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.


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.

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