Remember Paul Christoforo? The "marketing rep" for the Avenger gaming controllers who caused quite a stir this week by doing just about everything wrong
in responding to a customer service request, and then missing no opportunity to make the situation worse at every turn -- especially after Gabe (aka Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade) got involved. It involved pretty much everything: dreadful customer service, false claims, anger, curses, bravado, promises that couldn't be kept, an absolute refusal to back down, and an apology for getting caught (rather than an apology for the actual actions).
You might think that, after the widespread backlash and a couple days to reflect (especially after getting fired from handling the Avenger account), Paul might come back a bit more humble and with a bit more perspective on what he did. In fact, that's exactly what I expected when I saw the headline of Kotaku's interview with him: Chastened Gaming Rep Paul Christoforo Responds to Internet Infamy
Then I read it. And, all I can say is that Paul doesn't seem to know how to stop himself from digging himself a deeper hole. A recommendation: in the future, maybe just don't speak up. Even as he claims
to have learned his lesson, his words show that he still wants to blame others and doesn't seem to recognize why what he did was wrong. He makes additional questionable statements, such as contradicting himself in the same interview
A chastened Christoforo is now looking for forgiveness from the Internet community he unwittingly antagonized, saying in an interview with MSNBC.com's In-Game he was "caught on a bad day" and that he hopes they will "let sleeping dogs lie."
"They've pretty much ruined me in the past 24 hours," Christoforo said. "It was humbling a little bit, but life goes on. I'm not going to die."
"Life goes on" and "I'm not going to die" are actually good mantras for getting through a tough situation, so I won't begrudge him those statements, but the overall sentiment that comes across here is that he's brushing off what happened, as if he needs to just ride out the storm, rather than fix what he did wrong. As for that first statement, about how he was ruined... just hang onto that one for a second, because soon after that, we get:
Yet despite all the drama, Christoforo said he hasn't lost any of his other accounts, aside from Avenger. "It hasn't affected my business yet," he said. "Clients have brought it up, but they've mainly laughed about it. I haven't lost any clients."
Wait, what happened to him being "ruined"? Then almost immediately after that he says it "hasn't affected" his business? I'm curious how many of his clients actually "laughed" about it. But really that's not the worst of it. As the interview goes on, Paul seems to show less and less understanding of what happened here.
"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. PAX is a great show. What he does is what I've been idlolizing since I was a kid. It's admirable he's put that together. He has a lot of connections, ones I want too."
Who Gabe is really is kind of meaningless here. Paul seems to be suggesting that it's okay to be a complete asshole to people so long as they're not important or don't have "connections." But if someone has "connections" then you should be nice to them. This certainly fits with Paul's claims during the email exchange, where he kept claiming that he had some special "connections."
As for all those "connections" he claimed? Yeah, not so much...
Regarding the litany of names Christoforo's e-mail called up as potential supporters - a list that included everyone from Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski to the mayor of Boston - he said the tactic was meant to "impress, not to threaten" and didn't come through correctly because "you can't see tone of voice in email."
"I don't know the mayor of Boston," he admitted. "That was taken totally out of context, I was just joking around. I am from Boston, though, and I know a lot of people people who own clubs. I know some influential people, like the guy who runs the door at the convention center.
Saying something you wish you didn't isn't others taking something "totally out of context." It just means you made up stuff and got called on it. And, um, the guy who runs the door at a convention center isn't generally considered "influential." Finally, nothing in the email suggested that naming those "connections" was meant to "impress, not to threaten."
And then there's this part, in which he shows that he's not really apologetic at all:
"He called me a bully, but he was being a bully ... especially when he emailed me out of the blue, saying 'That's f***ing s***ty, you're banned from PAX,' I was like 'Who the f*** are you? That's how you introduce yourself? ... I dont want to call him out, but he could have gone about that a totally different way, he could have said, 'Hey, I run the show, that email was a little unprofessional, if you don't do something to apologize I don't want you at my show.' But he just came at me and said, indirectly, 'Hey, f*** you, you're banned from PAX.' Is that what you'd call professional? I wouldn't."
Christoforo also said his response was driven in part by what he saw as the disrespectful tone of the messages that came before it. "Not that I don't have respect for anybody, but if someone's badmouthing me or being a little punk or being a jerk, they don't deserve respect," he said. "You can't expect to go up and say 'Hey you piece of s***,' and expect respect. Send an email, introduce yourself. ... I trust everybody until they give me a reason not to respect them. I'm not a tough guy, not a bully, but at same time not going to take s*** if it's uncalled for.
Basically he's still blaming the others in the conversation, and even suggesting that they
should have gone about things differently. In fact, he seems to suggest that they provoked him
into his reaction. At this point, it might be worth going back to the original email thread
, to see who started the hostilities. The customer, Dave, was nothing but polite through a series of perplexing emails. It's Paul who kicks off the hostilities with a totally uncalled for email that first tells Dave that his order will be cancelled if he dares to try to reorder at the new, cheaper price, and then pulls out:
You placed a pre order just like any software title the gets a date moved due to the tweaks and bugs not being worked out and GameStop or any other place holds your cash and 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. The benefit is a token of our appreaciation for everyone no one is special including you or any first time buyer . 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.
Sorry, but I don't see how that's anyone's fault by Paul's.
Then there's this:
"Ultimately, if I was able to control the customer, it never would have happened. I've dealt with thousands and thousands of customers with similar complaints, they were all asking the same question. When is it big enough that it hits the news? When it hits Penny Arcade, when it hits a guy who has the biggest affiliations in the industry."
He still thinks it's about controlling
the customer, not responding to Dave's very legitimate and real requests.
Finally, at the end, he seems to admit that perhaps he was really at fault here:
So what lessons has Christoforo taken from his brush with Internet infamy? "I'll definitely stay away from customer service emails," he said. "I could have nipped this all in the bud by being a little nicer. You never know who knows who, and lesson learned. We all have bad days and they caught me on one."
"At the end of the day, I'm a human being, and it feels like the entire world was bullying me," he said. "I want people to like me, I don't want people to think I'm a bad person. ... I made a mistake. ... I hope I can make something positive out of it."
We agree, and hope that he can
make something positive out of it, but it's got to start with ditching the claim that he's somehow the victim in all of this and trying to excuse his behavior.