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Business Blunders of the Year

Business Blunders of the Year

By Adam Horowitz, Martin Douglass, and Mike Grudowski

Apple. Google. Walmart. Boeing. The U.S. Treasury. These hallowed names are among the crème de la crème in business and the economy. Top of the heap. Cock of the walk. Best and brightest. The A List, you might say.

Unfortunately, from time to time esteemed organizations like these find themselves on an altogether different kind of list. The wrong kind. Here at BNET, we call it the B List.

This is where you'll find the scoundrels and slackers, the frauds and failures, the ne'er-do-wells and nincompoops. Some landed here for nefarious reasons, others from incompetence, arrogance, or good old-fashioned cluelessness. But however they got here, all the members of BNET's B List have one thing in common: They were guilty of the biggest, dumbest, most appalling, or just plain funniest blunders of the year.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Stop, thief! Um … on second thought, never mind.

Stop, thief! Um … on second thought, never mind.

Stop, thief! Um … on second thought, never mind.

Walmart fires Heather Ravenstein, a customer service manager at a store in Wichita, Kan., for preventing a shoplifter from walking out with a $600 computer. Though the thief let go of the PC after punching and kicking her, Ravenstein was terminated the next day, says Walmart spokeswoman Anna Taylor, for "violat[ing] company policy as it pertains to how we treat people in our stores."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Room: bzo

Business Blunders of the Year

Guess you shouldn't have hired Bluto and Flounder to lead HR.

Guess you shouldn't have hired Bluto and Flounder to lead HR.

Guess you shouldn't have hired Bluto and Flounder to lead HR.

Several top executives at Chicago-based Tribune Company resign from the bankrupt media conglomerate after reports surface of frat-house behavior among company brass. Among other notorious incidents, CEO Randy Michaels allegedly offers a waitress, in the presence of other company employees, $100 to bare her chest; chief innovation officer Lee Abrams sends a company-wide e-mail that includes a link to a parody video from The Onion in which a woman empties a liquor bottle on her exposed breasts; and a memo announcing the hiring of a senior vice president describes her (fictionally) as "a former waitress at Knockers—the Place for Hot Racks and Cold Brews."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Tribune Building: Seansie

Business Blunders of the Year

I'd like to complain about the starving mob scavenging on the Lido Deck.

I'd like to complain about the starving mob scavenging on the Lido Deck.

I'd like to complain about the starving mob scavenging on the Lido Deck.

Despite the chaos gripping nearby Port au Prince, Royal Caribbean Cruises forges ahead with plans to drop vacationers at its private beach in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that killed more than 200,000. An article in Advertising Age says the company's brand could suffer "lasting damage from the visuals of mostly white vacationers frolicking in the sun … while only 60 miles away thousands of people are fighting over food and water." A headline in the New York Post sums things up even more succinctly: "Ship of Ghouls."

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

Knock, knock. Housekeeping...

Knock, knock. Housekeeping...

Knock, knock. Housekeeping...

The Hyatt Corporation is sued by a female guest after an incident in which she returns to her room at a Hyatt in Deerfield, Ill., to discover a male hotel employee wearing her panties, skirt, and heels. The employee, 32-year-old Oscar Garcia-Franco, first tells police he'd merely been cleaning the room, but later tearfully admits the incident and pleads guilty to a misdemeanor. The guest sues the chain on grounds including invasion of privacy and negligent infliction of emotional distress, alleging that the hotel manager initially ignored her complaint and took no action until she demanded that police be brought in.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Crossdresser: Foxtongue

Business Blunders of the Year

Then say "No hablo ingles," make a static noise, and hang up.

Then say "No hablo ingles," make a static noise, and hang up.

Then say

Documents from a lawsuit against Dell unsealed by a federal judge in November reveal that, after shipping nearly 12 million potentially defective computers equipped with faulty capacitors from 2003 to 2005, the company had provided its sales force with instructions that included pointers such as "Don't bring this to customer's attention proactively" and "Emphasize uncertainty."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Hi, my name is Mr. Reaper. Do you have the rest of eternity to answer a few brief questions?

