7 Funniest Biz Blunders

To err is human. So is snickering at others' mindless mistakes. Have a giggle over these manufacturing mishaps and silly snafus:

Every year, Business 2.0 comes up with a list that celebrates the past year's most inane, misguided and sometimes just downright wacky business moves--101 Dumbest Moments in Business. We pick 7 that left us aghast or laughing...or both.

Nuts Over Bolts

Workers at Lockheed Martin unceremoniously drop a $239-million weather satellite while moving it, inflicting a reported $135 million in damage. A NASA investigation uncovers the mishap and reveals that the cause of the accident was 24 missing bolts.

A Little Something Extra

Hormel Foods is left with no choice but to recall 104,000 lbs. of Stagg canned chili, when it discovers that it has inadvertently added an extra ingredient--bits and pieces of a plastic handheld calculator.

What a Track Record

Chairman of gunmaker Smith & Wesson, James Joseph Minder, is forced to resign when newspaper reporters dig up his criminal record. It turns out that before he was a corporate executive, Minder was in prison for 15 years for a series of armed robberies and an attempted prison break.

Not Even Close

The Grand Challenge--a robot race across the Mojave Desert--was supposed to spark innovation in self-driving vehicles. Unfortunately, not one of the 15 entrants seemed particularly inspired as they all fail to come within 134 miles of the finish line. The "champion" of the Pentagon-sponsored event is a refashioned Hummer constructed by a team from Carnegie Mellon for $3 million. It manages to travel 7 miles before it bumps into a rock and its tires catch fire.

Quite a Bash

All Nokia wanted to do was invite its customers to a lively gathering at an industry trade show in Germany. Instead the cell-phone maker's text message invitation proves to be so potent that it immediately debilitates hundreds of phones. The damage is so severe that the cell phones have to be brought to Nokia service centers to be repaired.

SOS from a TV

An orbiting search and rescue satellite notifies police and the Air Force when it picks up an international distress signal coming from...a TV set. TV owner Chris van Rossman of Corvallis, Oregon is mystified, and TV manufacturer Toshiba has no explanation for the uniquely gifted idiot box but does offer to get him a new one.

They've Come Undone

Bike-lock maker Kryptonite, whose slogan is "Tough World, Tough Locks," discovers that most of the locks it has manufactured for the past three decades are not so tough after all. Last September, bloggers started posting videos showing that all it takes is a Bic pen to pick open its widely used U-shaped locks. Donna Tocci, spokeswoman for the Ingersoll-Rand subsidiary, tries to assure customers that the locks still prevent theft and that Kryptonite would rush deliveries of its new locks to stores. But this fails to appease angry bloggers, forcing the company to agree to replace its Bic pen-challenged products--at an estimated cost of $10 million. As of December, Kryptonite is still struggling to manufacture and ship the 100,000 replacement locks, derailing shipments of new locks and costing the company some $6 million in sales.


101 Dumbest Moments in Business

Adam Horowitz, Mark Athitakis, Mark Lasswell, and Owen Thomas

Business 2.0, January/February 2005


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