Fail… Epic Fail

Today should be a red letter day in my diary. I don’t have a diary, so instead I share everything with you.

Most days, whoop de doo, I know. “Dear lord, how many years can this idiot keep blathering about a video game?”

Today is not that day. Today is “Share a moment of hilarity” day.

Do you read the webcomic Penny Arcade?

Part of the singular joy of Penny Arcade is the combination of mocking imagery and erudite commentary. You get a collaborative webcomic mostly about video games, and then you get what boils down to a blog post that might tie in loosely to the comic, or might wander far afield, but never disappoints in entertainment value.

It’s impossible for me to do justice to all that is Penny Arcade without being overly verbose, even for me. I’m trying.

I guess the best I can say is, two guys started to draw webcomics about video games on the internet, and in the years since they have grown into a major force within the video game industry itself. Penny Arcade webcomics have grown into Penny Arcade Expo video game conventions on both coasts (PAX East and PAX West), and all sorts of other influential activities.

There is so much more, but the point is these guys are heavy hitters in the video game industry… but they’re still two creative, imaginative guys, they’re not MBA suits trying to weasel their way up a corporate ladder by edging out Stan in accounting or Emma in marketing.

This brings me to today, and the blog posts that have gone live in the last two days on Penny Arcade.

It turns out that there was this dude, and he pre-ordered some gaming gear on the internet, paid in advance in full, waited months for his product to arrive in time for Christmas, and when the original ship dates were missed, emailed in to customer service to see what was up.

Sound at all familiar to anyone? I know I’ve been in that position before. Most of us have, by now, if you order from small businesses with an internet storefront, or do pre-orders of cutting edge gear.

What made this special, was that he got some truly legendary replies that started a conversation of epic fail rolling… and drug Mike Krahulik, one of the aforesaid video game heavy hitters, into the mix.

From that point on, it’s been the stuff of rapidly growing legend.

I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks. If you haven’t seen this stuff yet, I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I have.

At Penny Arcade, the first mention and majority of “Are you freaking kidding me?”.

Then, an update to the “WTF”

Then today, there was a Penny Arcade comic devoted to the hilarity that has ensued, and really, wouldn’t you expect one at this point?

And then, the accompanying articles, making it pretty clear that Paul is getting royally buttsurfed by the internets today. Right now. As you are reading this, a man’s professional life is spiraling down the shitter.

Already, gamers are running with this, and again, why wouldn’t we? Penny Arcade links to a kickass video about it already out (in one freaking day! OMG!)

Oh, it’s just getting started. I can already see this is gonna be the target of choice for mocking this week. Pauls’ emails are insanely quotable. 

What I love the most about this whole thing is, this has all descended on someone who is part of a PR/Marketing firm that somehow is clueless as to what the internet really is, how it works, and how eternal an email can be. Once you send those words, they’re gone, and you have zip control over what happens next. 

I have no sympathy for him. At all.

I ain’t even IN customer service or PR, and I sure as hell don’t get to walk up to customers visiting our plant or respond to their calls and tell them, “Oh hey, you don’t like the delay on our ship commitment to you? Well, suck it bitches, if you don’t like it, we’ll just take the shit you bought and sell it on ebay!”

In what universe do you think that is in any way remotely professional?

It’s not professional, but it sure is entertaining!

Since somehow my link to aforesaid kickass video was broken, here is the video embedded for your viewing pleasure. NSFW!!!

24 thoughts on “Fail… Epic Fail

  1. Love it. Been a regular reader of Penny Arcade for quite some time [might have even first heard about it on this site many, many moons ago, come to think of it…], and while it’s a part of my regular webcomic-reading routine, I rarely click through to the blog posts. Glad you pointed me that direction.

    Dude is a prime example of anti-customer-service. While it’s certainly a fallacy that “the customer is always right,” as someone who’s worn the mask of happy-smiley-customer-service-boy for many years, my philosophy is, in a nutshell: “Let’s keep the customer as happy as we feasibly can, so that they keep coming back, so that our company keeps making money, so that I keep getting paid.” It’s my fervent hope that this complete cockholster never gets paid again, and his innocent wife and child never speak to him again. Power to the underdog, motherfucker.


    • Addendum:

      Being only 38, buddy is of an age with myself. Given the tone & writing style of Customer Dave, it’s a fairly safe bet that he’s in his teens to 20’s, and therefore, it’s unlikely that Paul “wwebsite as on the internet” before Dave was born, since I was at least in my mid-20’s when the Internet came into common usage.

      Also, by the tone of his e-mails and physical appearance [plus the impression I get that cocaine is likely his drug of choice], Paul seems to be the kind of prick that has been a bully for a long time. And as one who tended to be the target of such people earlier in life, it gives me no end of pleasure to see someone like that see his chosen tactics backfire on him as he comes to realize he’s not as big a fish as he thinks he is.


  2. Done some PR work for local athletes, with little formal training. I certainly made some mistakes, but mercifully, never to the extent this clown has. I mean, honestly, the customer is ALWAYS right, even when they’re wrong. When in doubt, consult that rule again!


