Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Dec 28, 2011

N-Control Responds To Ocean Marketing Fiasco

While we have already talked to some of the people at N-Control regarding Paul Christoforo, and the infamous emails he sent out. We learned that he was not directly involved with the company, and the marketing firm he works for is no longer handling N-Control’s account. However, we have received an official press release from the company, regarding the events of the past two days. Here it is, in its entirety:

*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
AVENGER CONTROLLER DISMISSES MARKETING CONSULTANT,
TAKES BACK MARKETING AND SALES OPERATIONS

Miami, FL— Wednesday, December 28, 2011— N-Control, makers of the Avenger Controller accessory, have categorically dismissed third party contractor Paul Christoforo and his marketing operation, known alternately as Ocean Distribution or Ocean Marketing. This separation from Mr. Christoforo extends to all business interests of N-Control, its founders, and its officers. Mr. Christoforo does not and never did own, in whole or in part, a stake in N-Control LLC nor its affiliated companies (Kotkin Enterprises, iControl LLC).

Following the publication of an email chain between Mr. Christoforo and one of N-Control’s customers, punctuated by Mr. Christoforo’s acknowledgement of his conduct, N-Control immediately proceeded to extricate Mr. Christoforo’s access to their email and social media accounts, a process that is still ongoing. In the interim, a Gmail address and Twitter account (AvengerDefender@gmail.com and @AvengerDefender, respectively) have been set up for press inquiries and customer service needs.

David Kotkin, the inventor and founder of the Avenger Controller, created the product to help one of his students who had a physical disability. The student wanted to play games the way that everyone else could. The Avenger evolved from a homemade solution for a deserving child into an even more sophisticated controller accessory, capable of enhancing even the most skilled gamer’s performance.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to be a part of the gaming community in a fun, positive way.” said David Kotkin, Avenger founder. “I created the Avenger to make people happy. I deeply regret that so many people have any negative feelings toward it as a result of what has happened, especially since I’ve seen first-hand what an impact it can have on gameplay.”

Kotkin continued, “What I’m most concerned about is doing right by our customers. We have dropped the ball by giving them delivery estimates that did not come through as expected. We didn’t expect that the demand would be so great, and we should have done a better job communicating that. Our new team is taking all necessary action to correct that going forward. I hope that people will give us a chance to earn back the faith they may have lost.”

All existing orders will be honored, and PS3 Avenger pre-order customers will all be extended the same $10 discount that some have already received. To clarify, customers who have already received $10 off their pre-order are not eligible for an additional discount. N-Control agrees with “Customer Dave” that all of our PS3 early adopters deserve to be rewarded for their trust in the Avenger.

N-Control would like to publicly apologize to existing and potential customers, as well as the gaming community at large, for allowing Mr. Christoforo to abuse his power so unforgivably. The Avenger was invented to provide greater accessibility to disabled gamers, and bullying tactics are the last thing that should be associated with this product.

In the effort to dispel various misconceptions that have been forwarded via news reports and social media, N-Control is offering the following clarifications on a variety of subjects:

N-Control has hired an independent consultant, Austin, Texas-based Moisés Chiullan (@moiseschiu), to field press inquiries and oversee sales and marketing operations going forward. They ask that customers and the press alike bear with them as they field the tens of thousands of emails and other messages that N-Control has received. It is his intent that N-Control should respond personally to everyone who has emailed the info@avengercontroller.com address regarding this situation.

“We have to move forward and take care of Avenger’s customers,” Chiullan said. “I can’t worry about the fact that there isn’t a bus big enough for me to throw Paul Christoforo under. The internet did that for me. I think they set him on fire too.” He continued, “I just hope that people will have the common decency to leave his wife and child out of all this. They didn’t send those emails, Paul did.”

All PS3 Avenger pre-orders are currently slated to ship by January 15th at the latest. Some orders will ship in advance of January 15th. In consideration of the events of the past two days, N-Control ask their customers to bear with them as they sort out updating individual order estimates. General updates regarding shipping will be regularly delivered to customers starting next week.

At no time during his tenure with N-Control did Mr. Christoforo have direct access to customer credit card information. N-Control does not retain any customer credit card data for online orders, which are all processed via Google Checkout or Paypal.

Ocean Marketing aka Paul Christoforo owns no stake in the Avenger Controller nor N-Control, and does not stand to profit from further sales of the device either through N-Control or authorized resellers.

Contrary to how Mr. Christoforo may have presented events (in public or private), N-Control never directly endorsed nor had knowledge of his communication with customers in the manner found in his correspondence with “Customer Dave”, who still wants his Avengers, despite everything that has transpired.

Steps have been taken to ensure that all future customer communication is transparently visible to management at N-Control. N-Control regrets sincerely that the trust they placed in Mr. Christoforo was so abused and betrayed and, as a result, may have tainted their reputation with existing and potential customers and partners.

Regarding “Afternoon Artists”, a company registered with the Florida Division of Corporations that lists Paul Christoforo as Treasurer, N-Control has the following statement: “This secondary business has never so much as opened a bank account, much less operated in any form outside of paperwork being filed. It was originally intended that Mr. Christoforo would serve as an investor in this company, which, again, has never operated in any capacity, nor will it in the future.”

