“Twas the month of Christmas, when all through the web
A Fail went so viral it made him a celeb.
His emails were taken, his meme almost finished,
Poor Paul Christoforo’s reputation? Very diminished.”
My sincerest apologizes for butchering “The Night Before Christmas.” But I only did so to bring you this cautionary tale of the power of the internet and how there really is such a thing as “bad PR.”
I am of course speaking of Ocean Marketing and its founder Paul Christoforo, who shows us just how bad it can get for you when you act like a jerk on the internet. While yes, there are many trolls out there, the lack of tact that this “PR specialist” displayed in handling a customer complaint is beyond anything I have seen; even Netflix can’t hold a candle to this guy.
It was all concerning The Avenger controller which was supposed to be shipped out early in December. The promise was that those who had pre-ordered the product (with an upfront payment mind you) would have it in time for Christmas. But the promise was broken and no one who had pre-ordered the controller received it. So a concerned customer, “Dave,” contacted the company asking for an update as to when he could expect his two controllers. The only response he got was a cryptic “Dec 17” from Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo. When Dave did not receive the package he was waiting for on Dec 17th, he promptly emailed Paul back asking for another update. This is, judging from the following email correspondence, when Paul lost all sanity (and language skills).
In his follow up emails to Dave’s understandable questions, Christoforo proceeded to become increasingly defensive and verbally abusive towards Dave (aka the customer). Not only did Christoforo show terrible customer service, addressing Dave as “Dan” and accusing him of being a broke teenager who doesn’t understand the way the video game industry works, he started to dig himself deeper into his grave.
Tired of the verbal abuse and needing a way to vent his frustrations, Dave emailed several news groups, including Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade.
In a previous email, Paul had mentioned that the controller in question had been at PAX East, which caught Krahulik’s eye. Krahulik responded to both Dave and Christoforo, stating that “if this guy has a booth at Pax East we will cancel it.” And what was Christoforo’s reply? If you guessed a dignified and mature response you guessed wrong. Instead this was the nature of the dialogue:
Oh wait, it gets better.
Christoforo goes on to threaten Krahulik, saying that he’ll “put [his] marketing team on a smear campaign of Krahulik and [his] site and [his] emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am .” My, aren’t we cocky. Christoforo clearly had no idea who he was talking to, proving once again that ignorance is death.
Well Christoforo’s rudeness was not taken too lightly by Krahulik, who posted the entire back and forth emails on penny arcade. They are well worth a read so please do here. My jaw literally dropped as I continued to read the venomous (and almost illegible) emails Christoforo wrote.
So what happened? This story went viral, and away went Christoforo’s good reputation. Not only was he fired from handling customer relations and PR for The Avenger, but he has become the object of ridicule for the online community, receiving thousands of antagonizing emails, begetting a video parody, and becoming the butt of a joke from Geico referencing one of his emails.
Christoforo has stated that aside from the emails, his wife and child have also received threats. This is something which should stop, immediately. Harassing his wife on Facebook and leaving threatening messages on her phone is not OK. But as for Christoforo? I won’t lose any sleep over a bully receiving some negative emails, especially when he is clearly not sorry for his actions:
I didn’t know who that guy at Penny Arcade was,” he admitted. “If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better.”
In other words, “I’m only nice to important people.”
But to be fair, you can get Christoforo’s side of the story by reading the full interview with the man himself on Forbes.
PR people/anyone online be warned, be careful about what you say… with the internet, you never know where it could end up.