Function 4’s Brush With Satirist David Thorne

Brent Finnegan -- March 2nd, 2011

When David Thorne first walked into Function 4 Sports in January, store employees had no idea who he was. But if you so much as mention his name in the store today, employees immediately roll their eyes.

Photo by Holly Marcus. Function 4 Sports on East Market Street.

Photo by Holly Marcus. Function 4 Sports on East Market Street.

Thorne is the Australian “fratirist” behind the website 27b/6, an archive of satirical email exchanges he’s had with unsuspecting subjects. He purchased a pair of defective snowboarding gloves from the Harrisonburg ski shop in January. When he returned to exchange the gloves the next day, he claims that he was told by an employee to “f**k off,” and was denied the opportunity for an exchange.

Fake ad created by David ThorneThe next day, Thorne, who is also a graphic designer, created a fake newspaper ad for Function 4 promising a free snowboard, boots and bindings. He posted the ad online, and his fans responded by calling the shop.

“For a while, we had to turn off our phones,” said Anton Ganev, owner of Function 4 Sports. “We were getting so many calls” about free snowboards. When he found out what had happened, Ganev said he fired the employee that interacted with Thorne.

On January 25 Thorne published what appears to be his email conversation with Ganev. On Thorne’s site, Ganev appears to insult Thorne, and Thorne one-ups him with witty comebacks.

Thorne’s post went viral. It has been passed around Twitter and Facebook an untold number of times over the past month. (Thorne estimates his website receives around 140,000 unique visitors on days he publishes new stories.)

However, Ganev denied that Thorne’s account is even remotely accurate. “I never wrote any of those emails,” Ganev said.

Thorne claims that a similar exchange did indeed take place, but he granted that those first emails might not have actually been from Ganev. “While Anton and I did correspond via email and the exchange is based on factual events, this particular article does contain a degree of artistic license,” Thorne wrote in an email to hburgnews.

An email conversation between Ganev and Thorne forwarded to by a Function 4 employee looks considerably different from the exchange published on 27b/6. Here are excerpts from emails purportedly sent between January 27 and February 1:

GANEV: “It was brought to my attention today that you had an unpleasant experience in my store, Function 4 Sports. I apologize for my employee’s bad behavior. The employee that refused to take your gloves back and give you a refund was terminated […] I would like to welcome you back to my store to do the best I can to satisfy your needs. I would like to reimburse you for your purchase and your time . . .”

THORNE: “. . . I appreciate the tone of the email. I would not, however, be stupid enough to go back to the store and possibly be beaten to death. The amount for the gloves or a refund was not the issue (I couldn’t care less about $44) and I also have no desire to have anybody terminated. . .”

GANEV: “. . . We have taken measures at our shop to make sure the situation that occurred with you will not happen again with you or anyone else […] I hope we can somehow come to a resolution regarding this issue. I would like to meet with you this week and make you an offer you will like. Let’s go skiing this weekend . . .”

THORNE: “. . . I appreciate the structure of your email but like I stated in my last email to you, I have no intention of continuing the matter and it was never about compensation therefore any offer you may make (even one I “will like”) is unnecessary […] It is the internet, articles have a two week lifespan and then everyone forgets. It is not necessary for you to attempt a resolution when it is self-resolving.”

Function 4 is not the first local establishment to find themselves the subject of one of Thorne’s email stories. In October, the Aussie humorist published an email volley with a supposed employee of the Massanutten Property Owners Association (MPOA), in which Thorne dressed his dog up as a bear in order to get out of paying a fine.

Carter Miller, the MPOA administrator, called the entire email exchange between Thorne and the MPOA employee a fictitious crock. “Every bit of that was fabricated,” Miller said.

Thorne denied that either the Function 4 or Massanutten stories were entirely fabricated, but (again) admitted alteration. “The primary function of what I write is, basically, to entertain,” Thorne wrote. “Nobody would read the email articles if they all just stated ‘f**k you.'”

A Function 4 employee said they still receive calls about the free gear. Last weekend someone prank-ordered Papa John’s pizzas to be delivered to Function 4.

And then there are the online reviews. The day Thorne published his story, the first user review appeared on Function 4’s Google listing. Within a few weeks, there were more than eighty negative reviews, many of which make references to stories on 27b/6.

“I think this is mostly his friends or people that read his website,” Ganev said of his store’s recent Google reviews.

For his part, Thorne disavows the actions of his readers. “I write under the banner ‘parody with a point’ and am known for this on the internet,” Thorne emailed Ganev. “I am not responsible for the actions/reactions of readers but realise I feed this.”

Ganev said he does not plan to pursue legal action against Thorne, although he believes the prank has hurt the reputation of his business. “Someone can be personally against you and ruin your business using lies,” Ganev said. “There’s really nothing you can do.”

Thorne’s book, a collection of email exchanges from his website, is expected to be released by Penguin Group this spring.

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87 Responses to “Function 4’s Brush With Satirist David Thorne”

  1. Jenny says:

    I have read the story on the 27b/6 website and was in tears from laughing. Even if some of it has artistic license it is still hilarious and it doesn’t chnage the fact that Function 4 sports was in the wrong in this instance. If they recommend something and it bleeds ink all over your clothes then they should refund your money. Heck if I was Mr Thorne I would have asked them to replace the jacket.