N-Control employs Eli Schwartz as a part-time Social Media Consultant. He is an enthusiastic high school student who became one of the Avenger’s earliest super fans, meeting the founder at a trade show. Mr. Kotkin is proud to encourage the development of a bright, enthusiastic young person like Eli.

Eli Schwartz is not, however, in charge of Marketing or PR for N-Control. Previous news reports have credited him as Marketing Manager, a title Mr. Schwartz gave himself without the consent or advance knowledge or N-Control management. This occurred during the period of greatest upheaval following Mr. Christoforo’s dismissal, and N-Control regrets that this mixed messaging reached the public. All press inquiries and media requests should instead be directed to Moisés Chiullan at the AvengerDefender@gmail.com address.

Contrary to rumors and speculation, Eli Schwartz’s Twitter account is his own and not controlled by Paul Christoforo. Mr. Schwartz is a minor, and consequently, N-Control would appreciate the press and the public’s discretion in their dealings with him.

For the foreseeable future, N-Control’s official Twitter account will be “@AvengerControl”, as N-Control does not have access to “@NControlAvenger”. N-Control is not responsible for the content of any Twitter feeds associated with Paul Christoforo.

For the foreseeable future, N-Control requests that customers discontinue use of the toll-free phone number displayed on the AvengerController.com website, as well as any other means of contact found there. Instead, customers should direct communication to AvengerDefender@gmail.com. They ask for patience due to the events of the last two days. Keep an eye on @AvengerControl on Twitter for updates.

For more details regarding N-Control and Avenger Controller, contact press agent Moisés Chiullan, at AvengerDefender@gmail.com.

For more information, follow Avenger Controllers on Twitter: @AvengerControl

This essentially clears up most of the questions surrounding the entire ordeal. What’s more the company has decided to give a $10 discount to everyone who has pre-ordered a PS3 Avenger. And those pre-orders should be fulfilled by no later than January 15th, with some arriving before that time.

I, for one, am happy to see that the people at N-Control have taken this step to help not only distance themselves from Paul Christoforo, but to reward the customers who have been patient with them. After all, many of those customers were hoping to have an Avenger in their hands before now, and who knows how many of them have received similar emails to the ones “Dave” shared.

Written by Chris Scott Barr

Born and raised in Indiana, Chris grew up on a healthy diet of video games and Magic: The Gathering. He worked a number of jobs in the IT field before deciding to pursue his passion by founding GamerFront in 2007. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Post a Comment
  • http://www.natesnetwork.com Nathan Stansell

    Awesome. This is good to see. I hope N-Control recovers and prospers!

  • Tyler Kelly

    That’s a super-nice, feel-good response from Ncontrol. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they were delaying peoples’ orders by MONTHS. Yeah, the might have started to fix the crappy CS problem, but they probably haven’t bothered to address the real root of the problem; their inability to ship things on time.

  • Annie

    Why would a marketing person be handling your customer service issues?

  • Claire

    As someone who works for an online retailer, I understand that orders get delayed sometimes. Especially with brand-new products where demand greatly outstrips the ability to supply. It’s easy to blame the company, but if the stock doesn’t come through then there’s nothing that can be done. Especially with a company like this that appears to have grown from a single guy having a great idea, rather than being the latest product from a long-established company. So do please cut them a little slack on that front.

    The issue here is purely one of communication. I spend much of my working day chasing suppliers for updated stock ETAs, so that our customer service staff can get in touch with customers and let them know what’s happening. It’s frustrating when your order doesn’t come through when it was promised, but I’m sure everyone can agree that it’s a lot less frustrating when you’re kept up to speed with the delays. And in both of the cases I’ve read about here, the customer has seemed perfectly willing to wait as long as they’re kept in the loop.

    But dear God, Paul Christoforo? When you’re swamped by emails from disgruntled customers you might think a few uncharitable thoughts, but you never, EVER share them. Especially over email, where there’s always time to take a deep breath and reread what you’ve written before hitting Send. That’s Lesson One in pretty much any customer-facing role.

    It’s good to see N-Control have moved to distance themselves from him as soon as they’ve found out about this. It’s less good to see how utterly unremorseful Mr Christoforo appears to be. Still, I’ll be surprised if he ever gets another job dealing with customers after this.

  • http://www.deadwars.com urbn

    So if everything has been moved over to a new company why does the avengercontroller.com website use the same (non 800) telephone number for contact as the ocean marketing website uses?

    Seems odd that this new Texas company would use a number that is specific to the east coast and previously used by ocean marketing.

  • AK

    who thinks this was all just a made up gimmick. all parties willfully involved in boosting sales of a mediocre piece of plastic. just that the magical guy that “paid off” all the Kmart layaways. semi-brilliant marketing to boost sales a little bit right before they file for bankruptcy.

