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Harvard Professor had a meltdown over a $4 food overcharge.

JamesM

TRIBE Member

JamesM

TRIBE Member
Edelman is "an astonishing scholar of the Internet," said Alvin Roth, a Nobel-prize winning economist, who was a mentor and colleague at Harvard Business School. "It's the Wild West out there, and Ben is the sheriff."

Benjamin G Edelman, a 33-year-old associate professor, mixes scholarship, lucrative consulting and a digital version of the 1960s-style activism of his family, including his aunt, Marian Wright Edelman, the civil-rights and children's advocate. While he ferrets out misdeeds on the Internet, his multiple roles have put his own work under scrutiny.

"The Internet is what we make of it," said Edelman, who arrived at his Ivy League office in jeans and sneakers this week after commuting by bicycle through Boston's snowy streets. "We can shape it through diligence, by exposing the folks who are making it less good than it ought to be, like the neighborhood watch, or the busybody neighbour who yells at you when you throw your cigarette butt on the street."

Paid crusades

Unlike bloggers who have long formed a volunteer police force on the Internet, Edelman embarks on paid crusades that raise questions about whether he can remain objective in his academic roles as scholar and teacher.

In a move that elevated his profile in the stock market and prompted a dispute about his financial disclosures, he published a blog on Jan. 28 that accused Internet video and advertising purveyor Blinkx Plc of using hidden software to inflate traffic counts.

His posting caused Blinkx shares to fall the most in the company's history. Blinkx responded to Edelman's broadside with a statement saying the company "strongly refutes" his assertions and conclusions. Harvard pressed Edelman to say more about his clients, prompting him to disclose that they included two US investors.

Their names still aren't known. While taking on some giants, such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., Edelman has worked for others, including Microsoft Corp. Google has said that he's biased and hasn't been forthright enough in disclosing that he's a paid consultant to Microsoft.

FTC crackdown

Edelman earns more from his outside activities than from his salary as a professor, which isn't unusual among business school faculty, he said. His work has influenced the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General's Office, among other regulators, in their crackdown on companies.

"He's part academic and part cyber sleuth," said Ken Dreifach, former chief of the Internet bureau of the New York Attorney General's Office, whose prosecutors tracked Edelman's blog posts as they filed cases against companies using malicious software.

A Edelman is expected to come up for tenure, academia's guarantee of job security, at the end of 2015. While his credentials include a law degree and economics doctorate, both from Harvard, his attacks on companies are unusual at the business school, an institution better known for case studies celebrating successes.

Critical letter

When he was considered for promotion to associate professor from assistant a few years ago, Edelman said an outside reviewer contacted by the school wrote a critical letter: "Ben seems not to like businesses. I thought this was a business school." He was promoted anyway.

Edelman's outside consulting work has been encouraged by Harvard and is helping make the Internet a better place, said Brian Kenny, Harvard Business School's chief marketing and communications officer. Since his Blinkx post, entitled "The Darker Side of Blinkx," the shares are down 39 per cent.


After its initial statement reacting on Jan. 30, the company has declined to comment. Edelman initially wrote that he prepared the research for an unnamed client. Harvard Business School said that disclosure wasn't enough under its conflict-ofinterest rules, which require professors to disclose paid and unpaid outside activities related to work available to the public.

Harvard asked Edelman to say more. In his enhanced disclosure, Edelman said last week he was paid by two US investors that jointly hired him. He didn't name them, say how much he was paid or whether they were betting against, or shorting, the stock. In interviews, Edelman said his contract prohibited him from disclosing that information.

Harvard is satisfied with his revised disclosure, Kenny said. In a two-hour interview at his Harvard Business School office, Edelman acknowledged that his earlier disclosure was insufficient but said he has now revealed enough. The school's requirement for public disclosure of outside activities makes an exception for professors who have signed confidentiality agreements, he said. They should "provide as much information as permissible," according to the policy.

"I'm not prepared to push all the way," Edelman said. Investors "have to disclose how many shares they own, what position they have, what colour are their socks and underwear. It's a bridge too far for me. I view it as material they can keep confidential."
Harvard Professor Benjamin G Edelman ferrets out misdeeds on the internet - Economic Times
 

Polymorph

TRIBE Member
Well, on one hand, there are consumer protection laws in place, in Quebec, and I think in Ontario it's the same..

-if a grocery store advertises a sale price, either in a flyer or on the shelf, and the item runs through the cash at a higher/full price, the customer is entitled to a)get this item for free, if under 10$, or b) if over 10$, the customer gets 10$ knocked off the bill.
- such price discrepancies have happened with me on several occasions, and a couple times, especially at major grocery chains, I just point at the big sign on the wall, and get my coffee or chorizo for free. But other times, I'm just, eh whatever, let it go, life is too short.

But such consumer protection laws exist because, yes, it can be a classic retailer scam. Advertise a sale price, then run the item through at full price, hoping the consumer don't notice.

ok, that being said, this Harvard guy has clearly got no sense of Optics. I mean, with all the time invested into his email exchanges, I mean, what? Isn't he supposed to be making 200$ a hour? What the hell is 4$ worth his time and obsession? And maybe the restaurant was just value adding the tip into it - (they could've said just that).

Anyways, Harvard guy is clearly an infantile little dick, and I hope he just lost a shit-ton of credibility over teaching *negotiation* courses while obsessing over seriously petty change.

God I can't stand people like that.

eh
 

DJ Vuvu Zela

TRIBE Member
the Prof. is right. if there isn't a punitive penalty what motivation would the restaurant have to correct the menu? if most people won't notice (or care) about the overcharge, and for those who do they can only expect their money back then the restaurant is getting off scot-free (and probably making money off their own error.)

there is certainly a point to made about investing more time then the $12 refund deserves, but if someone believes they're in the right then they're probably doing this out of principle rather than money.
 
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JamesM

TRIBE Member
Because he ain't cool yo. It's like attacking the Pizza Pizza delivery guy because his ATM machine wouldn't work. Or the machine at the pub had an automatic gratuity, Then call the government.

Meanwhile, all these yahoo's are the ones creating sub prime mortage fraud, and putting millions of people out of their houses. Then crying to the Government again for a bailout.

You'd expect a bit more tact at least, if your going to royally go after a mom and pop shop.
 
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WestsideWax

TRIBE Promoter
It's like attacking the Pizza Pizza delivery guy because his ATM machine wouldn't work.
No, it isn't, not in the least.

The rest of what you wrote is utter nonsense as well. Take out "Harvard Professor" and insert "average Joe/Jane who happens to have a well-rounded understanding of business practices and law" - does that make it easier for you to digest?

It's already been pointed out that the restaurant is in the wrong. They've been fraudulently overcharging customers. You can see that, can't you?

To use your analogy, it's actually like the Pizza Pizza delivery guy shows up at your place and charges you $2 more than the order you phoned in, hoping that you won't notice. They proceed to do this to every customer until someone calls them on it.

Clear, now?
 
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JamesM

TRIBE Member
Sure, some guy didn't update his website for a dollar, and upset the wrong guy. Feels wrath. Dudes some rich kid turned website police. Cool story bro. I'll teach my Harvard students to look out for a campy website, and call the government immediately!

Harvard represent!
 
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JamesM

TRIBE Member
Bill Gates Harvard drop out makes Microsoft. Everyone else makes sub prime mortgages, and attacks the Sichuan shop.
 

WestsideWax

TRIBE Promoter
So if I get this straight...you're o.k. with the notion of being ripped off, and having someone (initially) dismiss your complaint when you finally do speak up?
 
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wickedken

TRIBE Member
Braised Fish Filets & Napa Cabbage with Roasted Chilli +1
Stir Fried Chicken with Spicy Capsicum +1
Sauteed Prawns with Roasted Chili and Peanuts -1
Shredded Chicken with Spicy Garlic Sauce +0

Decent enough taste for a professor.
 

WestsideWax

TRIBE Promoter
Great that he took the high road (and upon reading it through, he was a tad overhanded), but the restaurant is still in the wrong.

I was trying to figure out why I vibed with this piece so much, then I remembered. When The One That Got Away opened their second location on Bloor West, I called in a pick up order, using the menu on their website. I biked down, paid, and when I got the order home, realised I'd been charged $2 more than what was listed on the website. The staffer I spoke to told me that it was because "those prices are for the King St. location". I asked for a manager to call me back. They did, I explained the situation to them, and not only did they refund me the difference, they offered a free entrée on our next order. When my wife went to pick up that order, they gave us both entrées at no charge.
 
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Polymorph

TRIBE Member
Upon reflection, the Harvard guy may have been a bit too zealous (to the point of coming across as petty and anal), but in fact is he wasn't in the wrong. This is a very typical scam. Aka Overcharge each customer by a couple dollars, hoping they won't notice. If you do the math that's likely an extra 100$ in fraudulent fees each day (or more).

This is why there are (at least in Quebec), very clear *price guarantee consumer protection* laws in place, which legally states that if the price of an item is higher/or full price, over the advertised (sale) item, the consumer gets this item for free (if under 10$), or gets 10$ deducted from their bill (if the item in question is over 10$). Most major retail grocers have this sign posted directly over the cash register. (They have no choice, it's the Law).

So my impression is that what we have here is a *mom&pop* restaurant trying to fly under the radar of these laws, and indiscriminately adding 2$ here, a 1$ here, to the actual bill. And they just got called out and *shamed*.

And while it's true that Lawyers and Financial accountants are the worst for value-adding *hidden fees*, the annoyance remains the same.

It's like the way some *foreign* restos like to spot Tourists (or students), and charge them extra for all sorts of things, presuming they're too ignorant of local laws/taxes to notice (oh, and that they're rich). It's still an annoyance, and when an establishment gets called out for this practice, it's a good thing imo.

whew
 

JamesM

TRIBE Member
Amazing. He did this before!

On December 9, Boston.com published the exchange of emails between Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman and Sichuan Garden, a restaurant in Brookline. The Internet reacted. On Wednesday afternoon, Edelman released a brief statement apologizing for his actions .

Just before that apology was released, Boston.com received a tip from a “former manager” of a “Back Bay sushi restaurant,” who stated that he had read the Edelman email exchange published on this site, and that when “it sounded familiar” he realized he had seen a similar email exchange several years prior.

The restaurant manager declined to give his name or the name of the restaurant, but described both emails and phone calls with Ben Edelman over a dispute related to the use of a Groupon promotion.

We were then sent copies of several emails exchanged in August 2010 between Ben Edelman and Osushi Restaurant management.

Boston.com confirmed the authenticity of these emails with Tim Panagopoulos, one of three partners who owned and operated Osushi, which has since closed.




there-more-edelman-did-this-before-and-worse
 

JamesM

TRIBE Member
To use your analogy, it's actually like the Pizza Pizza delivery guy shows up at your place and charges you $2 more than the order you phoned in, hoping that you won't notice. They proceed to do this to every customer until someone calls them on it.

Clear, now?
Ya, fair enough. But it could've been simply, the website wasn't updated. So.
 
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