CHINA TOPIX

Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

Make CT Your Homepage

Harvard Prof Apologizes For Rant Over $4 Excess Chinese Food Bill

Chinese Food

(Photo : Reuters) A serving of food which according to restaurant staff, is similar to what Chinese President Xi Jinping ate when he visited on Saturday, is pictured on a table after it was ordered by a diner at the Qing-Feng steamed buns restaurant in Beijing, December 29, 2013. Xi showed off the common touch on Saturday with a surprise visit to the steamed bun restaurant in Beijing where he paid for his food and happily chatted to surprised customers. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY FOOD BUSINESS)

Ben Edelman, a professor of Negotiations, Organizations & Markets at Harvard Business School, found himself on Wednesday at the receiving end of netizen lash in response to his rant against a Chinese restaurant in Boston that overcharged him US$4 for four take-out orders he made.

Like Us on Facebook

The $57.35 bill he received angered Edelman who thought he was overcharged by U$1 per item because he used an old online menu that didn't reflect current prices. He not only demanded from Ran Duan, the owner of Sichuan Garden restaurant in Brookline, a US$4 refund by email but sought $12 based on a provision on a Massachusetts law that triples penalty for businesses that advertise one price and charges another price.

Duan, the son of migrants from China who started the business, apologized to Edelman and offered to refund the US$4. He also informed the professor that he has instructed the webmasters to change the menu price on Sichuan's website.

Since Edelman is an expert on the prevention and detection of online fraud, he was not satisfied with Duan's action and told the restaurant owner that he has contacted the proper authorities to deal with the matter at hand.

Edelman's email reads, "I have already referred his matter to the appropriate legal authorities in order to attempt to compel your restaurant to identify all customers affected and to provide refunds to all of them, or in any event to assure that an appropriate sanction is applied as provided by law," quotes Fox News.

Duan, in response, said he would wait for the order from authorities. He said that if the authorities would deem it proper for him to refund half of Edelman's bill, he would oblige.

Duan eventually shared their email exchange in public, and Edelman felt the public rage at his rants. It was only then that the Harvard professor realized he crossed the line for only US$4. He emailed an apology to Duan and promised to say sorry personally to the restaurant owner.


However, by then, the incident had gone viral with netizens giving Edelman a piece of their mind as well as making light of the situation. Here are some examples from Twitter.

"Turns out Ben Edelman is a serial dickhead. @HarvardHBS has to be embarrassed." - Ryan Sarver

"Need Ben Edelman to represent me against Chinese restaurants for all the grossly inaccurate forward looking statements in my fortune cookies." - anamitra banerji

"Uber to hire Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman as Chief Regulator Liaison next week, sources say." - Kontra

"The Web Sheriff Ben Edelman needs serious work on his apology game. Not the right time for slanty eye jokes." - David Portnoy

"This Ben Edelman story seems designed to confirm every prejudice I have about business professors and Harvard." - Jeet Heer

The Harvard professor, who surely earns more than US$4 per hour, just found out how expensive humble pie is.

Real Time Analytics