  • AK

    who thinks this was all just a made up gimmick. all parties willfully involved in boosting sales of a mediocre piece of plastic. just *like* that the magical person that “paid off” all the Kmart layaways. semi-brilliant marketing to boost sales a little bit right before they file for bankruptcy.
    *edit*

  • Mike

    They don’t want people to use the 800-number THEY”VE PUBLISHED ON THEIR WEBSITE? WTF? Real professional. They also took customer’s money and made ship date commitments for products that hadn’t even shipped from the manufacturer yet. Finally, they say that the company formed with Christoforo never operated. That isn’t the point. The filing proves that Christoforo is not just some random bozo they mistakenly hired, he is an associate of the owner(s) of N-control.

  • Keith

    How much do you want to bet that Paul Christoforo sees himself as the victim in all of this?

    “Man, why’d that dick have to send my emails to Penny Arcade?”

  • Wimtar

    Exactly my question as well.

  • Truth

    1. Eli Schwartz, whether a real or fabricated persona, had a twitter account created in his name as nothing but an advertising platform for the controller.

    2. Almost all of the Amazon product reviews were posted by accounts that have no other history.

    3. David Kotkin himself was caught using *one* of his Amazon account to give a five star review to his controller and several one star extremely negative reviews to his competition.

    4. David Kotkin originally stated that the company he had co-founded with Paul Christoforo name “Afternoon Artists” was to be used as a charity. After it was uncovered that the company was registered for-profit, he changed his story to “It was originally intended that Mr. Christoforo would serve as an investor in this company…”

    5. David Kotkin and Paul Christoforo are not just business partners, they are friends (http://i.imgur.com/vpCVO.jpg). David Kotkin knew exactly how Paul Christoforo was treating customers, as well as his fiance, but did nothing but sit back and laugh about each abuse.

    6. Many people have had money taken from their accounts months ago and still have nothing but excuses to show for it.

    If you support either of these thugs or their products, know that you will be supporting abusive, lying leeches. Let another, more ethical company make a controller extension for people who need it.

  • Moo

    @Annie – that’s common practice in small businesses with limited resources.

  • Dutch Uncle

    Shipping things late isn’t good, but it happens, and it’s usually not fatal. I for one would rather have a product right than get something on time but defective. If the situation had been handled well – say, all pre-order-ers getting an email along the lines of “We’re going to be late because of shipping, we’re very sorry, here’s a PDF of a your-gift-is-late cartoon and a discount off a future order”, most people would grumble and deal with it. What made this famous was the poor handling.

  • Dave

    Annie: “Why would a marketing person be handling your customer service issues?”

    Because most businesses are so small that the employees perform many different business functions simultaneously, and use a corresponding title for each function.

  • Jeff

    Please. This corporate whitewashing of the highest order. N Control charged customers in advance without shipping the product, not that steroid case Paul Christoforo.

    Here in Canada it is against the law to charge credit cards for goods UNTIL THEY ARE SHIPPED. There’s a reason for this, it’s to prevent scummmy companies like N Control from ripping off the public.

    This whole fiasco stinks, and those applauding the company for distancing themselves from their hired shill really aren’t getting it, at all.

  • Reow

    This is a positive first step from the firm (compared to abusing their customers), but we cannot forget they are the ones who hired and endorsed Christoforo. Distancing themselves from him is the act of a coward and not a hero – they are vicariously liable and need to take more personal responsibility for their employee’s actions (be he a contractor or otherwise).

    This is too little too late for most customers. An example needs to be made of the firm so that others are more diligent in the future. I for one will be withdrawing all of my orders and distancing my supplier from N-Control. We can only hope that their impending bankruptcy serves as a warning.

  • Dorian Ma

    This whole thing is crooked, Christiforo hasnt paid yet but he will.

  • Mike

    Well, all this fuss over a sales asshole…no fucking technical skills,
    No clue as to how his job has merit or how he contributes to the company’s well -being…a sales tool, useful for a short time then,
    meant to be discarded.

  • Truth

    Please do not let David Kotkin or his company profit from this.

    Who would put someone that can’t write a single sentence with proper punctuation or capitalization in charge of interacting with customers?

    Who would hire someone with a history of steroid and domestic abuse?

    Who would hire such a person to work at even the lowest (i.e. janitorial staff) of positions within a company?

    Who would lie about a registered for-profit company being set up “for charity?”

    Who would hire a teenager (and now alleged “liar”) to any position within the company after all of this?

    Who would hire a new PR representative and then give them no information on the availability of the product?

    Who would use sock-puppet twitter and amazon accounts to promote their product and bad mouth others?

    David Kotkin would, and I have a feeling his good friend Paul Christoforo would do these things within his own “companies” as well.

    If you support any of these thugs or their products, know that you will be supporting abusive, lying leeches. These people prey on the disabled because they know they are less likely to be able to fight back.

    PLEASE let another, more ethical company make a controller extension for people who need it.

  • Jezzer

    @”Truth”

    Everything you are saying is either misrepresented or complete speculation, and the only “evidence” you give are statements from Paul Christoforo himself, a proven liar. Wanting something dearly to be true does not equal “proof.”