When you order a Christmas present online, you expect it to be delivered by Christmas. You don't expect to go viral. However, that is exactly what happened when a gamer named Dave placed an order for two PS3 controllers with Ocean Marketing, the guys representing the Avenger Controller. He pre-ordered the controllers on November 3rd and they were scheduled to arrive sometimes in early December. It seemed like nothing more than a lazy Thursday of Internet shopping.
Unfortunately, Internet shopping comes with a few risks. Sometimes packages are delayed, which can put customers in a bit of a jam during the holiday season. This was a jam Dave found himself in when December 20th rolled around and his packages still hadn't come. He emailed Ocean Marketing to inquire when his items would ship. Here is his full email:
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.
This email was responded to by one Paul Christoforo with this simple phrase: "Dec 17"
It was a short and kind of cryptic response, but one would assume this meant that the controllers had already been shipped. Dave then asked for clarification, seeing as he has received no shipping confirmation or tracking information. The clarification he received merely brought up further questions, as he was told that the controllers hadn't shipped at all, and that they were still on the way to the U.S. from China. When Dave asked for an estimated date of arrive for his packages, Paul told him, "They are in the USA now in customs so its wither before or after Christmas."
Dave was upset, and rightfully so; he was pretty much stuck without a present to give on a major gift-giving holiday, and confused about when and if he'd ever receive his order.
As a consolation to customers for the long delivery time, Ocean Marketing was offering a $10 discount on new orders. However, this didn't actually help Dave get his presents on time. Since he was not going to receive them anyway, he inquired as to whether or not he could use this ten-dollar credit on the order itself by canceling and re-ordering the same items.
This is the response he received:
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.
Things happen in manufacturing if your unhappy you have 7 days from the day your item ships for a refund. 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. Have a good day Dan.
This response contained all the polish and tact of a forum flame war. Of course, it only got worse from here. Dan—I mean Dave—was quite upset after this, and in the traditions of the best flame wars, he came back with a long and angry response. I'll spare you the details, but the e-mail essentially addressed how unhelpful Paul was being, how Dave had a right to his controllers, and how stupid Paul's YouTube videos were. The letter was punctuated with a "Welcome to the internet, b****. That's how I roll."
But Dave didn't just send this e-mail to Paul. Instead, he CCed it to several video game news sites, including Kotaku, IGN, and, most importantly, Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. Well, the threat of public outing of this flame war did not dissuade Paul. You see, apparently Paul knows "the Editor N Chief of Kotaku , IGN , [and] Engadget," so he thanked Dave for the free PR. He also obviously knows far more about the Internet than Dave does. In his own eloquent words: "Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up."
The response ended with: "See you at CES , E3 , Pax East ….? Oh wait you have to ask mom and pa dukes your not an industry professional and you have no money on snap you just got told."
The Pax East comment happened to arouse the nerd ire of Mike Krahulik, better known as Gabe from Penny Arcade. Being either a defender of gamer's rights everywhere or the most glorious Internet troll in existence, he decided to get involved. He sent Dave a short e-mail saying, "Holy sh** this is unbelievable. Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it."
Paul was not dissuaded by this. He upped the ante, attacking PAX itself, claiming that Ocean Marketing wouldn't be coming to PAX because there were bigger and better shows to be at. He also claimed he could get a booth at PAX if he wanted because he had money. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to know exactly who he was talking to, ending his pigheaded response with "Who are you again?"
Mike was kind enough to respond to him by saying, "I am mike krahulik, Pax is my show. Feel free to google me=) I can promise you that you will never have space at any future Pax event."
By this point, Dave had pretty much dropped out of the conversation. The last thing he said was to not punish the Avenger controller line because of Paul's behavior—a noble thing to say indeed.
However, the conversation became a flame war between an enraged Paul and a relatively calm Mike. Paul fired back, saying that he knows the guy who ran PAX East last year. This came off as a bit weird to Mike, considering he ran PAX East last year. Paul continued to drop names such as Cliff Bleszinski, Sean Buckley, and, no joke, the Mayor of Boston. He said he could pull enough strings to get into PAX East if he wanted to, and that he has been "all over the place" including "e3 , CES , Gamer Con , SSXW ,Comic Con, [and] Germany."