An elegant young Harvard Business School associate professor ordered some Chinese food the other day. Boston.com has the story.
Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location.
Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out.
(Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)
The correspondence follows. Edelman ordered from a menu on the website of Sichuan Garden, and each item (of four) was charged $1 over the price on the menu. Edelman pointed this out, Duan apologized for the fact that the website hadn’t been updated recently. Edelman demanded a triple refund.
And then it got worse, and then worse, and then worse again. Check it out, because it’s quite a display of patrician bullying and cruelty.
Updating to add: the Guardian also reports.
Duan responded an hour or so later, telling Edelman that his is a “mom and pop restaurant” and plaintively offers to honour the website price. But it was too late for hearts and minds with Edelman.
“It strikes me that merely providing a refund to a single customer would be an extremely light sanction for the violation that has occurred,” he replied. “To wit, your restaurant overcharged all customers who viewed the website and placed a telephone order – the standard and typical way to order takeout. You did so knowingly, knowing that your website was out of date.”
“You don’t seem to recognise that this is a legal matter and calls for a more thoughtful and far-reaching resolution. Nor do you recognise the principle, well established in applicable laws, that when a business intentionally overcharges a customer, the business should suffer a penalty larger than the amount of the overcharge.”
The exchange went on in the same vein. Duan offered to refund the difference, and the $12 which Edelman demanded, to no avail.
A rich guy has been overcharged $4! This must not stand!
Another useful lesson in what not to be.