It started with an Australian member of MBWorld posting used headers for sale on the forum's classifieds. It ended with the director of a performance chip company calling the police. What happened in between? Classic Aussie rules forum mob beatdown.
Who'd have thought an overzealous aftermarket-parts executive could generate the kind of on- and off-line backlash the Australians (motto: "If you haven't been punched in the face yet, wait five minutes") love to dole out? Follow along, it's a corker, this one, and a hint at what an angry forum mob can do if provoked enough.
Here's the crux: The seller, Harun Gencerler, lists the second-hand headers (off his C63 AMG) as "Cargraphic" brand, though in a later post admits he isn't sure if they're replicas or not. Wayne Besanko, managing director of Powerchip Australia, who apparently has a pet peeve about counterfeit gear being sold as name-brand merchandise, hits the seller with the third degree — insisting he confirm the headers are the genuine article. As bait, Besanko offers to buy the headers, but only if the seller can guarantee their bona fides. Fed up, the seller basically tells the nosy ocker, "Look mate, I don't know if the headers are Cargraphic or not, but either buy them or go take the piss." (Not the real quote, and no guarantee this is actual Australian slang.)
(FYI: Of all aftermarket parts, exhaust systems in particular have been notoriously cloned as [mostly Chinese-made] knockoffs).
BAM. That's when the confrontation, which you can read here, escalated into one of the most widespread online rumbles in forum history. The beef spilled over onto another thread, and several other forums, most notably, Australia's Performance Forums, with other members getting involved in real life as well as online. Here's the Cliff's notes version of what happened next.
- Wayne Besanko from Powerchip sends an e-mail to Gencerler, the seller, indicating he's in violation of an Australian law for selling non-genuine headers. Besanko requests additional contact information to initiate legal action:
My name is Wayne Besanko, I am the Managing Director of Powerchip Australia Pty Ltd.
It has been brought to my attention that you have offered for sale an exhaust product that you refer to as 'Cargraphic'.
As you are aware, our company has advised that your description of the product you are selling as 'Cargraphic' is a breach of Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act (Cth), in addition to other issues that will be raised in the communication that will be sent to you shortly.
We have requested our lawyer act for our Company in relation to this matter, and we request the following of you to enable our lawyer to communicate with you...
I suggest that you cease making further statements in relation to the exhaust product you had referred to as 'cargraphic' until you have read the communication from our lawyer and have obtained legal advice in relation to it.
This communication is without prejudice to rights that have accrued and continue to accrue. Powerchip reserves its rights in relation to this matter.
- Gencerler, seemingly puzzled—remember, this guys's just a private seller, not a dealer—contacts Cargraphic, which confirms Powerchip isn't a reseller of the company's headers. The question then becomes, does this Besanko character have the right to legal action, or is he just being a busybody?
- The expanding thread spills over into Australia's Performanceforums.com.
- Everyone goes WTF. Shit-talking commences.
- Wayne Besanko continues to threaten legal action, says a response is forthcoming by 8 am the next day.
Slander [sic; we assume he means libel] is a very serious matter, sir, and i will have the last word in the matter. This is a promise, not a threat.
- PF members edit Besanko's Wiki page. Besanko threatens legal action.
- PF members find out where Besanko lives/works.
- Another PF member claims to have fingered Wayne Besanko's wife, causing LOLs.
- A PF member suggests dumping a gearbox on Besanko's driveway. More LOLs.
- 8 am deadline passes.
- Nine hours later, Wayne Besanko accuses Gencerler of editing his Wiki page; threatens more legal action.
I wish to advise that no staff member or Director at Powerchip has ever edited the wikipedia entry for Powerchip prior to the time that this email is sent, and that the statements made on Wikepedia [sic] that you have been attributed to either Wayne Besanko or Powerchip were made by persons unknown to us.
You are instructed to immediately remove the images, and/or the references to the images, and to post a retraction immediately stating that you have been advised by Wayne Besanko that the statement you have made in relation to the wikepedia page is untrue.
- Wikipedia bans the forum members and Besanko for abusive conduct.
- PF members conspire to bump the forum thread higher in Google's search results by referencing Besanko's name in as many sentences as they can. They succeed. The thread, titled "Powerchip are a bunch of cunts," appears on the fourth page of Google results for "Wayne Besanko."
- New members join Performance Forums and MBWorld to badmouth Powerchip and its ECUs.
- PF members find photos of a girl who is allegedly Wayne Besanko's daughter and post them online.
- Another PF member leaves a gearbox on Wayne Besanko's doorstep.
- Wayne Besanko emails Gencerler, again threatening to sue for slander. Doesn't he mean libel?
- Wayne Besanko posts on MB World that the police have been called. Apparently, he thinks Gencerler has been perpetrating all of the shenanigans by himself. Doesn't seem to grasp what he's unleashed.
I wish to advise that police have contacted the original poster in relation to events involving intimidation and harassment at Powerchips office today by two persons who attended the premises and took photographs and posted them on a web site , the actions were initiated and requested by the original poster who lives interstate who offered to pay a fee for carrying out the threatening behavior.
This is a very disappointing situation where our staff are now aprehensive to come to the office in the morning, and they have been advised not to attend the office tommorow until the court can make an order to stop the threatening and intimidating behavior.
- Gencerler denies he's been contacted by the police.
- No further word yet from Wayne Besanko.
- No word from the police.
- The threads spread to other forums and more badmouthing of Powerchip ensues.
- "Powerchip are a bunch of cunts" now appears on the second page of Google results for "Wayne Besanko."
- Moderator of MBWorld closes the sandbox.
If you'd rather see the forum beef acted out in an Xtranormal skit. Have at it.
How will this end? Stay threaded for further lessons in how to turn a personal crusade into a catastrophic brand-perception event. And thanks to Simon for the tip.