Attorney Benjamin Edelman Internet Sheriff on ill-advised crusade
The level of stupidity that service industry workers and owners encounter interacting with the public is astonishing. Last week a Boston restaurant owner and food truck operator shared the story about a woman who called and was irate because her nephew didnt get the exact hamburger he wanted. Her nephew and his friend only paid $7.50 for two burgers (one was comped because of a communication error), but the woman demanded a $30 refund. I know, fuzzy math. He ended up sending her a $10 gift card to keep the peace. It never ends.
This one fromHilary SargentatBoston.comis tough to beat. Im sharing it to add to the justified public shaming that is happening as I type, and to ensure that as many restaurant industry workers as possible know whatBenjamin Edelmanlooks like. Adjust your reservation black lists accordingly.
Ive reached out to Benjamin and the dean of the Harvard Business School (where he purportedlyteaches negotiations) for comment.
FromBens website: Ben holds a Ph.D. from theDepartment of EconomicsatHarvard University, a J.D. from theHarvard Law School, an A.M. inStatisticsfrom theHarvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and an A.B. in Economics fromHarvard College(summa cum laude). He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.
Not a whole lot of common sense or street smarts from a guy with so many degrees
Ben Edelman (left) and Ran Duan (right)
By Hilary Sargent, Boston.com Staff | 12.09.14 | 3:28 PM
Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food fromSichuan Gardens Brookline Village location.
Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.
If youve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, youre about to find out.(Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)
Surprised yet? We were, too.
In addition to teaching at HBS, Edelman also operates a consulting practice where he advises clients like Microsoft, the NFL, the New York Times, and Universal Music on preventing and detecting online fraud (especially advertising fraud). (Thats fromEdelmans own website, which it seems safe to presume is always kept up to date.)
He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Ran Duan moved to the U.S. from China when he was 3-years-old. His father had hoped to support the family with a career as an opera singer, but when that didnt pan out, Duan says like all Chinese families we decided to open up a restaurant.
Sichuan Garden opened its doors in Brookline in the early 1990s. A second location followed in Woburn.
Despite the restaurants 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.
Screenshot of Sichuan Gardens website as of December 9.
I personally respond to every complaint and try to handle every situation personally, said Duan, who was profiled byBoston Magazinein June and featured in GQ Magazine last month asAmericas 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 isnt 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 toMassachusetts General Law, Section XV, Chapter 93A, Section 9. (Translation: If you didnt pass the Massachusetts bar, but still feel as though you must do SOMETHING, then just gather all the receipts youve 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 arent likely to exceed the few dollars youre seeking, and voila?)
As for Edelman, he alerted town officials in Brookline about the matter, but told Boston.com he doesnt 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.
The epitome of ""white priviledge"" if I"ve ever seen it...