I’m sure that by now most of the people who read this have heard about Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo’s social media disaster involving some extremely rude e-mail replies he made to a customer. The replies went from rude to comical as Christoforo began dropping names in the video game industry, misspelling words, acting like a big shot, and claiming to know the Mayor of Boston. Throw in misspellings in the e-mails and even on 2 of Christoforo’s Twitter accounts, steroid allegations and an overwhelmingly douchebag attitude and you can see how the target couldn’t get much better. The customer, Dave, copied the editor of Penny Arcade Mike Krahulik in one of the replies, and after Christoforo had a brief exchange with Mike, who owns the Pax East trade show, Mike let Paul know he was soon to be a celebrity.
If we want to be there we will be there with industry badges or with a booth you think I can’t team up with turtle beach , Callibur or Koy Christmas , I can’t get Kevin Kelly to pull some strings or G4 , Paul Eibler Ex CEO of take 2 , Rich Larocco Konami , Cliff Blizinski Epic who were working with on a gears version , Activision who were working with on a MW3 and Spider man Bundle , The Convention Center Owners themselves , Mayor of Boston come on Bud you run a show that’s all you do and lease a center in Cities you have no pull in. – Paul Christoforo dropping names of people he doesn’t know to Mike Krahulik, Owner of Pax East
The next day Krahulik ran an article with a transcript of the e-mails and Christoforo done something he had wanted to do for years being an online marketer, he went viral. To give you some context, the original dispute was over a video game controller add on that was shipped late and the customer just wanted to know if he’d get it before Christmas.
I’ve heard it said that on the Internet men are men, women are fake, and children are the FBI. I remember being online when I was 14, you don’t want to mess with every 14 year old with a computer. Kids don’t need incentive to put in the work, they grew up on technology, they are anonymous and 4chan. While Christoforo spewed threats of how important he was and who he knew he obviously didn’t expect to get the ire of the editor of Penny Arcade, but his real screw up was the gamer demographic that began a smear and harassment campaign of Godzilla proportions. Customers boycotted the controller and actually dropped the score on Amazon to 1 star. It has effectively de-railed a product that was due to sell a million or more.
Mike Krahulik: I do run Pax, but I also run a website called penny arcade. It’s kinda popular.
Paul Christoforo: Love penny Arcade !!
Mike Krahulik: I’m glad you like it! You will be on it tomorrow:)
Christoforo had a bad evening, he had to change Twitter IDs and cancel his Google voice account. By the next morning he sent a groveling e-mail begging Krahulik to “Make it stop”, but even Krahulik knew that it was too late, the faucet was on and the knob is broke. Paul Christoforo really sounded like he was sorry he got punked, the fact he was a douchebag still comes across even in his online responses.
He tried to salvage some of his reputation by doing some interviews with other websites, including MSNBC, but ultimately a guy who is unlikeable to begin with can only make it worse. He said he didn’t lose any clients yet and that he had gained hundreds of Twitter followers, and he actually thinks that this will eventually die down and those followers will forget and end up loving him. Paul, go ahead and sale your computers because you’ve bought and paid for this reputation… its forever.
“You have the power Mike Please make it stop” -Paul Christoforo’s plea early the next day
The incident reminded me of a little online fiasco called “The Cook’s Source”. You see in 2010 a woman named Judith Griggs was ousted for violating the copyright of an article written by Monica Gaudio. This is a routine occurrence online, but in reality Griggs’ print publication “The Cook’s Source” had been plagiarizing most of its content for years. Initially Gaudio asked for an apology and a 130$ donation to the Columbia school of journalism, but instead she got some ridiculously obnoxious e-mails from Griggs who said Gaudio should pay her for editing her horrible article. Griggs clearly didn’t understand copyright law and anything she said that wasn’t aggressive was passive aggressive: enter the Internet.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered ‘public domain’ and you should be happy we just didn’t ‘lift’ your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free! – Judith Griggs’ original response to Monica Gaudio
Several bloggers and online celebrities took up the cause and within 2 weeks Cook Source was out of business. After Griggs realized that she was in the wrong and began to receive an enormous amount of harassment she posted an apology to Gaudio on her web page. The apology tried to antagonize Gaudio and further verified Judith Griggs’ personality. Linda Holmes of NPR said “[the apology] actually sounds a lot like the e-mail Gaudio got in the first place: defiant, sure of its correctness, and, in the end, kind of baffling.” John Scalzi’s response was “This is the apology of someone who is sorry she got caught, not the apology of someone who feels she has done wrong.” Scalzi was one of the writers who originally broke the story, and the personification of Judith Griggs as “Someone who is sorry they got caught” is remarkably similar to Krahulik’s characterization of Paul Christoforo.
Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Monica via email, but aparently it wasnt enough for her. To all of you, thank you for your interest in Cooks Source and Again, to Monica, I am sorry — my bad!
You did find a way to get your “pound of flesh…” we used to have 110 “friends,” we now have 1,870… wow!
Best to all, Judith
-Judith Griggs’ half hearted apology posted to The Cook’s Source page
I believe the Internet brings out the aggressive side of people who are passively aggressive douchebags in real life. What we have in both instances are conceited villains who snap at innocent bystanders and in doing so display both arrogance and ignorance. Judith Griggs surely thought she was one of the most gifted editors in print media, and Paul Christoforo knew was dropping names faster than his Twitter account the next day. By belittling the victims who were in the end representative of average Internet users it was impossible not to dislike these two. They both go on to further mark themselves as ignorant bad guys who still think they’re superior by offering half-hearted apologies and never really backing off of their characterizations of the victims as the cause of their problems.
Christoforo thinks he can still be a marketer and that this will blow over. Since the similarities with the Cook’s Source is so striking, I’m thinking he’ll suffer trolling and harassment for a long time to come. Judith Griggs still runs a Facebook fan page with 294 fans called “I Love to Cook”. She even tried branding it as a page for religion and Christianity first and cooking second to try and lessen any blowback from the fiasco she faced more than a year ago. Still with no identifying labels every single post is answered with reminders that she was an editor who didn’t know copyright law and that she is one of the worst business minds in the history of the world.
Paul Christoforo seems to be enjoying his 15 minutes of viral fame. Besides giving several interviews, the Escapist Magazine reports he has also tried to extort money out of N-Control through their new head of PR. Christoforo is trying to paint the whole fiasco as a win, even going so far as to call it “the best thing that could have happened to N-Control”. His actions once again conjure up deja-vu from Griggs’ humble brag about her 1,000 new Facebook friends, but as we saw they just “Liked” her because they hate her, and the 15 minutes of fame turn into an excruciatingly slow IV drip of a constant reminder from the new “Friends” of just how bad you are at dealing with the public.
The reality is that once I had posted the emails I didn’t have the power anymore. The Internet had it now and nothing I said or did was going to change that. -Mike Krahulik regarding Christoforo’s request that he do something
Social Media has caused this type of customer relations mistake as well as other types to happen more often, become much larger, spread quicker, and cause much more damage. In the last week both Bill Maher and Kasey Kahne of NASCAR fame both posted Tweets that were quite damaging putting them on the defensive. If in December of 2012 I’m writing an article about another little known prick e-mail composer, there is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t have their face rubbed in this article for not learning from viral mistakes of others. Do you still want to be the viral virus?
On an added note from me, here is the e-mail Dave sent Mike and Paul after Mike got involved.
Hey thanks Mike. It’s truly a shame because I think this device is great for gamers with disabilities and problems. I think of Child’s Play and if anyone’s gonna need greater accessibility when using complicated gamepads…it’s sick kids! Shit man, I’m really gonna feel bad if I think that sick children may somewhere down the line have fewer avenger controllers because I got into a pissing match with a sad old man. Please don’t cancel their booth on my account. As much as I hate this asshole, I still WANT his product and think it should be out there. -Dave
Just like Monica Gaudio, Dave was not a very difficult customer. He was actually very nice in the first e-mails. He was trying to curb the backlash before it even happened. It could be because online detectives have discovered connections between an e-mail Christoforo lists and posts on a steroid users forum, and he just lost his job on account of him, has his address name and credit info, and may be disgruntled. Dave truly seems like a good kid, much like Gaudio asking for a donation instead of direct compensation. These cases are both the perfect storm of characters, events and an anonymous online mob that is always listening, always vigilant.
EDIT: Apparently I was correct about this whole fiasco being a direct result of Paul’s personality. He has had a handful of prior incidents in which customers of the N-Control Avenger have publicly complained after being the victim of bad customer service. Here is one documented by Nathan Stansell.