Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman apologized over his action of threatening legal action against a Chinese restaurant in Boston for overcharging $4 of Chinese food. Edelman's threats were picked up first by Boston.com, which quickly spread to several major media outlets that prompted Edelman to retract his actions.
Edelman released a statement via Twitter showing his remorse and has reached out to Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden to make a formal apology:
Many people have seen my emails with Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden restaurant in Brookline.
Having reflected on my interaction with Ran, including what I said and how I said it, it's clear that I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future.
I have reached out to Ran and will apologize to him personally as well.
Ben Edelman, who teaches in the Negotiation, Organization and Markets Division of Harvard Business School, ordered what he believed was $53.35 worth of food from Sichuan Garden's Brookline Village site, but was outraged to discover, when presented with the bill, that he had been charged an extra $4.
The professor immediately sent off a harsh email to Ran Duan, the manager of The Baldwin Bar inside the restaurant founded by his parents. In the letter, Edelman detailed the notes he took about his order, listing every item, followed by the expected versus the charged amount.
In a response letter, Mr. Duan apologized for the incident and explained that the website prices were not accurate. He also offered to send Edelman an updated menu list.
While Edelman thanked Duan for the explanation, he went on to threat legal action for the incident, citing the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute.
Sichuan Garden released the following statement to Boston.com:
We have been overwhelmed with the response and support that has flooded our way. It means the world to know that there are still good people in this world. We have been contacted by people from California all the way to Australia offering kind words and support. I have been attempting to keep up with writing back personally and thanking each and every one of you. We have been offered donations, free services, including website services and legal advice, which I kindly denied.
I just want to make clear that we are not a business in financial distress. We have been blessed with the support of our amazing community and hospitality family that has understood the value of a hard working family. Your support and kind words are more then enough.
I have received overwhelming support from Harvard graduates and the student body. I believe that one man's actions should not be the burden of another. I just want to apologize to Harvard for all the negative association they have been linked with this ordeal. I also believe that something good can come out of all this situation.
I support Jon Staff and will contribute to the Greater Boston Food Bank. I appreciate all the support and increase in business we have received but you need to realize we are just one of thousands of small establishments that need your support. I ask you to not just support us but your neighborhood establishments also, your local take-out restaurant, a bodega/market down the street. If we stick together and support our local community we will grow together as a community.
I kindly ask all media inquiries to respect our customers and our business hours. My number one priority is to our guests and the experience they receive at our establishments.
Ran Duan, on behalf of Sichuan Garden