Ocean Marketing PR Suicide: Penny Arcade Cries Foul

Read our latest update on the situation Avenger N-control: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

[easyazon_image asin=”B0051JSJ44″ alt=”The Avenger – Xbox 360 Adapter” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41xY6KYNrPL.jpg” align=”right” width=”240″ height=”240″]Public relations is becoming more and more of a dying art in this day and age.  Recent examples like GoDaddy adamantly supporting SOPA in an arguably overconfident blog post only to retract it later is powerful evidence of this.  A certain PR stunt that Ocean Marketing just committed however truly takes the cake.

I bet a large number of you  out there know about the mysterious and murky process known as pre-ordering.  For the few that don’t, pre-ordering is the process of placing an order for a product that hasn’t been released yet in order to secure your personal copy of the item.  Patience is truly a virtue and complaining about not receiving a product on time isn’t always the best of policies.  However, as a sign of courtesy, it is a nice gesture of the company to keep you in the know regarding when you may actually receive your product and not tweak your nose especially after you already paid them for the item.

Enter Dave – the proverbial “Everyman” of pre-ordering game accessories.  He contacts Ocean Marketing in the following cordial email simply requesting some updates on the delivery status of his [easyazon-link asin=”B0051JSJ44″]Avenger controller accessory[/easyazon-link] because his account had already been deducted the difference.

The following exchanges are quoted from this Penny Arcade post.

“I ordered 2 of the upcoming PS3 controllers (invoice xxxxxxxxx—Nov 3, 2011). Any chance of getting an update of when these items will ship? I’m not really happy about being forced to pay upfront then have the advertised date of “Early December” be completely missed without any sort of update on availability. I really need one of them for a X-mas present as well. Anyways, looking forward to finally using one of these bad boys. Thanks and happy holidays.” – Dave the customer

He receives several short and cryptic responses with a date but obviously those dates fail to be honored.  He sends another inquiry – this time pointing out how he isn’t even benefiting from the $10 off customers receive if they order the product now.

“I noticed the updated info on the webpage, and I don’t understand why there is absolutely no benefit given to those like me who have already ordered, and paid their money.  You’ve had my money interest free for nearly two months, yet now ANY new order will get $10 off….meaning I should just cancel my order for 2 controllers, get my money back, then re-order.” – Dave the customer

The following comes from the next series of responses by Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo and the conversation starts going downhill from there – both tonally and grammatically.

“No one is allowed to cancel and re order if we catch anyone doing it we will simply just cancel your order all together and you can buy it retail somewhere else. […] im sure you don’t complain to activision or epic games so put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else. […] Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself.” – Paul from Ocean Marketing

Dave gets noticeably upset and uses a few choice words in describing how Paul’s response was patronizing and far from helpful.  This doesn’t manage to bring out Paul’s PR expertise – or lack there of – and he goes on name dropping about who he knows in the gaming industry.  He wraps up the email with the following paragraph.

“You just got told b**** … welcome to the real internet check kotaku in 2 weeks when they are reviewing free PS3 Avengers we send them as well as G4 and all the other majors hell yeah , don’t forget to check Amazon, gamestop.com, play n trade , Myers , Frys and a ton of other local stores coming your way you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month.” – Paul from Ocean Marketing

At this point Dave takes matters into his own hands and contacts several game review sites and communities including Kotaku and Penny ArcadeMike Krahulik from Penny Arcade becomes so dismayed that he promised to deny Ocean Marketing a booth at the PAX East game convention – an event which Mike actually founded.  Paul casually tries to play him off, stating that he could easily get fixed up with a PAX booth if his company desired it, and decides to throw in this last distasteful statement as the cherry on top.

“Anyway , I have no issue with you Sean Buckley Engadget, Scott Lowe IGN and the list goes on and on. Little kids unhappy with a PRE ORDER starting trouble and you email that to us , he’s a customer unless you’re his boyfriend then you should side with the company not the customer. Be Careful” – Paul from Ocean Marketing

No longer interested in politely telling Paul to quit while he was ahead, Mike informs Paul that he is also one of the artists for the popular webcomic Penny Arcade, known for its hilarious commentary on gamer culture.  Paul offered what might be interpreted as a weak apology and gleefully welcomed the PR that Mike could possibly bring.  Unimpressed, Mike sent this final email Paul’s way.

