View Full Version : Warning: don't overcharge a Harvard law professor $4 or you wil hear about it!

10th Dec 2014, 17:39
A Harvard professor is at war with Chinese restaurant over $4 extra charge on his takeout | National Post (http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/12/10/a-harvard-professor-is-at-war-with-chinese-restaurant-over-4-extra-charge-on-his-takeout/)

10th Dec 2014, 17:43
I love it, I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only to take up these things (although I have to say that I'd probably have let this one go).

10th Dec 2014, 17:46
Obviously a progressive, so-called liberal Democrat.

Oh, the professor, not the restaurant owner. :p

10th Dec 2014, 17:51
I think it was Confucius ,wot said "never upset the people who are cooking your grub", four bucks is not worth having your next meal taste like ass :)

10th Dec 2014, 17:58
It's not a 'war' if one guy is doing all the kicking and the other guy is doing nothing but apologise and offer to correct the error.

Harvard Law - home of the Arrogant @sshole.

10th Dec 2014, 17:58
When we were overcharged by the local Indian 'carry-out' we resolved the situation by no longer giving them our business.

That was twenty years ago and we've never been back - and don't intend to.

There are alternatives, even in our small settlement.

10th Dec 2014, 18:01
Dear Mr. Edelman,

Ah so'. Thank you very much for your kind email saying how much you enjoyed the food. We are sorry for the $4 overcharge. Please accept our sincere apologies.

But if you insist on 3 times the $4 error in compensation, beware. Or the next time you order take out, we may put in 30 times the amount of other ingredients not fully described by the menu item "chicken chow mein". Or the cook may just add some extra natural sauce for your culinary pleasure.

PS. I just work here. The current owner is Mr. Giovanni Bagarella, who recently moved here from Corleone in Sicilia. His English improves daily. At least he appears to be able to make himself understood.

Yours sincerely,
Ran Duan
Ristorante Sichuan Garden.

10th Dec 2014, 18:26
A tempest in a ... rice pot!

10th Dec 2014, 18:27
When we were overcharged by the local Indian 'carry-out' we resolved the situation by no longer giving them our business.

That was twenty years ago and we've never been back - and don't intend to.

There are alternatives, even in our small settlement.

10th Dec 2014, 19:14
Twenty years ago!? Is the person who over-charged you still working there? Is it under the same management? Me thinks you protest too much!

If you are trolling, you've reeled me in...

10th Dec 2014, 19:19
Post number 6 and post number 9 ........ perhaps the effect of too much monosodiumglutimate ?

10th Dec 2014, 20:11
The professor took it too far but we could do with some more people with his approach to deal with restaurants here who add a service charge to the bill and then hand you a credit card machine with the total price already entered and the next stage is to add a gratuity before completing the transaction.
They work on the basis that customers will assume that service has not been included and add it. Unless people are familiar with the trick, or always check every item on the bill, it usually works.

The other dubious restaurant practice is to produce a bill with what they describe as a "Discretionary service charge" added. I prefer to give waiters cash to ensure they actually get what I give them, not what's left after the restaurant has taken a cut.

10th Dec 2014, 20:39
Twenty years ago!? Is the person who over-charged you still working there? Is it under the same management? Me thinks you protest too much!It is, indeed, run by the same person who established the business in 1989.
He is the literate one with all the rest merely transient 'servants', and he operates all the 'front-of-house' activities.

Other residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with his 'methods' and choose to order their takeaways from the other Indian restaurant in the village or even from the nearby town.

We have used the other restaurant in the village for sit-down meals - it is by far and away superior - it operates a bespoke service for customers arriving by train with reserved seats served and served wine by a waiter dressed in 'costume' whilst they read the menu and their order is telephoned ahead.

The first one cannot hold a candle to the latter. Chalk and cheese!

10th Dec 2014, 20:53
Still in business after 25 years?
I guess he must be doing something right.

Have the villagers told him they'd prefer him to dress in 'costume'?

10th Dec 2014, 21:07
The two establishments are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
The first is small and his only outlet, whilst the second has developed the theme and has opened two other branches (which have excellent reputations) - one in another station, the other in the nearby town centre.

