Harvard Professor Fights Chinese Restaurant Over $4

A Harvard Business School instructor is battling a Chinese restaurant for overcharging him $4 on a takeout order.

The Boston Globe reports that associate professor Benjamin Edelman recently complained to the Sichuan Garden after the Brookline, Massachusetts restaurant charged him $1 more on each of the four items he ordered.

Edelman - who consults for corporations like AOL, Microsoft, the NFL, Wells Fargo and the New York Times on "preventing and detecting online fraud," according to his website - had expected to pay $53.35, based on prices listed online. He had ordered shredded chicken with spicy garlic sauce, sautéed prawns with roasted chili and peanut, stir-fried chicken with spicy capsicum, and braised fish filets and Napa cabbage with roasted chili, according to a lengthy email exchange posted on

In response, a restaurant manager acknowledged the website prices were out of date and promised to update them soon.

But Edelman accused the restaurant of systematically overcharging customers and demanded a $12 refund, arguing that he's eligible for triple damages under the state's consumer protection statute.

Edelman, a Brookline resident, said he also contacted local officials to demand the restaurant compensate all other customers who might have been affected.

Edelman told the Globe that town officials have so far declined to intervene. The restaurant, though, has agreed to refund Edelman half the cost of his total bill, he said.

Meanwhile, Harvard Business School students have launched an online campaign to "flip the script" after Edelman's spat with the restaurant went viral and generated "negative stereotypes" about Harvard and its elite business school, according to

The students are asking donors to give $4 to the Greater Boston Food Bank - the amount Edelman was apparently overcharged. As of Wednesday afternoon, the campaign had raised over $900.

This article was originally published on December 10, 2014.


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