    • Josh says:

      Yes, they were initially in the wrong but it seems as if they made every attempt to make things right, including firing the employee, offering to reimburse Thorne for his purchase and time, and even asking to take him skiing. What more could they have done?

      I bet the alternative line of events would have been: reimbursement, a free pair of gloves, a day of skiing, maybe a few beers, and probably a new friendship.

      I feel sorry for Function 4 Sports now that I know some of the rest of the story.

      • Jodie says:

        They only tried to make things right after David Thorne posted the article. Before that they probably figured they had gotten away with another non refund. I say kudos to Thorne for not just taking it like most. Plus his website is hilarious. He did the missing missy the cat story:

        • Dawn says:

          How could the article have been published prior to the “supposed” email exchange?

          I read the site first and laughed out loud. However, it’s clear that the store’s reputation was damaged even though they tried to make reparation. David still went ahead with his damaging post after his initial attack with the advertisement.

          Badly done, David. Funny, but badly done. If you’re already taking artistic license with the email content, why not change the name of the store too?

          • Chris says:

            The ad was never published. The whole thing is in david thorne’s fantasy world. There was no double revenge. I bet the service in that store is A+ now!

  2. Brooke says:

    Is this what passes for humor these days? Fabricated e-mails that affect someone’s business?

    You know if the exchange really happened the way he reported it, that would be one thing, and I’d consider it fair game, but it sounds like he’s in the habit of making stuff up so that it seems funnier. Reminds me of that website “E-mails from an A**hole.” How much of this even happened? Did the gloves really bleed, or is that what the guy claimed to get the ball rolling?

    This guy is flirting with the line between humor and libel. Pretty sure people don’t realize the e-mails are altered and/or made up entirely. When he fabricates e-mail and correspondence exchanges, and then puts them up as actual exchanges, it can really affect how people view that business (hence the sudden increase in bad reviews), and in the end, someone’s livelihood. Does this not occur to this guy? Or does he simply not care? If I was one of the business owners targeted, I’d be plenty mad.

    He should probably make it much clearer that these are not factual and accurate representations of what took place. Not surprising that one of his sponsors is a law firm.

    • bazrik says:

      Well put Brooke.

    • Jay says:

      Obviously the gloves did bleed. If they hadn’t there would be no need for correspondence from either parties. David Thorne is not known for fabricating the entirety of his stories, but merely putting an interesting spin on things. Just like parody films poke fun at popular movies, and many comedians make jokes out of very serious situations, David Thorne uses his medium to entertain. I find it very difficult to believe that you have never laughed at a comedy or parody of anything ever in your life.

      As for the fans being ignorant, that’s a horse of a different color. You cannot blame the writer of a humorous website for the actions of those that do not read that he is, in fact, a humor writer. He states plainly on the website that it’s for amusement purposes only. As for the emails being fake, Thorne admits they’re altered. The shop keeper could very well have made up the emails as well, as it is something even a child with basic knowledge of email could do.

      He was treated poorly and, rather than have a very public outburst like many customers would, he took his frustration out in a funny way. He posted it on a humor site, and therefore isn’t responsible for what those that read fiction as the truth do. Just as whoever wrote The Bible isn’t responsible for what the Westboro Baptist Church does; David Thorne isn’t responsible for what his readers do.

      It is stated clearly on his website that the information is for amusement only, and that the articles contain misinformation. I’m sure that if you took two minutes out of your obviously very busy schedule, you could be able to see that.

      • Bazrik says:

        Wow Jay, so much is wrong with your statement it’s hard to know where to begin. The issue here is not whether or not Thorne tried to pass fiction off as fact – we know that his pieces are partially fabricated. We can read. The question is whether that’s FUNNY. It’s subjective – you find Thorne just hilarious – while others of us find his stunts lacking. That’s all. So, to each their opinion.

        But here’s where your comment turns truly silly – please don’t try and educate us as to the meaning of different kinds of comedy, when you don’t understand them yourself. Thorne’s pieces are not “parody”. See, parody is a “send up” of an original work by means of clever “imitation”. “Space Balls” is a parody of “Star Wars”, and science fiction in general. Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” is a parody of all Arthurian films and stories. And so on. In your contemporary frame of reference, “Scary Movie” would be an example of a “parody” – but it differs from the other two films I listed in that it sucks.

        As I said, Thorne’s work is not parody. It is half truth/half fiction because, when his actual pranks fall short, he needs to start fabricating to make them funny.

        So, see, we’re not arguing that he’s deceived us. We’ve read his disclaimers, we get it. We’re not saying he’s a liar. We’re saying he can occasionally be something much, much worse – lame.

    • laughingatyou says:

      Apparently someone does not know the meaning of satire. You should read ‘A Modest Proposal’ to brush up. Mr. Thorne’s poetic license is no more damaging to that business than Jonathan Swifts were to the fortunes of the British aristocracy.

      • mike says:

        There’s a fine line between satire and libel. Thorne was crossing pretty far over into the latter on this one.

  3. David Thorne says:

    It is interesting that the day this small story is posted here, Anton turns up uninvited at my private premises and interrogates my frightened partner as to my whereabouts in a threatening manner.

