The 'Avenger' controller accessory was the subject of the complaint that sparked the now-infamous email exchange.

Today’s lesson in customer relations — as in, what not to do — comes from this painfully entertaining email thread in which a marketing rep for a video-game controller is first incredibly insensitive to a customer’s inquiry about a shipping delay, and then unbelievably oblivious to the influence of the Seattle-based Penny Arcade webcomic and the influence of its readership.

And that’s putting it mildly.

The best part is seeing the marketer, identified as Paul Christoforo, backpedal after realizing that the “douchebag” he’s berating via email is Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, better known as Gabe, who stood up for the customer after being copied on the email thread.

“Who are you again?” writes Christoforo, after challenging Krahulik over whether he can keep him from exhibiting at Penny Arcade Expo East in Boston.

Krahulik replies, “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.”

“OK Mike whatever you say lol,” says Christoforo, before going off on another diatribe about his influence in the industry.

Krahulik: “I do run Pax, but I also run a website called penny arcade. It’s kinda popular.”

Christoforo: “Love penny Arcade !!”

Krahulik: “I’m glad you like it! You will be on it tomorrow:)”

And lots of other sites, as the story has now taken on a life of its own. Read more in Kotaku and the Something Awful forums.

Update: Krahulik has published the text of an apology sent to him by Christoforo.

Thanks to Scott for pointing this out.

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  • Jason Tan

    This line from Paul restores my faith in our education system: “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”

  • Stormanrus1

    I got similar email from Mr. Christopher, when I inquired about delivery.

    • Todd Bishop

      Oh, please do post it here or send it our way.

  • FrankCatalano

    This is awesome in the true dictionary sense: inspiring fear and awe.

    It’s a great corollary to the old New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Or, apparently, a very influential industry figure. Everyone can have a bad day, but good grief ….

  • Brian Crouch

    He went from unhelpful, to evasive, to rude, to abusive, then (to Gabe) threatening after having been solicitous. Interesting that with “125 people” at hand for a “smear job” that he couldn’t spare one of them to create a reply with proper punctuation and at least a modicum of appropriate customer service practices. Sad that with 10% of the country unemployed that a guy like Paul has a job.

  • Monica Harrington

    Wow.  The apology is fascinating….feels like something a Stephen King character might write.

  • Dprokop

    This customer service disaster should be a lesson to us all – 
    treat your customers with respect and goodwill

    write each email like it will be forwarded to the New York Times or 
    be read aloud by a Judge in Court.

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