July Ai reckons Harvard professor Ben Edelman broke a fundamental law when he sued a restaurant for a $4 overcharge – the law of not being an idiot!


How much time are you willing to waste to fight a $4 overcharge for a purchase?

I read somewhere that it’s not worth Bill Gates the one second of his time to bend over and pick up a $100 bill.

We mere mortals aren’t as well-off as Bill, but I am guessing if you at least earn an award wage of $20 an hour, you wouldn’t waste more time than the 12 minutes it takes you to earn the $4, because of the diminishing returns factor. Let’s face it, we all think like capitalists, even if we don’t want to. Rational thought would look at the situation and determine that if the reward falls short of the investment, the sensible thing to do would be to not pursue the action.

Here is a story about Harvard  associate professor Ben Edelman, who went to ridiculous lengths to be reimbursed after a case of mistaken advertising. The small business from which he ordered Chinese take-away hadn’t updated their menu pricing on their website to reflect the new prices – which is understandable because, you know, preparing delicious food (Ben Edelman himself admitted “it was delicious”) should take priority.

Ben Edelman demanded to be compensated $12 for the error and part of his argument was that there could be grounds for a class action. In one of his many emails to the restaurant he writes:

“To wit, your restaurant overcharged all customers who viewed your website and placed a telephone order.”

Ben Edelman is a business professor, so I guess it must be the principle of the matter right? Someone who was busy working hard to create delicious food broke the law of forgetting to update their website. This cannot stand!

I would argue that this professor broke TBS’s law – the law of not being an idiot!


(Ed’s note – Ben Edelman has since apologised to the restaurant!)

Share via