Not all typos are created equally. I mean, there are those autocorrect mishaps that we have all sent to parents, coworkers, or loved ones that can make for a pretty awkward situation. Then there are the typos, say in an article that thousands of people are going to read, that make you look ignorant – no matter how smart you might be. If I sounded bitter in that last sentence, I assure you I was not. Awkwardness and personal grief aside, there have been some typos in history that have been truly DISASTROUS on a financial scale.
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1. New Mexico Car Dealership
Back in 2007, a Roswell, New Mexico car dealership came up with a brilliant idea to mail out “scratch-off tickets” that had a grand prize potential of a $1000 dollars. An Atlanta-based company called Force Events Direct Marketing printed out 50,000 the tickets and mailed them out. There was only one problem: instead of ONE of the tickets being a $1000 dollar winner – THEY ALL WERE. Since the dealership didn’t have $50 million dollars to shell out for all of the winning tickets, they offered a $5 Walmart gift card instead.
Total Damage: $250,000 (potentially)
2. New York MTA
The New York Transit Authority had a little mishap where they had to recall over 160,00 maps that listed the new rates for their pay-per-ride cards. The increase in price was only 50 cents ($4.50 to $5.00), but the new maps listed the minimum as $4.50. Doesn’t seem like a big deal right? It was, considering it would take 100,00 rides to recoup that money.
Total Loss: $500,000
3. eBay Mishap
There was an eBay seller who was auctioning off an antique case of 150-year Allsopp’s Artic Ale. When he made the listing, he misspelled the name of the beer (Allsop’s instead of Allsopp’s). The seller still managed to sell the case of old beer for $304 dollars to a buyer who knew exactly what they were actually buying. That seller then turned around and sold THE SAME CASE OF BEER for $503,300 dollars…
Total Loss: $502,996
Read: 15 of the Best Quotes from one of History’s Most Incredible Women, Maya Angelou
4. New York City Department of Education
Bookkeeping is tough enough as it is before you mix in the added perils of computers and software. In 2006, William Thompson – the city’s comptroller, admitted to making a typo while entering in the city’s expenses. The typo (one extra letter) lead to the city doubling the Department of Education’s transportation spending.
Total Damage: $1.4 Million
5. Sonoma California Yellow Pages
Back when Banner Travel Services was in business, they decided to place an ad in the yellow pages to advertise their travel agency. The ad that was placed listed a specialty in EROTIC destinations, as opposed to EXOTIC destinations. Although the ad attracted some attention, it wasn’t the kind of attention Banner Travel Services was looking for. The Yellow Pages offered to waive their $230.00 dollar monthly fee, but Banner went ahead and sued them for $10 Million.
Total Damage: $10,000,230
Read: 11 of the Smartest People to Have Ever Lived (Based on IQ)
In 1962, NASA built the first interplanetary probe, the Mariner 1. It’s mission was to do a fly-by of Venus and send back data about our closest neighbor planet, but because of a missing hyphen in the codes – it blew up seconds after being launched. Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, called it “the most expensive hyphen in history.”
Total Damage: $80 Million
7. Juan Pablo Davila
Back in 1994, online stock trading was very new, and apparently very full of peril. Juan Pablo Davila, who was employed by a government-owned Chilean copper company, accidently bought a whole bunch of stock that he was trying to sell. Once he realized his mistake, he went into a trading frenzy to try and cover his losses. Well, ol’ Pablo didn’t exactly recoup those loses. By the end of the day he had lost the company/country of Chile $175 Million Dollars. He was immediately fired, and the country tried to sue Merill Lynch, stating that Davila made unauthorized trades. Lynch settled for $25 million.
Total Loss: $150 Million
Read: ‘Telepathy Is Possible’ Says Most Complex Brain-To-Brain Study Ever Conducted
8. Mizuho Securities
In 2005, The Japanese securities firm added a new company to their portfolio: a recruiting firm, J-Com Co. The price for the stock was 610,000 yen for 1 share. The next year, somehow the company managed to list 610,000 shares for 1 yen a piece, instead of 610,000 yen PER 1 share. No amount of pleading with the Tokyo Stock Exchange could undo the error, and Mizuho was stuck footing the bill.
Total Damage: $340 Million