    • What? I hope you’re not implying I had anything to do with that.

      1) I don’t know where you live.
      2) I don’t know Anton, and have never met him in person (don’t even know what he looks like). I’ve only interacted with Function 4 folks via phone and email. No one would talk to me about the story when I went in there.

      I hope your partner is okay.

      • David Thorne says:

        She is fine. I have spoken to Anton this afternoon and the visit was misconstrued. He seems like a decent guy and these things have, like I have mentioned, a two week life-span on the internet.

    • Brooke says:

      David, does it not occur to you that Anton is showing up at your house looking for you is far more likely the direct result of what YOU did in fabricating the contents of your correspondence with him? I’m quite sure Brent had nothing to do with Anton showing up, and it has everything to do with your lame stunt(s).

      It’s a shame your partner, and innocent party, is getting caught in the middle of this drama, and I hope your partner is ok. They shouldn’t have to deal with this. At the same time, don’t you think maybe YOU bear at least a little responsibility here for the backlash you’ve created? You publish fabricated information (as well as “Free Offers”) that have a direct negative impact on someone’s business and livelihood. I would say IF this happened (and isn’t another fabrication), that you bear just as much responsibility as Anton does.

      • David Thorne says:

        Because you interpret part of what you read to mean the entire article is fabricated, does not make it so. The fact is that I did purchase gloves on their recomendation, they bled black ink over a $400 G-Star jacket, and I was told to “fnck off” when I aksed to swap the gloves for non leaking ones. I feel I was quite fair in this request and did not ask for a refund or compensation for the ruined jacket.

        I have exchanged emails with Anton since the article was posted on my website and he has represented himself as courteous and professional and apologetic for the incidence. After of course I posted the article.

        It therefore came as a surprise that he would go to the effort of tracking down my residence and demanding to know my whereabouts.

        Also, I am no stranger to repurcussions. Just as businesses shouldn’t be to when providing customer service as poor as this.

        • Brooke says:

          Did Anton, or did Anton NOT, use the exact words in the e-mails you published in your article. Simple question. Go.

          • David Thorne says:

            A certain amount of context has to be added to theses exchanges. Otherwise I would have to explain the background for each article I post.

            Also, in regards to “feeding the troll”, it is all about factions. The material I write is constructed to initiate discussion and argument and therefore factions. This generates audience and, in this case, book contracts with large publishers.

        • Brooke says:

          And, the question of the possible alteration or fabrication of e-mails aside, the free offer you posted definitely qualifies as fabricated, and definitely has a direct and negative impact on someone’s business.

          • Jodie says:

            As there are 30+ comments within 24 hours, Thorne’s comment above regarding his articles initiating discussion certainly seems correct. This is what he does and he seems to have become very successful at it. Also, he could have just said “no they are all true” but he didn’t, he said that the exchange was based on factual interaction with Function 4 not that he fabricated anything. It should also be noted that the emails from Anton saying he would like to sort things out are after the article was posted. The way Brent has worded it makes it sound like they are the emails. I don’t think this is the case and I think Anton only emailed him to difuse the issue after it was already posted on the website.

          • Scott Whitten says:

            I hear what you’re saying Brooke, but can you be sure that Mr. Thorne’s stunt had a “negative impact” on Function 4? I know the idea that “no publicity is bad publicity” doesn’t always apply, but I imagine this has raised the store’s profile quite a bit and it wouldn’t deter me from shopping there. It is also my understanding that people who called in about free snowboards were offered a discount which might have actually boosted sales. I’m sure that it has been annoying for employees having to field all those phone calls, but I wouldn’t be so sure that the business has been negatively affected. This is, of course, speculation so I would be interested to hear from someone who knows for sure.

          • Scott Whitten says:

            I would also like to note that I’m not trying to be an apologist for David Thorne, I just think that it’s an interesting point to consider.

          • Joe says:

            Anyone running a business today is concerned about their online reputation. I chafe at reading about a publicity stunt ruining an online reputation. I sure hope in this case that payback is a MF. Karma, God, please let him have it..

          • Brooke says:

            Scott – The article states that Function 4 Sports have already noticed a considerable amount of negative “reviews” as a result. I’m a bit of a skeptic, so I went and did a Google Search myself, and sure enough, if you Google Function 4 Sports, and David Thorne, and check review sites, you can see that they’ve garnered a fair number of negative reviews being submitted by people who have merely read the alleged exchange between Mr. Thorne and the owner. The either link to the blog or recount the exchange as though it’s 1st hand information.

            While only time will tell for sure, I’d say that’s fairly likely to have a negative impact on their business. The fact that it even has the potential to do so is what should give any “humorist” pause before they begin attributing words that have been embellished (for the sake of “context” or “entertainment”) to actual names and e-mail addresses. Context or not, if the e-mails aren’t the person’s actual words, then it’s a lie, and a harmful one, because most of the people who are fans of this blog don’t realize these are not factual exchanges.

            I’d have a lot less heartburn with what this guy does, if there was a disclaimer that outright said that these were not verbatim exchanges, that they are embellished for “context” and “entertainment,” and are not to be taken as fact.