Likewise we have two Chinese outlets - one in a back street behind the vets (!) with the other in a central location. Again, chalk and cheese.

11th Dec 2014, 07:52
I am probably not as much of a bulldog as the Harvard professor, but I also object to these ripoffs.

I have a friend who collects flags and every birthday and Christmas I've been getting him one. This year I decided to get three. Shipping was within the UK. Here's the story :

Thank you for shopping with us. Your order information follows.

Order Number: 1273
Order Date: Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Country: United Kingdom
Product Total: 14.97

Product tax :3.00

Shipping and Handling Fee : 5.97
Shipping tax : 1.19

Coupon Discount: - 4.49

Order total: 20.64

First Class Post UK (upto 1.2kg)

Thank you for your patronage.Dear Sirs

Thank you for the flags which arrived safely.

I wish to query something.

You charged me 7.16 in total for postage, showing as 5.97 shipping and handling, and 1.19 shipping tax.

The actual postage was 1.24. I appreciate that on top of this is the actual cost of the packaging and handling, but I consider the charge to be excessive.

Further, I have never heard of a 'shipping tax' on a domestic parcel of this nature (I could of course simply not know about it), and I require an explanation.

Thank you for the good and prompt service, but I really think this charge is unreasonable.

Best regards

CPT Hi xxxxxxx

Thanks for your email.

Shipping Tax is another term for VAT (I think our website perhaps is a US based package so may use American terminology).

Each item sold on our website with regards to postage, packaging and handling is 1.99 per item (first class post +VAT).
You ordered 3 items - 1.99 x 3 = 5.97 + VAT @ 20% = 7.16.

I hope you enjoy your flags.

Kind Regards,


Thank you for your response.

I am more than capable of doing the mathematics and you are missing the point entirely.

P&P on one item of 1.99 to cover your base costs on P&P is fair.
To triple that when the real costs do not increase in the same proportion is unjustifiable profiteering.
I would also question the legality of sending out an invoice that states 'shipping tax' when there is no such thing.

I do not want a refund and this is not a request for one. I will make a simple choice which will be in future to use another supplier who does not take advantage of customers.


11th Dec 2014, 07:55
Cape, are you entering into a relationahip with this supplier? Ending every message with a row of kisses is a bit revealing! ;)

11th Dec 2014, 08:01
Dear Magnus

Kisses removed!



11th Dec 2014, 08:48
Ah, but it's all archived for future purposes! :ok:

11th Dec 2014, 09:09
Cape, I may be being dense here, but it seems your supplier has charged VAT on VAT.

"Each item sold on our website with regards to postage, packaging and handling is 1.99 per item (first class post +VAT).
You ordered 3 items - 1.99 x 3 = 5.97 + VAT @ 20% = 7.16."

So that's 1.99 (first class post +VAT) x 3 = 5.97 + VAT @ 20% = 7.16.

I know it's only small beer in this case, but HMRC may take a dim view of that as a business practice across lots of orders. As one large supplier says, "Every little helps"

cockney steve
11th Dec 2014, 09:50
*SIGH* bloody illiterates today!
There's a lot of difference between 1.99 + VAT
and 1.99,+vat

But, there again , some would distinguish the difference as

there again, some of us are just silly old Pedants who get hung up on precise and unambiguous communications.

11th Dec 2014, 11:59
He apologised:

"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," Edelman wrote. "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."

On Twitter, Edelman had been raked over the coals, with some accusing him of living up to the worst stereotypes about lawyers and Harvard minds.

Harvard professor sorry for fighting restaurant over $4 - CNN.com (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/10/living/harvard-business-professor-chinese-takeout/index.html?hpt=hp_c5)

11th Dec 2014, 12:09
Cooks are very emotional people who take their "art" seriously and take criticism badly. Missus has a cousin who owns a restaurant in Ipoh. He has previously worked as a chef in five star hotels around the world, for decades. He strongly advises to never, ever send food back to the kitchen. If you have an issue with the food, leave it, pay the bill, tip the waiter (its not his fault) and leave.

11th Dec 2014, 12:16
Here we see the difference between knowledge and "smarts."

I happen to know that the tomato is a fruit, knowledge at work! My smarts, however, tell me not to use tomatoes in my fruit salad.

