A Harvard Business professor is apologizing for attempting to wrap the long arm of the law around a Boston mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant that he claimed overcharged him $4 on a $57.35 take-out order.

Ben Edelman, a Harvard professor who has a law degree and Ph.D. in economics, initiated an email exchange with Ran Duan, son of the founders who own a restaurant called Sichuan Garden. Edelman claimed he was overcharged $4, that the dishes were $1 more than advertised on the restaurant's website. During his email rant Edelman threatened to sue and ensure the restaurant would be penalized for not following specific consumer pricing rules.

Soon after his heated and inflammatory email exchange went viral Edelman decided to apologize and said he intends to make a personal apology to the restaurant owners.

"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," states Edelman. "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."

While Edelman's tone has softened, his message appears unchanged. The professor elaborated on his feeling in an interview with Poets and Quants.

"Should small businesses get a free pass," asks Edelman. "I wonder if that really makes sense. The restaurant at issue knew the website prices had been 'out of date for quite some time.' At what point should they do something about it?"

If the restaurant was aware its prices were out of date, then it knowingly led people into buying goods and services that cost more than advertised. Problems like these can go unnoticed and can pile up into large amounts, reasons Edelman.

"We all rely on trust in our daily lives -- that when sales tax is added, it actually applies and equals the specified amount; that the meter in a taxi shows the correct amount provided by law and measures the actual distance; that when you order take-out, the price you see online matches the amount you pay in the restaurant," says Edelman.

In his initial email to the restaurant, Edelman asked for clarification on four menu items being $1 more than advertised online. Duan replied with the following statement:

"I apologize about the [confusion]. Our website's prices have been out of date for quite some time. I will make sure to update it. If you would like, I can email an updated menu."

Then things started to get spicy after Duan admitted that he was aware the the online prices had been outdated for a while. Edelman then demanded the site be taken offline until the prices were updated and demanded a refund that was three times the amount of the original charge, citing Massachusetts' consumer protection statute.

Despite being offered a refund of $4 and then $12, Edelman seemed intent on prosecuting the restaurant on behalf of all the customers that may have overcharged. The exchanges finally came to a standstill with Edelman set on having his entire order halved and Duan awaiting the authorities the Harvard professor claimed to have contacted.

The full email exchange is available at Boston.com and can be viewed here.

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