          • Scott Whitten says:

            I see what you’re saying about the disclaimer Brooke. He hides behind a necessarily vague statement on his site that all content is for his amusement only. The implication inherent in his brand of humor, however, is that the emails he posts are completely authentic and I’m sure his site wouldn’t be nearly as popular with the type of disclaimer you suggest.

            You do have a point about the potential to hurt a business in this particular case. I was just entertaining the possibility that this type of publicity, albeit negative, could actually create more awareness of the business and bring in more customers (through discounts offered to those who called in about the “promotion”). Without obtaining any real sales numbers from Function 4 my point is reduced to mere speculation. You seem to be more concerned with Thorne’s lack of consideration and I can’t imagine that his goal was to increase sales for Function 4, so I’m willing to just consider my point moot for now.

  4. Wick says:

    Based solely on the info in this story my impression is that David Thorne is to humor or entertainment as Fox News is to journalism.

    • Jodie says:

      And yet he has a book deal with Penguin. Which would put your impression in the minority. No?

      • Will says:

        A large percentage of Fox News contributors have book deals with major publishers (think Palin, Beck Etc). This does not make them a legitimate news source. Same principle applies to Thorne.

        • Joe says:

          This analogy holds no ground. Humor is relative, whereas truth in news is not. No matter how many people believe Fox News is legitimate, its legitimacy remains the same. However, the more people that believe David Thorne is funny, the funnier he is, because by definition; people thinking you are funny makes you funny.

          • Joe says:

            However, if you were referring to Thorne’s legitimacy and not his humor, you are beating a dead horse. He admits himself he takes an artistic license with it, so you aren’t making any point by implying he exaggerates information.

  5. nicklaus combs says:

    appropriate use of lol here. stop feeding the trolls especially brooke.

    • nicklaus combs says:

      meaning brooke stop feeding him what he wants.

    • Brooke says:

      I just don’t like that he’s trying to blame Brent for something he bears direct responsibility for, and so I felt the need to confront him. But you’re absolutely right, he’s probably enjoying this, so I’ll stop engaging him.

      • nicklaus combs says:

        youre assuming he isnt fabricating the truth there…..

      • Brooke says:

        Not really. I think just about everything this guy says is suspect. At best elements may be true, and at worst most, if not all, are fabrications and embellishments. I was just saying even IF aspects of the story were true, it wouldn’t make Brent in any way responsible for reporting on it, and it wouldn’t absolve David of responsibility for any potential backlash from his pranks. :-)

        • David Thorne says:

          Do you work with Anton at Function 4 Sports or know Anton externally by any chance Brooke?

          • Brooke says:

            I have never been to Function4Sports. And I neither know, nor have I ever met, Anton.

  6. Renee says:

    I read the initial version of the exchange on 27b/6 and found it hilarious. However, I find it somewhat less funny after finding out Function 4 did eventually try to make amends.

    It would be best for the author to put a disclaimer on the satirical site explaining that some of the exchange is exaggerated or made up to add to the humor. Then, it would still be funny and make the point about the bad customer service without people going on to believe it actually happened exactly that way in reality and attributing the quotes to the business owners directly.

    • Renee says:

      This is especially important since the 27b/6 site displays the conversation as an email thread, as if it were copied and pasted, making it seem even more like it is a direct quote.

    • EPS Patrick says:

      Why not just create a fake store name?

  7. As someone who has written and published several books, I must note that it is a business as much as selling sports equipment. David Thorne should be a bit more professional about what he cooks up so that he can sell books. Being funny is great, but not if one is seriously misrepresenting events or other people to their damage in doing so.

    • Jodie says:

      Yes, but he is published with Penguin. He must be doing something more right than you.

      • Jodie,

        Speaking without knowing what you are talking about are you? Some of the books I have published have been very academic, not making much money, although useful in terms of prestige and future contracts. However, others have not done so badly monetarily, going into multiple printings and editions.

        The most successful in terms of money making has been the textbook, Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy, coauthored with my wife. adopted for use at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, among other places, now in its second edition and published by MIT Press. How does that stack up with Penguin?

        I also sit on the editorial boards of two publishers, so know quite a bit about the business as well as having served as a journal editor.

        • And Jodie, let us be clear. If Mr. Thorne is trying to make money by fabricating stuff about real people that is hurtful to him, he may soon find that no publisher will be interested in his work if they have to defend themselves against libel suits, so please get real here.

          • “hurtful to them,” not “to him,” although it will end up being so if that is what he is doing (which I have no independent knowledge of one way or the other).

  8. Chris Foster-Baril says:

    If you get a chance, check out David’s site. There’s some pretty great stuff on there. It’s kind of a bummer now that it seems that some of the correspondence is made up; but maybe it should be obvious, seeing as that situations like this don’t generally fall into one’s lap on a constant basis.

    Yeah, maybe this example hits a little close to home for those who post on this blog, but there are ways that Function Four could have used this to their advantage and they didn’t.

  9. Derrick C. says:

    Honestly I think more than just one thing transpired for thorne to get angry. I have never had a bad experience in f4s. If any thing the thorne guys email records should be checked to see wether or not thorne is lying or telling the truth. Also I have never heard an employ of f4s curse once.


