10 Typos That Cost Millions Of Dollars


10. Tropical Fruit-Pants In 1872, one misplaced comma cost the U.S.
Government $2 million. To put that in perspective, today that comma would be worth over $50 million. The tiny error was made in the US Tariff Act,
instead of making tropical ‘fruit-plants’ [that’s fruit hyphen plants, meaning plants
that bear fruit] exempt from tariffs, the act used the wording ‘fruit, plants’ [that’s
fruit comma plants]. That rogue comma mean all tropical fruit and plants were free from
charge. The government did eventually correct the
typo, but until after two years of lost revenue. Source: Business Insider, International Business
Times 09. Japanese Sock Exchange The Japanese Mizuho [mitz-uh-ho] Securities
Co, a division of the second largest bank in Japan, lost millions in a typo related
error in 2005. While trying to sell shares of a recruiting
agency on the Japanese Stock Exchange, the bank accidentally listed 610,000 shares as
costing 1 yen each, rather than each share costing 610,000 yen. No one seemed to notice
the fact that 610,000 shares was actually 41 times the number available, either. In less than a day, the company lost a quarter
of a billion dollars – equivalent to the entire profit it had made that year. The mistake was attributed to ‘fat-finger’
syndrome; a term in the stock market for a huge accidental blunder. Source: CBS News, Financial Times 08. Airline Rickets In 2006 Alitalia Airlines accidentally listed
business-class flights from Toronto to Cyprus at $39, instead of $3,900. Two thousand quick-thinking
travelers took advantage of the mistake, booking tickets as fast as they could. When the airline tried to cancel the tickets,
they suffered a massive backlash from their customers. Worried about their reputation
Alitalia decided to cut its losses and allow the budget ticket holders to fly; a move which
improved public relations, but cost the company somewhere in the region of $7.2 million. Source: Daily Mirror, CBC, National Post 07. The Brutish Government The British Government accidentally listed
Taylor & Sons Ltd., rather than Taylor & Son Ltd. as a failing business approaching liquidation. This extra ‘S’ in the name of the report
caused a confusion between the failing company and a respected engineering firm, which saw
it’s clients back out of deals, its suppliers cancel contracts and creditors withdrawing
their agreement. Two months after the typo report the 134-year-old
family business was bankrupt, with 250 people losing their jobs. Seen as a direct consequence
of the British Government’s mistake Taylor & Sons were awarded nearly $14 million in
compensation in 2015. Source: Daily Mail, Metro 06. Buying and Soiling Between 1993 and 1994, stockbroker Juan Pablo
Davila lost $206 million on the stock market because of a simple typo. The trader accidentally entered the shares
he wanted to sell into the buy column on his computer and lost $30 million. After realizing
his costly mistake, Davila went on a buying and selling spree, making 5,000 transactions
with 23 brokers in less than 6 months – risking up to $1.8 billion but finally losing a total
of $206 million. He eventually served 3 years in prison for
his dubious financial prowess. Source: LA Times, NY Times, ISLA 1997 05. Everyone’s A Weiner In 2007, a car dealership thought it would
be a great idea to drum up some customers by sending out lottery tickets to locals.
The idea was to send out 50,000 tickets with just one winner of a $1,000. Unfortunately, the marketing company responsible
for making the tickets made a huge mistake. They printed all 50,000 tickets as grand prize
winners – essentially giving away $50 million. Rather than pay out the fortune, the dealership
apologized and offered $5 Wal-Mart gift cards. Source: UPI, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 04. Lockheed Martini When Lockheed Martin agreed to produce a military
transport aircraft for an unnamed air force, thought to be UK, Italy or Australia, they
signed a very specific contract. As the deal would require several years of
manufacturing, the agreement stated that the cost the planes would increase alongside inflation. Unfortunately the formula that worked out
the cost of the aircraft had a typo in it; a comma that was one decimal place in the
wrong direction. This typo would cause Lockheed Martin to lose $70 million, as they were locked
into the contract, and the customer, whoever it was, wouldn’t agree to adjust the error. Source: The Indian Express, CNN 03. Googol Typosquatting is a controversial practice
where people register slightly misspelled versions of popular websites to generate hits
and revenue, and, according to a Harvard study in 2010, it can be very lucrative. Researchers found that whenever someone types
in the wrong address to go to a website, which is about 0.7% of the time, they are normally
redirected to a site covered in advertisements. Going to ‘typo’ websites happens over
70 million times a day, costing the correctly spelled domain tons of cash. In fact, as Google
supply more than half the ads on the typo sites, its estimated the search giant earns
a whopping $500 million from the practice. Source: New Scientist, Benjamin Edelman – Harvard
University, The Register 02. Yellow Mages In 1988 a Californian travel agency posted
an advert in the Yellow Pages for ‘Exotic travel’, but unfortunately a typo led to
it advertising ‘erotic travel’ instead. The agency’s reputation was destroyed, losing
80% of its existing customers and gaining next to no new business because of the advertisement
– aside from prank calls and heavy breathing perverts. Yellow Pages allegedly refused to issue a
correction so the travel agency sued, and won $18 million on the grounds of gross negligence. Source: AP Newswire, The Daily Mirror 01. NASA Rackets On July 22, 1962 the Mariner 1 space probe
exploded shortly after liftoff, in one of the most expensive typo related incidents
in history. NASA investigators concluded that the omission
of a single hyphen in the guidance software had led to a series of false course correction
signals. The rocket was then deliberately detonated to prevent the rocket crashing down
in a populated area. Political pressure to get the rocket in space
was blamed for the rushed preparations; leading to the typo’s presence. The rocket was worth
between $80 and $150 million. Source: Wired, NASA, Reliability in Scientific
Research by IR Walker

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