Since this morning the internet has been abuzz with backlash against Ocean Marketing. The story broke just after midnight with a post on Penny Arcade that contained an email exchange between a customer named Dave and a representative of Ocean Marketing named Paul Christoforo. Dave had apparently ordered two PlayStation 3 controllers from the company, and was complaining to Christofolo that he had not received sufficient communication from the company regarding his order status. What follows is an increasingly childish and vitriolic exchange, wherein the Ocean Marketing representative breaks pretty much every known rule of good public relations.
The Penny Arcade post was picked up in short order by Reddit and Twitter, and as the day has gone on it has ballooned into an enormous scandal. Here are some of the early Twitter reactons:
Ocean Marketing – way to go, stupids.
Every time I feel my cynicism waning, something like this Ocean Marketing fiasco comes along and confirms everything I hate about people.
Sensing an Internet mob forming to deal with this Ocean Marketing thing.
Reactions like this have continued throughout the day, and drawn the attention of some fairly well-known Twitter users:
“Derp derp derp… I just treeted ap aying custtomer like shit. What’s next? OH I KNOW! Pick at fight with Penny Arcade! I AM A GENIUS!”
Throughout all this, Ocean Marketing’s one attempt at damage control was to change their Twitter account. The original account, @oceanmarketting, was abandoned (and re-registered almost immediately) partway through the day, though the Twitter link on the company’s website still leads to it. Meanwhile Paul Christoforo took up residence in a second account, @oceanstratagy. Neither the attempted subterfuge nor Mr. Christoforo’s terrible spelling skills went unnoticed, as users immediately found the second account, which has not been updated since this morning.
Then, just a short while ago, the whole situation took a major left turn. MacHeist, purveyors of popular software bundles for Mac computers, tweeted the following:
The ‘Ocean Marketing guy’ is a made-up character in a MacHeist stunt that spiraled out of our control.
We are very very sorry.
Given MacHeist’s popularity and solid reputation, Twitter responded with a collective gasp of disbelief. Most who responded felt that MacHeist was making some sort of joke, though the company remained quiet in response to repeated requests for clarification. Meanwhile, Eli Schwartz, who apparently works for N-Control, the company that makes the controller that was at the heart of the original email exchange, has been doing damage control for over an hour via his Twitter account. He has assured people that all preorders will be honored and that N-Control no longer employs Ocean Marketing. In response to MacHeist’s tweet, he had the following to say:
Finally breaking its silence, MacHeist replied, apparently admitting to having played a bit of a joke:
@TheSchwartz173 our version of the truth sounds far more plausible than the reality at this point
So despite the moment of panic among MacHeist fans, it appears that this debacle is the real deal. And so, once again, Twitter has proven why being a jerk to paying customers in a world of social media is a spectacularly bad idea.