Harvard Business School Professor Freaks Out Over $4 Mistake On Bill From Chinese Restaurant
A Professor at Harvard Business School had a rather bizarre reaction to a $4 error on a bill from a Brookline, Mass. Chinese restaurant:
Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit.
Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food fromSichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location.
Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.
At the link you’ll find an email exchange between Edelman and Duan regarding an apparent $4 error in Edelman’s bill that apparently involved a discrepancy between the price quoted for item(s) that Edelman ordered for delivery on the restaurant’s website and the price on the receipt he was provided with. There doesn’t appear to have been any actual deception involved on the restaurant’s part, instead at worst it may have been an apparent misunderstanding or a failure to keep the website up to date, which perhaps isn’t entirely surprising for a family run restaurant. The email exchange, though, went on for nearly two days, with Edelman threatening to report the restaurant to local authorities for consumer fraud while Duan seems to be honestly interested resolving the matter. Regardless of who you think was in the wrong though, it’s worth keeping in context that this is all over four dollars
Despite the restaurant’s successful expansion, Duan admittted that Sichuan does not have the budget for teams devoted to public relations or a website that is updated as regularly as it should be.
“I personally respond to every complaint and try to handle every situation personally,” said Duan, who was profiled by Boston Magazine in June and featured in GQ Magazine last month as “America’s Most Imaginative Bartender.”
The exchange with Edelman stood out to Duan. “I have worked so hard to make my family proud and to elevate our business. It just broke my heart.”
Edelman told Boston.com that investigating pricing discrepancies by neighborhood restaurants isn’t something he does every day.
“I mostly look for malfeasance by larger companies,” he said. “It certainly seems like a situation that could call for legal redress. But this is a small business in the town where I reside.”
As for the troves of angry customers likely looking for recourse? Edelman pointed Boston.com to Massachusetts General Law, Section XV, Chapter 93A, Section 9. (Translation: If you didn’t pass the Massachusetts bar, but still feel as though you must do SOMETHING, then just gather all the receipts you’ve saved, along with all screenshots you took and saved of the website menu in case that dinner order ever ended up in court, find a lawyer whose fees aren’t likely to exceed the few dollars you’re seeking, and … voila?)
As for Edelman, he alerted town officials in Brookline about the matter, but told Boston.com he doesn’t expect them to take action. He plans to “take a few days” before deciding whether to pursue any further legal action against the restaurant.
Oh and the food? Edelman admitted: “It was delicious.”
Notwithstanding the mantra that “the customer is always right,” something tells me that Edelman may have had just a little too much free time on his hands this past weekend.