Reputation Management and Chinese Food

By | December 12, 2014

For small businesses (actually all businesses) this is a story about reputation and how quickly, given the internet and anger, a customer can potentially try to tarnish yours!

“Makin’ mistakes ain’t a crime, you know. What’s the use of having a reputation if you can’t ruin it every now and then?” 
― Simone Elkeles

Mistakes are one thing but, having cut my teeth on Wall Street, the lessons that I grew up knowing and living by were quickly reinforced on the trading floor…Your word is your bond and you have only one reputation so take good care of it!

A $4 overcharge for an order at a Chinese restaurant

For those of us running a small business, regardless of the industry, this story about a Harvard Professor, a Chinese restaurant and an apparent $4 overcharge on an order provides some insight into just how quickly a reputation can be tarnished (or potentially be tarnished).

In actuality, however, depending on just how egregious and/or deliberate the mistake was on the part of the business the hit to reputations can impact both the complainer as well as the target of the complaint.

But finally, if the episode is viewed by the public as a Goliath unfairly attacking a David, it can actually be a boon to the business although I wouldn’t manage toward that actually being the case!

From Boston the players in this story are Harvard Professor Ben Edelman and Ran Duan who manages The Baldwin Bar.


‘Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit.

Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location of Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant founded by his parents.

Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food fromSichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location.

Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out.

(Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)…’ Read the rest of the article here.

Note: As a response to the hit on its own reputation, Harvard Business School students fought back with the article ‘Harvard Business School Students: Ben Edelman Is Not Us‘!


Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.

HAS is a provider of title insurance in New York State for residential and commercial real estate transactions specializing in the areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester.

For anyone either buying a property or refinancing, remember that although your attorney will likely recommend a title insurance provider, you always have the right to choose your own title company (click here to learn more)!

If you have any questions you can reach Michael by email at

2 thoughts on “Reputation Management and Chinese Food

  1. TheBigHenry


    I grew up in a Jewish family in Hicksville, Long Island, New York. I have a PhD in Nuclear Physics from Columbia University. I have lived in New York, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, and in California. And I am personally acquainted with the types of character flaws that highly educated and successful-career individuals are inclined to exhibit (myself very much included).

    But this guy from Harvard is something else entirely.

    How do you spell “schmuck”?


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