“Please remove me from this mailing list” – Mike from Penny Arcade

The response to this PR fiasco has been far from Paul and Ocean Marketing’s favor.  Twitter has been abuzz with several tweets booing @OceanMarketting’s (UPDATE: The account was deleted and later remade by a good natured jokester to promote indie games – the official Ocean Marketing account is now @OceanStratagy) lack of customer care.  Tweets from Engadget, IGN, and many other gamer culture sites have disavowed any supposed support for Paul or the company he represents.

It is unfortunate that Paul’s PR suicide is jeopardizing the chances for the [easyazon-link asin=”B0051JSJ44″]Avenger controller accessory[/easyazon-link].  The design suggests that it could be very useful for disabled gamers because it’s triggers allow you to hit face buttons with little to no pressure.  I cannot speak for its build quality – which several Amazon reviewers (arguably many of whom are fake) have claimed is poor – but it would have been nice to see this thing take off.  Firms like Ocean Marketing need to stomach the reality that customers will not accept such crass and poor service.  The only positive that can come out of this is inclusion in a PR manual’s chapter on “Don’t Let This Happen to You.”

Who do you believe was in the wrong – Dave the customer or Paul from Ocean Marketing?

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 8:44 PM PST:

Eli Schwartz (@TheSchwartz173 on Twitter) is now the man in charge of getting the [easyazon-link asin=”B005CMZJL6″]Avenger controller accessory[/easyazon-link] back on its feet. He has worked tirelessly around the clock to represent Avenger in a much classier light. This will be the last update posted to this particular article, you can read more in our latest post Avenger N-control: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 4:09 PM PST:
Details regarding the promised apology to Mike from Penny Arcade were finally posted. Mike revealed that Paul, after first threatening to sue, sent a one sentence email. In it, Paul implores Mike to make it stop because he “has the power.” Rightfully so, Mike acknowledges how the internet is a cruel hydra. You chop one head and another pops up. Here were a few of Mike’s personal thoughts on the matter. You can read the full post here.

I think there is a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught. I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. – Mike from Penny Arcade

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 1:42 PM PST:
Did Ocean Marketing just get the boot?  An email is circulating around that comes from info@avengercontroller.com stating that this is the case.  If so, then I believe that it would be a step in the right direction for Avenger.

Thank you for your email.

Due to the overwhelming customer feedback we’re getting from the situation with Ocean Marketing we are asking those with specific product related concerns to send emails to customerservice@avengercontroller.co

Please know that Ocean Marketing is no longer handling any PR or customer service for our company. We apologize to our customers for Ocean Marketing’s remark to one of our customers. We at Kotkin Enterprises know that it’s our customers are the true arbiters of our products success and we would never intentionally jeopardize what we see as a relationship between us and our customers. We hope that this incident hasn’t put you off of purchasing a truly revolutionary controller.

Thank you for expressing your concerns and we hope for your continued support in the future.

Kotkin Enterprises Avenger Controller Customer Service Team

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 1:21 PM PST:
Kotaku.com made an effort to contact the Director of Marketing for the Avenger controller accessories Brandon Leidel.  They sent it to his direct address Brandon@AvengerController.com.  They received an odd reply to their message not from Brandon’s main address but rather from cstrophic@hotmail.com.  A quick Google search reveals a tweet that states that this is a public email address typically used by Paul Christoforo and not Mr. Leidel.

Hey Joel,

3rd party agency we were using to help us through the Holidays . I think things are a bit blown out of proportion on this today.

Brandon Leidel,
Director of Marketing

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 12:38 PM PST:
Here is a video of Paul showing off the [easyazon-link asin=”B0051JSJ44″]Avenger controller accessory[/easyazon-link] at PAX East back in April.

[youtube width=”550″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIAQ4-TBC1A[/youtube]

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 12:26 PM PST:
Examiner.com points out possible evidence of Ocean Marketing lifting articles off the web with no attribution whatsoever.  Goodness, this is starting to look worse and worse by the minute.

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 11:19 AM PST:
Gamerfront.net claims to have received a copy of an apology letter sent to Dave’s email from Paul Christoforo.  Here is an excerpt from the letter in which Paul profusely apologizes and blames his rude replies on a bad and trying day.

I ask that you please accept my apology as a peace offering I will refund your money and give you your 2 units/Avengers free of charge please help me to get some of this negativity removed or at least my personal name although its already all over the internet and the calls and emails will not stop but any help will be appreciated especially with penny arcade as Mike and edit his own website I owe him an apology too which I will write next. – Paul from Ocean Marketing

UPDATE Dec. 27, 2011 10:54 AM PST:

Gabe aka Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade reports in a tweet receiving an email that threatens to sue for sharing the details about this customer’s dissatisfaction.

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