When a Chinese restaurant in the US overcharged a man by $4 for his take-away, they didn’t realise they had picked the wrong guy to slightly inconvenience.
Ben Edelman is a lawyer, Harvard business professor and (very unluckily for the Chinese restaurant), also runs a consulting practice on preventing and detecting online advertising fraud.
So, when Edelman realised that the price that had been charged to his credit card was $4 more than the price that had been advertised on the Sichuan Garden restaurant website, he went OFF. Like, ‘I’M FURIOUS AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE’ off.
The email exchange between Edelman and Sichuan Garden’s owner, Ran Duan, is addictive reading. Boston.com broke the story and have screenshots of the emails, and we’ve got some of the more bizarre parts of the exchange here.
So who’s in the right here? It seems like Duan is genuinely sorry that Edelman got overcharged, but he also doesn’t seem to care that his website is advertising misleading prices. Edelman, on the other hand, is going slightly overboard with the talk of legal action, considering it’s only $4.
Take a look and decide for yourself:
First Edelman sends a simple complaint saying he’s been overcharged by $4. Duan replies with this:
“I apologize about the confusing. Our website prices has been out of date for quite some time. I will make sure to update it, if you like I will email you a updated menu.”
That clearly pisses Edelman off. He starts the law-talk immediately:
“Under Massachusetts law it turns out to be a serious violation to advertise one price and charge a different price. I urge you to cease this practice immediately. If you don’t know how to update your website, you could remove the website altogether until you are able to correct the error.”
“In the interim, I suggest that Sichuan Garden refund me three times the amount of the overcharge. The tripling reflects the approach provided under Massachusetts consumer protection statute, MGL 93a, wherein consumers broadly receive triple damages for intentional violations. Please refund $12 to my credit card. Or you could mail a cheque for $12 to my home.”
Duan (in a stroke of passive aggressive genius) stays very civil, but only offers a $3 refund. This infuriates Edelman, since the original overcharge was actually $4, and he was no doubt hoping all his legal talk in the previous email would scare the crap out of Duan.