  10. Apparently a few months before Thorne experienced bad customer service at Function 4 (resulting in an apology, and someone getting fired) his paying fans experienced bad customer service, resulting in Thorne apologizing, and firing someone.

    • Jodie says:

      Which Thorne explained:

      Having a distributor stuff up a few orders is hardly the same as a store telling customers to —- off as the only responsibility Thorne would have had in that case is choosing the wrong distributor. In Function 4s case it was direct business to customer interaction. But yes, I suppose there is a vague connection or at least a ‘huh’ between the two.

  11. So, let me get this straight… Thorne has admitted to lying about the incident, correct? I mean, he can say it’s all in fun, and that it’s his schtick, or whatever, but in the end it’s largely just lying. I reckon he’s probably telling the truth–or something like it–about the original incident, so that counts for something. After that, he seems to have–as we’d say back home–made sh*t up. (We don’t speak in asterisks or anything back in the Ozarks, incidentally…but, well…anyway…) Also, let me point out that, after poking around his site a bit, he’s not funny. I mean, that kind of humor was funny in, like, 2005 or so, but it’s everywhere, it’s not original, and you can only tolerate so much of it. I mention this not because it’s particularly relevant, but only to be mean, because Thorne sounds like he deserves it. Publish facts about the incident…make fun of the offenders, etc. But don’t fabricate allegedly direct quotes. That is not cool, dude. Not. Cool.

    • Jodie says:

      “he’s not funny” – yet he gets 100,000 plus unique visitors per day to his website, has 80,000 twitter followers, 80,000 facebook followers, a television series deal with CBS and a new book published by Penguin. (yes, I have just done my homework and he now has 1 more follower on twitter). He’s not doing to badly for someone “not funny”. Perhaps you should send your quote about not speaking in asterisks in the Ozarks to CBS and Penguin. Apparently there is a huge market for “not funny”.

      • LOL…I guess Carrot Top and Gallagher are comic geniuses by your intriguing criteria, Jodie… Throughout this thread you’ve desperately defended Thorne–who is, as I’ve noted, simply not funny. I don’t know what to tell you. Millions of people think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president. Millions enjoy listening to Justin Beiber’s “music”… An aesthetic *ad populum* just isn’t going to prove your point. You can repeat your “ZOMG he’s got a deal with Penguin!” mantra as many times as you like, but it won’t make him funny, and it won’t make him right. The guy would be a *little bit* amusing if he didn’t have to fabricate his own straight men. But what’s kinda funny if it’s real is not funny at all when it’s fiction…and that’s what Thorne’s stuff apparently is.
        (And, as for my line…it was intended to be a very minor, throw-away witticism…it’s not like I thought it should get OMG A BOOK DEAL FROM PENGUIN!!1…but your desperation is showing, and that, itself, is getting to be a little funny, I must admit…)

        Thorne showed his true colors during the Reddit incident–he was posting his own stuff, which is a no-no. When some redditors found out and, incidentally, complained that they hadn’t received copies of his book, one of Thorne’s employees posted said redditors’ personal info and refused to remove it until they deleted their complaints, and then Thorne posted a snide pseudo-apology.

        Man, that’s gold, baby! This man is clearly the Jonathan Swift of our time…

  12. Emmy says:

    Anyone want to bet Jodie’s has a close relationship with this guy?

    Minority or not, I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s wrong to mess with someone elses life when all you had was bad customer service (from someone else all together) and the person went out of their way to make it right for you. I don’t care who he has a book deal with, that doesn’t make his life more important. In a time when everyone is trying to hold on to their jobs and keep their head above water I think it is cruel to do things that could potentially cost them business for the sake of their own desire to be funny.

    • I don’t think Jodie has to know him to defend him. His website does have over 90,000 fans on Facebook.

      I’m just not one of them.

      • Jodie says:

        Which comes across pretty obviously in your non-biased news report.

        • bazrik says:

          Easy there, Jodie – Brent and crew run a great site, and do an excellent job. It’s a lot easier to tear someone down than to actually try and pull off something like site yourself, where commenting is open, and a true forum is created. …plus, Brent was kind of defending your point of view. Maybe dial back the cynicism for one minute? …or would that damage your hard-nosed NYC “rep”?

        • Brent Finnegan says:

          Yes, I suppose it is obvious that I’m not a fan on his Facebook page, since I’m not listed there.

          FWIW, I’ve previously emailed and shared his Massanutten and spider stories, as well as stories from Emails From An A**hole, so I’m not unfamiliar with the fratire formula. I just (foolishly) assumed they were real exchanges.

    • Jodie says:

      Pfft. I live in NYC. I have never even been to Harrisonburg (or Australia for that matter) and apart from reading his website and buying his book I have no relationship with him. I simply find him hilarious and it seems to me that for once, bad customer service met the wrong person. They should take the opportunity to learn and benefit from the experience.

      He retaliated. He didn’t initiate. I am yet to find a single article on his website where he has initiated the issue. I understand standing up to bad customer service, by whatever means you have at your disposal, may seem surprising to most sheep.

      The fact is, he was treated badly, he responded and THEN Anton became the “poor victim”. No. It is good that he is now attempting to do the right thing but this is after the fact. What part about that are you people missing?

