101 Dumbest Moments in Business
2005's shenanigans, skulduggery and just plain stupidity.
61. Farting shoes? What's not to like?Florida-based Goosebumps Products, a maker of gel-filled shoe inserts, sues supplier Bell Chem Corp., claiming that, by delivering the wrong chemical, it had caused bubbles to form in the insoles that emit "a flatulence-like noise" with each step. Goosebumps is forced to dispose of at least 35,000 pairs and soon goes out of business.
62. "Can you hear us now? We're sor--"Vodafone in New Zealand apologizes for cleaning out the prepaid accounts of customers who accessed its "absolutely free" service offering games, ringtones, and other downloads. The company declines to reveal how many customers were affected or how much money was involved in its hastily arranged reimbursement program.
63. "The Other White Meat Queen" probably wouldn't fit on the sash.
64. Told you we shouldn't have rented that list from the Department of Homeland Security.Blaming a mailing-list vendor for providing bad information, JPMorgan Chase apologizes for sending a form letter about its credit card services to an Arab American man in California addressed to "Palestinian Bomber."
65. Don't be so hard on yourself. There's the demise of mom-and-pop coffeehouses, the poverty and despair among Third World growers ..."Every time I reach a Starbucks, I feel like I've accomplished something, when actually I have accomplished nothing." -- Winter (yes, just Winter), a Houston man who, since 1997, has been on a quest to buy a something-ccino at each of the world's 6,000 corporately owned Starbucks.
66. No late fees. Honest. Sort of.In January, Blockbuster kicks off a "no late fees" policy. The catch? If customers keep their movies more than a week past the due date, their credit cards are charged for the full purchase price; when they return the items, their refund comes minus a "restocking fee." By March the company settles with 47 states for $630,000 and agrees to pay refunds to consumers who felt misled.
67. Bubble Trouble, Part 5: Can't keep up with the Joneses? Heck, it's bad enough just trying to keep up with the appreciation on their dilapidated Victorians.In March the median price of a single-family detached home in the San Francisco Bay Area rises more than $1,000 per day. By month's end, it swells to $106,000 above the previous year's median -- 43 percent more than the area's estimated average household income of about $74,000.
68. The pen is mightier than the sword.Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher, brought out of retirement to restore the company's image in the wake of ethical lapses by predecessor Phil Condit -- including allegations of affairs with female employees -- is forced to resign for having an affair with a female employee. Though the relationship was consensual, Boeing's board determined that Stonecipher had violated the company's code of conduct -- a document that all 160,000 Boeing employees have been required to sign annually since it was put into place by Stonecipher in 2003.
69. The irony is rich. Shareholders, alas, are not.In June, H&R Block announces a review of its recent financial statements, estimating it will find discrepancies in its favor of about $19 million. Two months later it reveals that the review found $77 million in errors -- in the other direction. The company explains that it had "insufficient resources" to identify and report complex transactions in its corporate tax accounting.
70. Good mourning."They should be a bit subdued, but still elegant." -- Staffan Preutz, CEO of Swedish eyewear maker Polaris Optic, on his company's launch of a new collection designed for women attending funerals.
From the February 1, 2006 issue