The Hatchet Man of AOL Retention

Here’s a little ditty about an AOL hatchet man who took a perverse pleasure in firing retention consultants.

Back in 2003, Kurt Walker was an Associate General Manager in the Oklahoma call center. His nickname, “The Hatchet,” derived from the “gleam in his eyes and a smile on his face” when motivating the Saves Coaches to fire employees.

One saves coach, Dan Critchfield, sent around a mass email to his higherups, declaiming, “I have grown weary of Kurt telling…on an almost daily basis, in our Team huddles…About how much “fun it was” to fire certain people.” Of Kurt, Dan said:

“My true impression is that of a sociopath with no conscience.”

After an email was sent around encouraging saves coaches to up their numbers, Kurt sent his own to hammer in the message. While his took a strong tone, with lines like, “10 calls a day will keep the unemployment office at bay” and “Do these things mean anything to you?” he seemed to feel he was looking out for his worker’s best interests. “You may not agree with me right now, but I am going to force you to make money,” Kurt wrote.

After his email didn’t go over well, Kurt arranged an emergency team potluck. One that was meticulously organized

There were to be two green veggies, two side dishes, two salads and three deserts. No more, no less. Everything was micromanaged to the last asparagus.

The sender of this email, who we previously interviewed, doesn’t know what happened to Dan. “I am sure he was fired,” he says. “That is what we refer to as “Final Flame Email”. These were popular…their last way to stab at the company they had come to hate.”

Presented in its epic entirety after the jump…

Red arrows point to the juicy bits.