Hi, my name is Mr. Reaper. Do you have the rest of eternity to answer a few brief questions?

Hi, my name is Mr. Reaper. Do you have the rest of eternity to answer a few brief questions?

Health-information website WrongDiagnosis.com, which attempts to help patients who believe their medical practitioners may have reached erroneous conclusions, offers a "Patient Profile Survey" that poses questions such as, "At what age did you first notice symptoms of Death?" "How long after you noticed symptoms of Death were you officially diagnosed?" And finally, "Are you happy with your experiences of medical care for Death?"

Photo Illustration: BNET

Death: iStockPhoto.com

Business Blunders of the Year

Remind me: Is Cuervo above or below Fritos and M&Ms on that new food pyramid?

Remind me: Is Cuervo above or below Fritos and M&Ms on that new food pyramid?

Remind me: Is Cuervo above or below Fritos and M&Ms on that new food pyramid?

To write a white paper that will guide British government policies on obesity, alcohol, and diet-related diseases, the UK Dept of Health enlists the aid of businesses including McDonald's, KFC, Kellogg's, Mars, and booze conglomerate Diageo. PepsiCo is chosen to chair the subcommittee on calories, while the "alcohol responsibility" group is helmed by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

We Can … make our kids even fatter than the Brits!

We Can … make our kids even fatter than the Brits!

We Can … make our kids even fatter than the Brits!

The National Institutes of Health launches a program called We Can!—short for "Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition—with the stated goal of "improving food choices, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time." To promote the campaign, the group holds a video contest on the We Can! YouTube channel and encourages kids to vote for their favorite videos on the We Can! Facebook page.

Photo: kathleenleavitt

Business Blunders of the Year

The beer won't slow you down, but the bottle might.

The beer won't slow you down, but the bottle might.

The beer won't slow you down, but the bottle might.

In September, MillerCoors launches an innovative new container for its Coors Light brand, made from 100 percent recyclable aluminum. The company spends millions on TV spots during the first few weeks of the NFL season, touting the bottle's twist-off cap, wide mouth, and sleek silver design. Unfortunately, the new packaging also causes what the company describes as "off-taste issues," possibly as the result of an adverse reaction between the bottle and the unpasteurized beer. Production is suspended in December.

Photo: Coors

Business Blunders of the Year

Nice to meet you, Sneezy. I'm Obnoxious, and these are my friends Entitled and Juvenile.

Nice to meet you, Sneezy. I'm Obnoxious, and these are my friends Entitled and Juvenile.

Nice to meet you, Sneezy. I'm Obnoxious, and these are my friends Entitled and Juvenile.

In an article detailing the return of lavish excess to Wall Street just a year after the TARP bailouts, the New York Times reports that a Morgan Stanley trader had recently been fired for attempting to hire a dwarf to appear at a bachelor party in Miami. According to e-mail exchanges, the trader had been planning to handcuff the dwarf to the groom.

Photo Composite: BNET

Dwarf: Crinklecrankle

Business Blunders of the Year

They were, however, granted a restraining order against the Three Little Pigs.

They were, however, granted a restraining order against the Three Little Pigs.

They were, however, granted a restraining order against the Three Little Pigs.

Lawyers for the National Pork Board send a cease-and-desist letter to ThinkGeek.com in an attempt to convince the online store for techies to stop calling a product it "launched" on April 1—canned unicorn—"the new white meat." After ThinkGeek publicly releases the letter, Ceci Snyder, the Pork Board's vice president of marketing, admits that the group "understands that unicorns don't exist."

Photo: thinkGeek.com

Business Blunders of the Year

Oops. That number was only supposed to run on Honey-Nut Tiger Woodsios.

Oops. That number was only supposed to run on Honey-Nut Tiger Woodsios.

Oops. That number was only supposed to run on Honey-Nut Tiger Woodsios.

Thanks to a misprint on boxes of Ochocinco's, a limited-edition cereal featuring Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and benefitting a charity called Feed the Children, callers looking to contact the nonprofit are instead directed to a phone-sex line. "Trying to do good and got messed up," tweets Ochocinco, "of all numbers why that one!!!" 

