Don't mess with a professor when it comes to a takeaway bill error

Ran Duan manages the bar at the Sichuan Garden restaurant in Boston which was founded in the 1990s by his parents.

One of his recent customers was Ben Edelman, an associate professor at the nearby Harvard Business School, who is also a trained attorney whose practice represents clients like AOL, Microsoft, the NFL, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Upon ordering what sounded like a sumptuous takeaway of shredded chicken with spicy garlic sauce, sauteed prawns with roasted chilli and peanut, stir fried chicken with spicy capsicum and braised fish filets, Edelman was affronted to discover he had been over charged on his $53.35 bill by an astonishing, staggering, eye-watering $4 (£2.54).

Edelman emailed the restaurant to enquire what had happened and to ask for a refund - their whole subsequent exchange has since been published by

Duan explained that the prices had risen quite some time ago but the menu on the website had not been updated. In fact Edelman had been charged the same price as everyone else, and he promised to update the website and send Edelman the new menu.

Edelman was displeased with this response however and, citing Massachusetts law and calling it a "serious violation", demanded that Duan offer him a refund of three times the value that he was over charged - i.e. $12.

I urge you to cease this practice immediately. If you don't know how to update your web site, you could remove the web site altogether.

  • Ben Edelman
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