyal and eager to spend.”

    This is no joke, y’all. Gamers are easily the most aggressive consumer a CSR could ever deal with, kind of like Bull Sharks compared to other breeds of sharks. But like Bull Sharks, they are insatiable consumers and will spend a lot of money in one place if it suits them. But you better prepare your ass if you’re going to sell to them.

  38. Rocket says:

    According to Reddit everything on Ocean Marketing’s wwebsite was plagiarized.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnMPztotGCGadE1sQkV4aDlOVWRFTGtkS1VzUldHRnc#gid=0