This Harvard professor knew all kinds of law (except for seeming to not know the relevant statute) that he could use to frighten some little guy running a Chinese take-away service. That's knowledge!

Smarts should have told him how it would look for a Harvard professor to be beating on a little guy for $4. No, $4 times three because the Harvard professor doesn't know his law!

11th Dec 2014, 12:19
Not a chance. If a cook or even a Chef has screwed up a simple cooking task and had the temerity to deliver it to me unfit for my purpose - he's damn well going to know about it. It's not rocket surgery!

Bloody prima donnas some of them.

Wasn't there an idiot NY lawyer who sued a dry cleaner for a million when they made a cleaning mistake. He had to tuck tail in front of the judge quite rapidly, IIRC.

11th Dec 2014, 12:29
I think this is not "any" Harvard professor. He's the guy that spotted a US airline was adding random charges to tickets and calling them "taxes". Lots of cash involved there.

11th Dec 2014, 12:32
This exchange between a lawyer and a football club is classic :


Boudreaux Bob
11th Dec 2014, 12:51
Why would the Cook not want to produce a satisfactory product?

If I buy a Watch and it doesn't function upon delivery....I should pay for it, Tip the clerk, then walk out the door of the store leaving the watch on the counter?

If the Chow is bad....the Chow is bad and One does not have any obligation to pay for it.

Most places I dine, from lowly BBQ joints to the finer Restaurants in town, if the meal is bad they all try to make it right and are concerned if they have not put out a good meal for the customer.

Ancient Observer
11th Dec 2014, 12:58
Louisiana dining.

Other than the usual hotel food, I have only dined twice in Louisiana. Once involved a 45 minute coach ride from Baton Rouge, down what seemed to be small roads, and entry in to a shed which had newspapers instead of table cloths. Food was served from dustbins.

The second one was in another shed-like place. Right next to the dam which would appear to keep the river in place, and which ruins the view of the river.

In both cases, the food was exceptional. I thought - If they can do exceptional food in wooden sheds, I wonder what the food is like in proper restaurants?

11th Dec 2014, 13:03
Harvard Law - home of the Arrogant @sshole.

The Libs wanted us to elect one as PM awhile back.

11th Dec 2014, 13:09
Whilst working in Southern Germany, we visited a small Inn - and had a superb meal.
The following time it was suggested that we should return to the same Inn as the food had been so good - but I suggested that we should try a different place to see whether their food was as good.

This resulted in us visiting many different Inns - all of which provided excellent food at reasonable cost.

We never did find any 'bad' ones.

11th Dec 2014, 13:45
I too have never had a bad meal in Germany, nor in Poland, Hungary or the Netherlands, all of which are fantastic countries for dining out.

Italy and France go from one extreme to the other, sometimes horrendously bad food, often with service to match in France, whereas in Italy the service is usually good but the quality of the food can be very variable.

I'm not shy to complain when appropriate, and I always make it clear that it's not about 'money back' it's about expectations. After a particularly horrible meal in a restaurant in Derby, and subsequent complaint, they offered me the money back and I got them to write out a cheque to one of my preferred charities.

wings folded
11th Dec 2014, 13:50
Seeking triple damages smacks of the good law professor taking the already absurd RICO (look it up, I can't be naffed to explain it) doctrine to even more absurd dimensions.

We have a term for him in my local dialect. It is not flattering.

11th Dec 2014, 14:09
Harvard Law - home of the Arrogant @sshole. It appears that this Fox 3 hit the target squarely. One shot, one kill. :ok:

11th Dec 2014, 16:05
I had an absolutely lousy meal in Mainz once. The service was crap, the waiter was obviously unpopular with the other staff so they screwed up his orders and the orders got to the back of the queue, it took him 45 minutes after seating us to get round to taking orders, and the first course didn't arrive until 90 minutes after getting seated - and wasn't very good. I was OK the next day, but half the other guys were busy consuming Immodium. An Italian restaurant in the old part of Mainz.

The waiter got no tip and was not told in no uncertain terms why....

11th Dec 2014, 19:43
It's not rocket surgery!Correct ! But it is a mixed metaphor :p