      • He retaliated, it seems, *by lying about what happened.* I guess “the salesman was a **** to me, I complained, the owner was reasonable and fired the guy” won’t get you ZOMG A BOOK DEAL WITH PENGUIN…

        Maybe he could call his book _A Million Little Pieces_ because…no, wait…

        • Scott Whitten says:

          Interesting that you mention ‘A Million Little Pieces’ Winston. My reaction to that book was similar to my thoughts on Mr. Thorne’s work. When I first read Frey’s book I got the sense that reality had been stretched a bit and thought to myself “this is pretty good IF it’s all true”. I have been reading 27b/6 for almost a year now and have enjoyed it to the point of restraining guffaws at my desk from time to time. Now I have an inkling that large portions of the interactions posted there are faked and it just isn’t as funny to me anymore. The main difference is that Thorne could argue that his stuff is presented as humorous fodder rather than as a melodramatic biography. Still, I can’t help but feel less amused by his website at this point. Mr. Thorne is a talented and hilarious writer, but the humor on his website doesn’t work as much for me if it has a tenuous connection to reality.

          • It’s perfectly reasonable to be less amused by a story if it’s presented as fact and turns out to be…well, let’s euphemistically call it “fiction”…

            Consider the following:

            Oh, man, like, suppose that Winston Churchill was talking to somebody really stuck up and all, y’know, *proper*… I dunno, let’s say it was Lady Astor or somesuch. Then, like, imagine that she had been all like (snooty British voice) “Sir if you were my husband, I should poison your tea!” And then what if Churchill had been all “Madam, if you were my wife, I should drink it!”


            With this kind of humor, what’s funny as fact is not funny as fiction.

      • Annie says:

        “Retaliation” is not necessary in the Shenandoah Valley. Respectful disagreeemnt and civil discourse can be and should be used to resolve any disagreement. The “retaliation” solution is no resolution.

      • Jodie,

        Plenty of successful operations have collapsed into heaps when those running them got too full of themselves and overstepped the boundaries. I do not know Thorne and I do not know the degree to which his current successes at signing contracts is based on hurtful lying about other people. But it looks like he is near the line, if not over it, and really needs to watch it if he really wants to make a lasting success of what he is doing rather than some pathetic flash in the pan.

    • I’m betting: sock puppet.

  13. Laura says:

    Function 4 has gotten a ton a free advertising from Thorne’s hilarious albeit somewhat fictional posting of his experience. No one has had a ruined life and the business has not been damaged beyond repair.

    Thorne is Hilarious! His bit on the Massanutten MPOA is classic and although I’m sure modified, entirely possible.

    Get a life people – it’s called entertainment!

    • bazrik says:

      Get a life! Like, whatever. Talk to the hand, girlfriend!

      …Function 4 didn’t get free “advertising”. They got publicity, exposure – a big difference there. The exposure they got is based on a negative, so there’s really no way you can say that their business wasn’t hurt. Maybe they deserve it…but man, it would be a lot better if Thorne didn’t feel the need to “embellish”. If it’s fact, then list the facts. If it’s fiction, why drag someone’s actual name and business into the mix and then throw in made-up elements? It’s like what some of these other posters have said – his stuff was funny as hell when I first read it. But then I was a little “oooh, it’s fake. Well, that’s a shame.”

      And posting a fake ad – that could actually get you in hot water, legally. Function 4’s showing some restraint in not involving lawyers.

      Anyhoo – yeah, Thorne can be funny, but in that bitter, jaded, negative kind of way that is now getting a tad old for my taste. But I guess I just need to get a life, like totally.

      • Yes, and then we have the Jodies of the world who feel that they can lecture us yokels here because s/he is in New York and is very impressed by Penguin, not to mention possible CBS contracts, even if the basis of all this is potentially libelous falsehoods.

  14. Chloe says:

    Having been a customer of Fuction 4 Sports, I have to agree with Thorne on some points. Their employees are generally lazy, tending to lounge behind the counter instead of helping customers, and being reluctant to go through the “hassle” of ringing a customer up once they’ve decided upon a purchase–without any help.

    I read Thorne’s article and couldn’t stop laughing. While the article may have been damaging to the company’s online reputation, Funtion 4 Sports is going to get business from the Massanutten crowd regardless of said reputation, simply because that crowd helps feed Harrisonburg’s business community.

  15. maximus says:

    What David did is just immature and unnecessary. He might do it for entertainment but he’s damaging someone’s reputation. What goes around comes around. And for people that fallow that irresponsible guy, you need to grow up. David you shouldn’t be such a cry baby and make stuff up or stretch the truth for attention. You got serious problems, mate. Grow up and suck it up.

  16. kuato says:

    For what its worth, I love Function 4 sports. I have been in the store maybe 15 times.

    Function 4 is a laid back winter-sports store (sometimes), or whatever it feels like being in the moment. It is NOT an aggresive, go-gettem, up-in-your-busineness kind of place, which to me is one of its most endearing qualities. The guys there are not always completely professional, and it doesn’t suprise me to hear that something went wrong, but everyone in that store has always been super nice to me – flexible and helpful. It is a store that I LIKE to support because it consistently meets my needs and makes me feel welcome and comfortable in the process.

