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101 Dumbest Moments in Business 2007

Fortune Magazine has made an absolutely hilarious list of the worst business decisions of 2007.  I’m not going to reprint them all, but here are some of the highlights.  Enjoy.  (I threw in some of my own comments in blue)


1. China – Mattel recalls almost 20 million items made in China due to the use of lead paint and tiny magnets that can be swallowed by children.  844,000 Barbie accessories are also recalled.

Pet food makers recall 60 million cans of food laced with melamine.  Steroids and growth hormones are traced back to 37 companies in China.  There’s plenty more Chinese recalls, but you get the point.


13. Disneyland – They announce plans to close the “It’s a Small World” attraction to deepen the water channel after the boats get stuck under heavy passengers.  Employees ask larger passengers to disembark – and compensate them with coupons for free food.

It really is the “happiest place on earth.”


16. Microsoft’s PR Firm – While working on a background article for MS execs, Wired contributing editor Fred Vogelstein receives a 13 page article about himself, describing him as “tricky” and his stories as “sensational.”  The PR firm sent it inadvertently to the writer.

They should’ve used Outlook.


32. Jay-Z – Rapper Jay-Z, founder of the Rocawear clothing line, is taken to task by the Humane Society after it finds that the “faux fur” in jackets sold by his company is actually dog fur.

Word to your mother.


36. Best Buy – The state of Connecticut sues Best Buy for setting up in-store kiosks set to a website that looks identical to but lists higher prices than those they would actually find online.

That’s it!  I’ve had it.  I’m going to shop at Circuit City instead.


46. Johnson and Johnson – Johnson & Johnson sues the American Red Cross for infringement of its trademarked red cross.

“Those greedy bastards at the Red Cross are NOT going to get away with this.  Johnson!” 

“Yes, Johnson.”

“Sue them!”


47. John Mackey of Whole Foods – “I like Mackey’s haircut. I think he looks cute.” — Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, posting under the screen name Rahodeb, on a Yahoo Finance stock forum. The Federal Trade Commission reveals that Mackey authored this and numerous other posts over an eight-year period, hyping his company and himself while trashing the competitor he hoped to acquire, Wild Oats.

But he looks so down to earth!


51. Apple –

One, two, three, four, we’ll sue you if you send us more

Nine-year-old Shea O’Gorman sends a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggesting ideas for improving her beloved iPod Nano, including adding onscreen lyrics so people can sing along. She gets back a letter from Apple’s legal counsel stating that the company doesn’t accept unsolicited ideas and telling her not to send in any more suggestions.

I have the punch line right here.  “Apple then announces a new iPod Nano, featuring onscreen lyrics so people can sing along.”


54. Research in Motion – BlackBerry users are forced to go cold turkey when maker Research in Motion’s servers go down for the better part of a day. “I felt like my left arm had been amputated,” says one. Six months later a number of prominent addicts – including venture capitalist Fred Wilson and Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams – admit to experiencing phantom incoming-message vibrations even when not wearing their devices.


68. Thomas the Tank Engine – Illinois-based RC2 Corp., maker of Thomas the Tank Engine toys, recalls 1.5 million of the wooden trains because of excessive levels of lead in their paint (see Mattel). Consumers who return the tainted toys are then sent free boxcars, some of which are recalled three months later for the same reason.

“Outraged customers are given tickets to Disneyworld and free food coupons.”


70. Circuit City – In a cost-cutting move, Circuit City lays off all sales associates paid 51 cents or more per hour above an “established pay range” – essentially firing 3,400 of its top performers in one fell swoop. Over the next eight months Circuit City’s share price drops by almost 70%.

“That’s it!  I’ve had it.  I’m switching to Best Buy.  I mean, uh, I’m switching to Comp USA!”


74. Google – As thousands of eBay’s biggest sellers gather in Boston for a convention sponsored by the auction site, Google invites them to a party promoting Google Checkout, a payment system that competes with eBay’s PayPal. In response eBay, the single largest buyer of search ads on Google, “tests” a shift of its marketing dollars, pulling all its U.S. ads from the search engine for more than a week. Google cancels its party.

Later that month Google hosts a party for it’s largest users.  Ebay offers to help the attendees search for airline tickets on their on their website.


76. Jessica Simpson – Jessica Simpson stars in commercials for Pizza Hut’s Cheesy Bites pizza, then tells Elle magazine that she’s allergic to wheat … and tomatoes … and cheese.

She later admits that she does like sausage, then heads off to Mexico with quarterback boyfriend Tony Romo, who subsequently loses the big playoff game.  He says, “We partied to hard.  Heck I partied like a Rock Star.  But that’s not why we lost.”


82. One Laptop Per Child – Nigerian schoolchildren receive $200 computers under the U.N. One Laptop Per Child program and quickly learn a few things nobody expected – such as how to find adult websites and how to store their favorite images on the computers’ hard drives. Program leaders say future laptops will be fitted with filters.

I believe they also started emailing copies of the Nigerian Scam, in which a wealthy foreigner needs help moving millions of dollars from his homeland, promises a hefty percentage of this fortune as a reward for assisting him.


84. Southwest Airlines – A Southwest Airlines gate agent tells Kyla Ebbert – a 23-year-old college student and Hooters waitress wearing a denim miniskirt, high-heeled sandals, and a sweater over a tank top – that she’s dressed too provocatively to be allowed on a flight from San Diego to Tucson. Though the agent ultimately relents and lets her onboard, an indignant Ebbert goes public, appearing on the Today show. Southwest takes a massive publicity hit; Ebbert is hired by Richard Branson to promote rival low-cost carrier Virgin America and by Playboy to pose for a pictorial.

Isn’t Southwest the same company on the show, Airline, where customers are consistently mistreated, kicked off flights, face delays and are abused by the staff?  Yeah, I thought so.


90. Southwest Airlines, Part 2 – A man boarding a Southwest Airlines flight in Ohio is ordered to change his T-shirt, which depicts a fictional fishing shop with the words MASTER BAITER. The airline is again forced to apologize.

I’m sorry, was this Southwest Airlines or are Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa critiquing the worst dressed passengers now, since the Oscars might be cancelled due to a writer’s strike?


98. Intel – To promote the speed of its Core 2 Duo Processor, Intel releases a print ad featuring six bare-shouldered black sprinters crouched in their starting positions beneath a white guy dressed for the office. “We made a bad mistake,” says Don MacDonald, the company’s director of global marketing. “I know why and how, but that doesn’t make it better.”

Hold on please, Kelly Tilghman is coming to the phone to explain the faux pas.  She’ll be right with you.  While you’re waiting, please enjoy the music.  “Swing low, sweet chariot…”

Please feel free to add your own.


January 17, 2008 - Posted by | Opinions

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