    • Ah, but I think the heart of the matter is the question, “Who is the customer?”

      To you and me, the customer here is Dave.

      To Paul Cristoforo… the customer was N-Control, and kissing the ass of N-Control and making THEM happy was job #1. And for paul Cristoforo, the product he had to provide was his supposed high level connections in the retail marketplace. His job, despite how things are being spun, was to take the Avenger controller and get it parked on store shelves in Frye’s Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart sized retailers. Paul has stated in previous emails to other customers like Dave that he had taken over the handling of individual end-user accounts from a different team, was overloaded with emails he wasn’t equipped to handle, and in thiose emails made it pretty clear that he felt he was lowering himself to deal with end user customers that are too small individually to matter to him.

      When people say that this will someday be a case study in marketing and PR failure, I think they’re dead right. The primary failure here is, a high level PR deal maker used to the name dropping, schmoozing, take the client to a five martini lunch excursion or give them tickets to the Yankees game type of salesman decided to also assume responsibility for individual end user customer service instead of having personnel actually trained in the process and with time in their schedule handle it. It was pure failure, especially for someone who supposedly had offices with 125 employees capable of handling that stuff.

      To Paul, if every purchaser of The Avenger is angry, that doesn’t matter because they aren’t his potential future customers – other companies bringing products to market are his customers.

      This only started getting real to him when it looked like he had pissed off HIS client base by having his arrogant name calling outed.


  3. Hey BBB reminds me of a flip side to a website you turned me on to years ago. The one with the guy who had a video store and some moronic customers…can’t remember the name


    • Oh, shit… OH SHIT!

      I remember that! Oh damn, I have to find that guys website, this is the internet, it’s gotta be there somewhere, wars may come and wars may go but stupid shit on the internet is immortal.


  4. I have seen many things on the internet that have made my jaw drop, but they are all as nothing as to this entire episode in unrivalled stupidity, arrogance, and a man’s total self belief that he is always right and not to blame for anything. I predict that this will be studied in future marketing courses at universities around the world. And unless Paul changes his name I doubt he will ever work again.


  5. As I noted on another site talking about this… I’d never heard of this controller or company before – I’m not a console gamer, so that doesn’t matter. I do, however, know a lot of console gamers who also hadn’t heard of this controller before now. They’re excited.

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity. This certainly is proof of that!


  6. @bbb
    Is it really that much of a stretch to think that someone on the Internet made a threat, death or other harm, against his family? It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, for far smaller offenses. Ruin his career, sure. But enough with the crazy threats, interneters!


    • No, it’s not much of a stretch at all. I’ve been on the receiving end of threats myself, and at one point a threat against my son, and all I do is write on a WoW blog.

      But, at the same time… while pleasing for people to stop bothering him, he also seemed to be trying to paint all the people objecting to his idiocy as belinging to the ‘crazy death threats against my family” crowd, which is disingenuous at best.


  7. Thanks for the post. I kept seeing references to ocean marketing without understanding them.

    BTW this is my first reply but I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (since wow insider ) and love it. Thank you BBB


  8. I was so baffled at the sheer arrogance of a guy that cannot even write two lines without spelling errors. all the lols, “bro”, “yo man” hood-speech seriously makes me wonder how they employ their staff over there. that employee is a disgrace. also loved “he’s a customer unless you’re his boyfriend then you should side with the company not the customer” coming from a CC guy…

    Didn’t see the follow-up strips and video by PA yet, have to check those now. =)
    (just seen your video link is a dead one?)


    • Sorry, just saw you say that the link to the video was dead, so I pulled the link and added the video in embed at the bottom. hehehe.


  9. This is the flavour of internet based justice that makes my day. If only that dumb fool hadn’t been such a prick. Its a tad too far to actually threaten his family though; think about it – they already have to live with the stupid bastard.


  10. Ironically, the closest I’ve seen to Paul in professional conduct from a major company is Blizzard. Blizzard gets away with some incredibly distasteful communication with their client base at times. While they’ve never been this bad, some of the events, like the Corpsegrinder fiasco, not to mention some of their smugger CMs, you can certainly see it from there.


  11. With his illegible writing, I’m surprised anyone hires him in the first place. There are better canned-response templates than that. “English, ####, do you speak it?” etc.

    Regarding his backpedaling and waffling all over…at least the bullies I had in middle school could actually prick my self-esteem and push me around when I pushed back. An ineffective bully is just pathetic and laughable.


  12. Wow……Epic Dumbass ……at least the company is making things as right as possible.Dave should be getting a full refund AND the controllers!!! lol…..again….Epic Dumbass Paul…simple…easy fix from the start….and he had several “bad days”….lol.

    Always enjoy reading you BBB!!


  13. If there’s one thing the internets haet, it’s a phoney, and this guy oozes phoney out of every pore. The sad thing is that world of PR and MBAs greasing each other just perpetuates itself as they seem to have an agreement to pretend to not notice how lame they are. It’s like a LARP, only with good people’s money. Pisses me off to no end, so I always raise a glass when one of these guys gets splashed.

    Good thing for Paul is, nobody looks at your name tag in a toll booth.


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