  17. Dawn says:

    This is great!
    As a business owner of over 20 years in sn industry where honesty, integrity, and knowledge are our trademarks in an industry with one if the worst reputations in the world.. Auto repair,
    David, THANK YOU!!!

  18. King says:

    Part of running a business is hiring good employees and firing bad ones. The business deserved it for the dude saying “fnck off.” I don’t care how much is fictional after that single line being true, when an employee of a company says that in a company setting to a customer who purchased a defective item when the customer is in the right for once, then the company deserves the negative publicity that comes with.

    • Yeah, I understand the points re: customer service, integrity, etc. Nothing chaps me more than when a business gets the business/customer relationship backwards. That’s when you wind up with uppity “barristas”, arrogant waiters, etc.

      …but from a comedy perspective – in the debate over what’s “funny” – just ain’t the same with a lot of his stuff being fabricated. For what it’s worth.

  19. Aaron Sheffield says:

    I check in with 27b/6 every few months.  It really gets me where I live.  It should be obvious to any reader that there is a degree of artistic licence in all the articles.  It’s not really important.  The bits like this snow-shop one are clearly based in real instances of David Thorne gawping at the irrationality of idiots that have polluted his life space.  Nothing less would motivate him.  I saw the latest 27b/6 post this morning, and was lead to this thread by curiosity about the impact David’s slap would have.
     One of the things David Thorne does is to give articulate voice to the frustration of all intelligent, creative and rational people who find themselves occasionally at the mercy of petty minded imbeciles who have, inexplicably, managed to get hold of some small (sometimes not so small) bureaucratic beating-stick.  In this case, someone who apparently felt the specialised nature of the shop they worked in, and their own specialised knowledge concerning playing in the snow, gave them license to push poor quality merchandise on people who know less than them, and then be a jerk when they get called on it.  For me that justifies the prank ad.  Further to that there seems to have been an exchange of emails between David Thorne and Anton Ganev (or someone in the company) regarding the advert.  It seems that these were the emails that became the basis of the posting on 27b/6 and, Anton’s outright denails not notwithstanding, there is no way to know how much of the posted exchange is a fiction.  I’ve seen the excerpts from the emails sent AFTER the 27b/6 posting, but I think it unlikely that the tone of the first contact email to David Thorne would have been so positive or apologetic regarding the treatment he got in the store, and it could well be that Anton’s subsequent online roasting was a deserved reaction to the way in which he conducts himself or his business.  I certainly hope that this is the case.  
    The 27b/6 emails are hysterical (this is not up for debate, if you don’t think they’re funny you’re an idiot, go watch Dane Cook and let the grown-ups talk), but for me they would be undermined if they were not also righteous.  The success of 27b/6 has given David Thorne the power, should he so chose, to crap on individuals and organisations from a great height.  I would hope that he would only use the names of real people and companies in his pseudo-exposé material if they had somehow brought it on themselves. 

  20. Bazrik says:

    Wow. You love him.

  21. Judy Schmitz says:

    I’m on online retailer and I read David’s blog so that I can derive the documented benefits of hysterical laughing. I love all of them. I deny that they are made up. I absolutely deny it. They HAVE to be true! Why do I say that? Because I have met the people he is using in his pieces. I actually think of David more as a performance artist. Here’s the kick. I have employees who definitely do stuff that would totally piss david off. And every time I fire one and think I have found another who won’t do stupid sh**t and screw up my online relationships with my customers – cuz thats what they are – r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-p-s I find another one who loses it and ‘blames the customer’. Honestly, david, I am TRYING not to get ‘parodied’ by your site – you don’t knit, do you. That said, I totally feel for function 4 – but, on the flip side – just google the NYtimes article about the evil person selling sunglasses on Amazon – the guys hunts people down and threatens them, and tells them they were stupid to buy from him without researching the backoground (almost all bad) on his site and sales. I am not like that guy – I have OODLES of lovely customers who love my shop – but I tremble at the thought of this kind of reaction to one of my idiot employees! I know it will happen, the odds are just against me. Ok, I am going to fire everyone right now. I also have customers who should be fired – like the ones that swear that I have stolen 22$ from them INTENTIONALLY, not sending their stuff, deceiving them ON PURPOSE and in ALL CAPS. Like i build a whole online business so i can STEAL their $22.00. Right. Makes me cry.

    But then I’ll go back and read some more on davids blog, because honestly, when everything really sucks, I read the one about the free logo design or the spider and fall off my chair laughing. And its’ all good.

  22. Eric A. Wolf says:

    I love David’s style! I do the same thing in similar circumstances, but I am a ‘noob’ in comparison to him and his wit. Sometimes its the only way to get statisfaction, particularly when Small Claims Court is too expensive and time-consuming. Funny to say that, considering I’m a paralegal…but anyway…. The crux of this situation is, had David not ‘done something’ about his mis-treatment it would have ended with him being screwed-over and the store thumbing its nose at him. Lets not forget that the main point here is that the store became all sanctimonious only AFTER David rattleed their cage. All subsequent ‘realities’ are irrelvant and entirely appropriate. Way to go MISTER Thorne! And, you’ll be happy to know Mr. Thorne, that thanks to me, all of my friends and colleagues are now following your material on 27B/6! (Which means you now have about 3 more followers, by my estimation) lol! Keep up the good work!

