If you are a mom and pop restaurant near Harvard University you might want to think twice about serving Business School professor Ben Edelman. That’s because after getting takeout from the Sichuan Garden, a family owned Chinese restaurant and bar, Prof. Edelman took things to DEFCON 1 after he perceived that he was overcharged by… $4. Hopefully they gave him a good fortune cookie.
Who do you agree with? The business professor or the business owner?
Edelman sent several long emails to the restaurant describing his order, itemizing each food item and pointing out the price discrepancy between what he paid and what was listed on their online menu. On a bill totaling $53.35, this came out to FOUR dollars more than he had expected. Ran Duan whose parents founded the restaurant responded to the emails in a courteous fashion, apologizing and explaining that those prices are old and haven’t been updated in a long time.. again it was F-O-U-R dollars. The average Harvard professor salary is $198,400 a year. That’s when Edelman pulled out the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statue that stops companies from advertising one price and charging another and threatened legal action. So way to stick it to The Man. Seriously you got to read these emails below.
Did not care for the Orange Chicken or the "misleading" online order menu.
This kind of lawyering, maneuvering and threats might be warranted when your insurance company charges you 100K for an in-hospital aspirin or Comcast Cable overcharges you for thousands of dollars and ruins your credit, only to get you fired. While being very accommodating and apologetic to the professor, agreeing to refund him the four dollars even though he was charged the correct amount on the new menu- at a certain point in the emails it seems that Duan starts to realize that he is dealing with a crazy person. This happens when the professor informs him that he is going to involve the authorities and Duan thanks him, telling him he will let them decide how to handle and resolve the issue.
I was really hoping that this was the basis for a new edition of those “Letters From A Nut” books where a supposed “angry customer” Ted L. Nancy would write to a company complaining about some ridiculous made up problem only to have said company respond, taking it overly seriously. Those were classic, but tragically Ben Edelman is a real person who teaches Harvard students Negotiation, Organization and Markets”
Maybe it was a class project to see how the buissness would respond?
I wouldn’t have been as nice as Ran Duan who has years of experience operating a successful small business. The only people I feel sorry for more than the Chinese restaurant, are Edelman’s students, Harvard faculty and family members who have to deal with him on a daily basis. Those poor bastards though know he’s an asshole, but I fear the repercussions of his dickish world view will last generations as eventually Edelman’s students will graduate. Apparently Edelman is teaching his students how to be insane assholes, the type of business men and women who we will have to “bailout” down the road because they ruthlessly got everything their way. If you think I’m being harsh on this guy read the escalating emails below.
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney