“If you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” It was perhaps this quotation from The Merchant of Venice that Edd Joseph had in mind when he first realised he’d been ripped off online.
Two weeks ago, the 24-year-old graphic designer spent £80 buying a PS3 games console from online marketplace Gumtree but was disappointed when the console failed to arrive, even after repeated attempts to contact the seller.
His response? To text the unscrupulous vendor the entire works of Shakespeare beginning with Macbeth.
"I was really annoyed and I was trying to think of ways of being more in the position of power because I felt so helpless about it,” Joseph told the Bristol Post.
"My first thought was that I could try and pretend I had found out where he lived but it was all a bit of a cliche and it wasn't going to worry him really.
"Then it just occurred to me you can copy and paste things from the internet and into a text message. It got me thinking, 'what can I sent to him' which turned to 'what is a really long book', which ended with me sending him Macbeth."
Joseph has been able to send the plays with minimum effort by copy and pasting the plays from his phone’s web browser into the messaging app, which automatically breaks the text up into 160-word messages and sends them one by one. A phone contract from O2 with unlimited text messaging takes care of the costs.
Macbeth was sent in 600 messages, All’s Well That Ends Well took 861 and Hamlet –Shakespeare’s longest play – was staggered over a smartphone-crippling 1,143 texts.
Joseph has so far sent 22 of Shakespeare 37 works and thinks that by the time his revenge comedy ends he will have delivered a total of 29,305 messages as payback to the online conman.
Unfortunately, this retribution will be the only satisfaction Joseph gets. He sent the user (who calls himself David Williams) the money for the PS3 via direct bank transfer and so broke Gumtree’s terms of services.
Joseph said that he started getting abusive messages in return from the seller pretty quickly. “I got the first reply after an hour, and then a few more abusive messages after that. His phone must have been going off pretty constantly for hours,” he said.
“Recently he has taken to calling me and giving me abuse on the phone. I tried to ask him if he was enjoying the plays, but he was very confused.
"I'm not a literary student, and I'm not an avid fan of Shakespeare but I've got a new appreciation you could say - especially for the long ones."