Santa knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, and if you’re extreme enough the rest of the world probably will too. Nobody is more aware of that today than Paul Christoforo, a public relations professional who ridiculed and taunted a customer inquiring whether or not the N-Control Avenger controllers he ordered would arrive in time for Christmas. Christoforo and his company Ocean Marketing, Inc. provide marketing services for N-Control products, and a series of increasingly hostile email exchanges published on Penny Arcade last night reveal that you should probably avoid patronizing any business represented by Ocean Marketing if you prize good customer service, timely product delivery or cogent sentences.
While details are still surfacing about Ocean Marketing and their relationship with N-Control, the story itself is pretty straightforward: N-Control customer Dave pre-ordered two Avenger PS3 controllers on November 3rd with the expectation of receiving them before Christmas, but they never shipped. After waiting more than a month, Dave emailed Ocean Marketing a request for more information and whether or not he could expect to receive his order in time for Christmas.
Paul Christoforo responded to Dave’s request with a date (December 17th, the following day) but after three days with no shipping confirmation Dave emailed Paul again, asking when he could expect to receive the products he paid for. Christoforo then told Dave his controllers would arrive “either before or after Christmas”; when Dave complained about the delay and about being precluded from taking advantage of the $10 discount being offered to mollify customers, Christoforo threatened to cancel the order completely and instructed Dave to “put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else.”
The conversation went downhill from there. You can and should read the complete transcript on the Penny Arcade website; while Christoforo’s emails are startlingly juvenile and littered with grammatical errors, they’re an excellent example of how poor marketing and customer service can devastate the reputation of a manufacturer. By all accounts the N-Control Avenger is a perfectly serviceable controller that makes it easier for handicapped players to enjoy their favorite video games, and N-Control Business Development Director Frank Shephard has posted a public apology for Christoforo’s actions on his Twitter feed.
This isn’t the first time Ocean Marketing has been publicly lambasted for mistreating consumers; N-Control patron Nathan Stansell published a similar series of emails that include hostile conversations with Ocean Marketing representatives, including Christoforo. We contacted Mike Krahulik at Penny Arcade and Paul Christoforo himself for comment, but as of publication neither had responded to our request for more information.
UPDATE: The Ocean Marketing Twitter account listed on Penny Arcade has been changed to @OceanStratagy; an enterprising gamer has claimed the old account (@OceanMarketting) and is using it to promote indie game developers and gaming-related charities.
UPDATE: Christoforo appears to have sent the customer in question a formal apology. Chris Barr at GamerFront published a copy of the apology here.