101 Dumbest Moments in Business
2005's shenanigans, skulduggery and just plain stupidity.
71. Phantom menace.In October the board of Infinium Labs reveals that chairman Timothy Roberts is under investigation by the SEC for allegedly sending junk faxes touting penny stocks -- including shares of Infinium, maker of the little-known Phantom game console. The board also announces that financial reports prepared by Roberts, the company's CEO before he resigned in August, should not be relied on. A month later the company's new CEO, Kevin Bachus, also resigns. The board -- which still includes Roberts -- manages to tempt consultant Greg Koler into the CEO hot seat with the tantalizing prize of 4 million shares of Infinium stock, currently worth $68,000.
72. How you know your city has an image problem: A) It's being mocked by Sacramento ...
73. Oxymoron alert: Erotic City/Boise.The proprietors of the Erotic City strip club in Boise, Idaho, attempt to circumvent a local law banning nudity except for performances of "serious artistic merit" by distributing sketch pads and pencils to customers for twice-weekly G-string-free "art" nights. Local police raid the club, issuing misdemeanor citations.
74. Neil French, meet Bernie Ecclestone."Women should be all dressed in white, like all other domestic appliances." -- Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, on Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish at the Indy 500, the best showing ever by a woman in the race.
75. And the slots? It's just cherry-cherry-cherry all night long.The Bluffs Run Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, fires Judith Roederer-Dillard for accidentally stocking a bill-changing machine with $100s instead of $20s. Happy gamblers play the machine for almost six hours, extracting about $46,000 in "winnings" before the casino shuts it down.
76. Our listeners -- what a bunch of fools.On April 1, radio station KBDS in Los Angeles pranks a contest winner who is expecting a new Hummer H2. Instead, Shannon Castillo receives a radio-controlled toy version of the H2. Castillo had hired a babysitter so she could go collect the prize, but when she sues the station, it's not for the child-care expenses -- it's for the $60,000 value of an actual Hummer.
77. Our listeners -- they're even more gullible than KBDS's!On May 25, radio host D.J. Slick of WLTO in Lexington, Ky., runs an on-air contest to "win 100 grand." Norreasha Gill, the lucky 10th caller, tells her three children that winning $100,000 means the family's finally going to be able to afford a house with a backyard. The following day the station informs Gill that she actually won a Nestlé's 100 Grand candy bar. The irate Gill, after turning down a $5,000 settlement from the station, sues for the full prize.
78. But they only look like roadkill. It's the Velveeta Shells & Cheese that tastes like roadkill.After complaints from animal-rights activists, Kraft Foods deletes an online animation for its Trolli Road Kill Gummi Candy that features animals amusingly caught in car headlights. The fruit-flavored Trolli candy, which comes in the shapes of squished snakes, squirrels, and chickens, is later discontinued.
79. Let's see, that's 752 rum-and-Cokes, 363 orders of buffalo wings, 2,000 lap dances ...In October, American Express sues Savvis CEO Robert McCormick for $241,000 in charges he racked up on a visit to New York strip club Scores. Savvis places McCormick on unpaid leave after he admits to the visit but claims that he charged less than $20,000. He later resigns, accepting more than $600,000 in severance but forfeiting almost $3 million in preferred stock.
80. Or even more if Bob McCormick shows up looking to party."For every 2 inches up there, it's another $50,000." -- Sales consultant William Fried, speaking to eighth-graders on Career Day at a middle school in Palo Alto. Fried lists "stripper" and "exotic dancer" among potential occupations and reportedly tells students that the profession can garner them annual salaries of $250,000 -- a figure that can easily be augmented along with their bust size.
From the February 1, 2006 issue