Harvard Business School professor apologizes to Chinese restaurant for being "very much out of line"




Heh. Perhaps he should lower his goal of “aspiring to great humility” to “aspiring not to be a complete and total douchbag”.


Meh, I agree with his basic point. Posting lower prices on your website and then overcharging customers is not only unethical, it’s illegal in MA. Furthermore, accepting restitution of only the difference you were swindled out of encourages the behavior of the propriietor instead of curbing the behavior, as increased penalties are designed to do.


It’s too bad that Edelman will go down in the collective consciousness as “that asshole who got in a fight with a restaurant over a $4 bill”. I don’t know him personally, but he does some really good work fighting against adware, affiliate fraud and similar nastiness. His research is very thorough and, in that sphere at least, he’s definitely on the side of the angels.


There’s a typically terse Scottish word that would, in a syllable, describe the likely conversation between this charming fellow and his masters at the big H, in which he was undoubtedly brought, perhaps roughly, to understand such exercise of imbalanced power portrays said big H in a dramatically and unacceptably unfavorable light: “telt”.


Kudos for the actual apology. (As opposed to the usual passive “non-apologies” one sees in this situation – i.e., “I’m sorry we had a misunderstanding”, “I’m sorry you feel that way”, “Mistakes were made”, etc.)


Here’s the right way to handle it originally: “Listen, I’m not going to make a huge stink over a dollar or two or three. But you really should have your website updated – ethically and legally. I mean, there are a lot of Massholes in this state – and some of them have nothing but time on their hands… time they’ll use eating up YOUR time and money over a few bucks.”

Well, whatever the deal is, best to get it straightened out before someone who cares notices.

---- end of conversation —


That’s exactly what I thought. It is the difference between what you can do and what you should do. People make mistakes, like this restaurant. But given the gravity of the mistake doesn’t mean they should get sued over something as petty as this–it is a waste of everyone’s time. Especially since the restaurant owner was neither belligerent or abusive.


Christ, what an asshole.

Now, he’s stuck with trying to un-piss a pond for anyone that google searches his name.


I posted this in the other thread about this, but supposedly this happened also. Boston.com isn’t the most reliable source, however.

They have another story as well about how he did this before with another restaurant.


They’ve removed the story - just says it’s something they cannot confirm now.


Ah, I was wondering if that would happen. The comments were really calling the story into question.


Earlier tonight, Boston.com published a piece suggesting Harvard
Business School Professor Ben Edelman sent an email with racist
overtones to Sichuan Garden. We cannot verify that Edelman, in fact,
sent the email (and we probably received a threatening email from
him about it, but we aren’t saying). We have taken the story down.


I’m not sure I completely understand the visceral hatred directed toward this guy. Yeah, he went a little overboard, but nobody likes getting ripped off. The fact that he was ripped off by a small business for $4 instead of a huge corporation for thousands is (I guess) a big part of it, but I also get the feeling that people see him as a privileged snob because he went to Harvard, and so naturally side with the working class guy . . . except the restaurant wasn’t completely blameless here either. You can choose which jerk you want to side with, but neither one is a saint.


He didn’t just go to Harvard. He’s a professor at the business school, a school that teaches those big corporations how to bust unions and screw their employees. But yeah, the story is a bit of a storm in a tea cup.


Ben’s consulting practice focuses on
preventing and detecting online fraud

Fraud detection rule #1: Be wary of any party immediately demanding a specific action (generally a cash payment, usually during a cs issue), especially when accompanied by wildly excessive threats (eg. legal action), more so when preseted as part of a massively over-exaggerated situation.

King of Nigeria: We shall immediately pay you the monies, you just need to do X by tomorrow or you will cause the jailing of your great great uncle’s niece’s father’s brother.

Ben The Legal Expert: Give me 3x the price you’ve rudley overcharged or legal action because massive legal quote because $4. No seriously - "please refund th $12 to my credit card, or you could mail a cheque for $12 to my home. "

Boy, this guy must really suck at his job…


In short, ben almost immediately pushed every single button for “pottential online fraudster” (other than the primary deciding factor - being totally 100% correct -but thats almost easily overlooked considering the amount of nonsense he added).

The restaurant meanwhile was shown to be a perfectly normal (read: mildly incompetent and not exactly jumping at the first chance to correct a small pricing/provisioning error by means of refund/replacement - so run-of-the-mill normal it hurts) business that had to be pushed before even attempting to (incorrectly) calculate the shortfall. Beyond that, the guy sounds amazing.

I’m pretty sure ben’s advice to any company in that situation would be “let them sue - they’re bluffing” and “no, you dont need to spend more money on updated pricing, better legal understanding, and any other consumer facing aspects - no one really cares about it - they’re consumers, not legal experts like us business geniuses eh? Let them sue”


Somewhat more useful advice:

Always ask for assistance and help, never ever ever demand any specific action of anyone. Provide concise and simple details on an issue, but let them decide how to proceed.
Never over exaggerate a situation. Always provide any details or clarifications reasonably requested.
Be prepared for lack of legal knowledge in CS and to simply accept an apology over financial remedy. At worst, politely request to clarify details with a manager / head office.
Only make suggestions once a good rapport is built up, preferably once the original complaint is resolved, and to someone with the ability to make a change. Whilst you think you know how to do their job better than they do, no one takes advice from strangers.


If he ‘aspires to great humility’ and this is what he achieves he might want to investigate the possibility of seeking expert assistance, if available.

This little fiasco is to ‘aspiring to great humility’ what illiteracy in your primary spoken language is to ‘aspiring to deathless prose’.


This man is no angel. He isn’t a tireless defender of consumer rights. He’s a creep who preys on small businesses and who is now doing the forced-apology thing after embarrassing his employer, Harvard.