  23. Chris says:

    jeez, its a grey area but there’s poetic licence, and there’s bulldust. And when bulldust is passed off as truth, it makes the person who’s doing it seem like the kid at school who was desperately trying to make himself popular.

    Carlos Castenada did it his whole life. Sure, he made book sales and a lot of money. But in the end his books got trashed, and he is remembered as a pitiful BS artist.

    Pity, cos I had David’s website bookmarked for a year and enjoyed sending it around to friends. He definitely has a talent. I dunno if he’ll try, but I’d like to see him come back from this damaging expose and alter the way his pieces are presented (eg. more truth, or more labelling as fiction). Otherwise he’s potentially leaving a nasty legacy for young Seb.

  24. seth says:

    just heard npr advertising thorne’s book on all things considered. while the reporter didn’t claim that the book was unmanipulated truth (nor did mr. thorne), they didn’t give any indication that there’s a degree of artistic license in play either. thought it was interesting….

  25. Cam says:

    Like his books title says…”the internet is a playground”
    It just goes to show, dont piss people off, or they will write you off.

  26. Previous Employee says:

    I was at the register when Thorne came in requesting a refund. What he failed to mention in his “oh so funny” articles is that he bought his girlfriend a pair of gloves that were not meant to be used snowboarding. No where on the package did it state that the gloves were waterproof, they were meant to be used as liners for thicker gloves. Thorne was told by a supervisor he would need to call the manufacturing company in order to get more information on a reimbursement. On the way out of the store he tried to hide a new pair of gloves in his jacket and when he was asked to put them back on the shelves, he threw them at the supervisor he had been talking to.

    On the flip side, I am not defending Function 4 in the least bit. They failed to file taxes for part time employees and I’m sure this wasn’t the first year they have done so. They also tried to cut my paychecks along with trying to make me choose between hourly and commission. Most of my co-workers were great to be around but you can understand our frustration in working there. If you are female I would think twice about applying. Ganev is very sexist; pictures are requested in the application process if you are female. He hires based on looks and then treats you as if you were incompetent.

    Overall they have great equipment but their business is not run very legally. Most of the customers that are complaining about the place are most likely those that have not treated the employees with respect. What goes around comes around. Harrisonburg needs another snow sports shop.

    • Mac says:

      If he asked for waterproof gloves as he stated he should be able to rely on the selection of the store personnel and not assume that they are lying or clueless which they must have been to recommend those gloves when he asked for water resistant gloves.

      Either way, anyone who knows this store knows that he has characterized the basics correctly. The place is regarded by the local snowsport enthusiasts as an overpriced tourist trap with staff that are any combination of clueless, in attentive, inconsiderate and obnoxious. Anton only played nice after he and his business were put under the microscope.

      In addition one has to be a total muppet to not realize that David’s articles are satire and much of the email exchange is exaggerated and fabricated for amusement.

  27. Lou says:

    Function 4 is obviously trying to do some damage control with their online reputation. Though the owner might have not acted the way Thorne stated, he is being deceitful by paying for false reviews.

  28. Jeff says:

    I have read everything on 27b/6 and must conclude that you, Mr. Thorne, have a great talent mixing words, humor, satire, and a very biting wit. While not everything on 27b/6 was my particular cup of tea, a good bit of it was.

    It would appear, though, that while I understand not all of the email exchanges are 100% accurate and some artistic license has been taken, some of the sheep who read your site don’t. Therefore they take your postings and use them to spread disinformation on the internet “playground” which has very real impact on the livelihood of your targets; one which can last beyond a two week shelf life. I find it a bit sad that such a talented individual would willingly act as a neglectful shepherd in such matters.

    In times such as these, Mr. Thorne, willful attempts at handicapping how someone feeds their family and offers employment in the community is a very stupid thing to do. Also, blaming the author of this article for Mr. Ganev knocking on your door? Really? Doesn’t that seem a bit thin-skinned for someone who is trying to make a living by provoking and making fun of other people? Quite frankly, sir, I would think that beneath someone of your intelligence and ability.

    A false ad, manufactured email exchange, and the subsequent bad reviews by sheep who have never been within miles of Function 4 Sports is, in my opinion, nothing short of an act of economic terrorism. I find it laudable that Mr. Ganev took some of the same steps that you did when 116 people did not get your book (ie firing an employee that posted personal information on the web in a completely unprofessional act of spite and making amends to those who had received bad service) instead of making your life miserable for a while. It could have very well been a Sheriff’s Deputy delivering a summons to your door instead of the owner of the shop you defamed trying to make amends.

    In conclusion, Mr. Thorne, I do sincerely hope that your efforts against Mr Ganev and the revenue to his business was well worth the cost of a $44 pair of gloves and a $400 jacket. I also sincerely hope that the same tactics will never be used on you. It can be a very humiliating thing for one to be hoisted by their own petard, especially when the fall can be from such a dizzying height.

  29. Ollie says:

    Okay, so let me get this straight: can or can I not get a free snowboard?

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