Photo Composite: BNET

Woman: iStockPhoto.com

Business Blunders of the Year

Another reason: It looked like a phone designed by Microsoft.

Another reason: It looked like a phone designed by Microsoft.

Another reason: It looked like a phone designed by Microsoft.

In June, Microsoft ends its first major attempt to develop its own handsets, discontinuing its line of Kin phones just six weeks after launch in the face of sales rumored to be as low as 500 units. Analysts say the phone bombed because it lacked full smartphone functionality—instead being designed around access to social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter—but nonetheless required a pricey, top-of-the-line data plan.

Photo: Microsoft

Business Blunders of the Year

Collapsible global financial system sold separately.

Collapsible global financial system sold separately.

Collapsible global financial system sold separately.

Online retailer That'sMyFace.com releases a line of 12-inch-high action figures that includes Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, offered with a choice of "happy" or "sad" faces and several wardrobe options, including "Indiana Jones."

Photo: thatsmyface.com

Business Blunders of the Year

TARP for lawyers

TARP for lawyers

TARP for lawyers

Mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac, a government-controlled entity that owes its survival to about $64 billion in bailouts from the U.S. Treasury Department, files suit against the Internal Revenue Service—an arm of the selfsame Treasury Department that provided the aforementioned $64 billion—over a levy of $3 billion in back taxes. If the suit is successful, American taxpayers (Freddie Mac) won't have to pay the $3 billion to American taxpayers (the IRS). If not, we will in fact owe ourselves the three large. Either way, someone will be paying Shearman & Sterling, the law firm representing Freddie in the case.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

TARP for dummies

TARP for dummies

TARP for dummies

In October, White House officials take the opportunity to toot the horn of the TARP program, announcing that the bailout would end up costing taxpayers a mere $50 billion. Critics, however, point out that the projection omits the cost of propping up mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—a point that's driven home just two weeks later when the companies' federal regulator announces that they may need an additional $215 billion, bringing their total tab to as high as $363 billion by the end of 2013.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Now that's what you call a flashy hotel.

Now that's what you call a flashy hotel.

Now that's what you call a flashy hotel.

Designers of a new Las Vegas resort called the Vdara are surprised to discover that the swanky reflective-glass surface of the building has a special feature not included in the plans: Like a giant magnifying glass, it focuses sunlight directly on the pool area. One guest says the beam burned his scalp and melted a plastic newspaper bag, telling ABC News that hotel staffers jokingly referred to it as "the death ray."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

We'd prefer a gift basket, but that hostile note from your lawyers is thoughtful too.

We'd prefer a gift basket, but that hostile note from your lawyers is thoughtful too.

We'd prefer a gift basket, but that hostile note from your lawyers is thoughtful too.

After Long Island, N.Y. daily Newsday creates a clever ad for the iPad that goes viral on the Web, Apple reportedly shows its gratitude by sending the paper a cease-and-desist letter. What stuck in Steve Jobs' craw? In the ad, Newsday says its iPad app "is better than the newspaper in all kinds of ways … except for one"— then makes the "one" clear when a man reading the digital Newsday uses it to swat a fly, shattering the device.

Photo: YouTube

Business Blunders of the Year

Every last one of the horses, however, had its papers in order.

Every last one of the horses, however, had its papers in order.

Every last one of the horses, however, had its papers in order.

Former CNN commentator Lou Dobbs, renowned for his outspoken criticism of "illegal aliens" and the "illegal employers" who knowingly hire them, is the subject of a yearlong investigation by The Nation, which finds that he has for years relied on undocumented Latino workers to maintain his 300-acre estate in New Jersey and a multimillion-dollar second home in West Palm Beach, Fla., and to attend to five European Warmblood show-jumping horses, typically valued at almost $1 million each, that his daughter, Hillary, rides in equestrian competitions. Dobbs says that neither he nor his company has ever hired an illegal immigrant, and says it is not his responsibility to check the status of workers hired by his contractors.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

I'll have a burger, fries, and title to that 3-bedroom bungalow.

I'll have a burger, fries, and title to that 3-bedroom bungalow.

I'll have a burger, fries, and title to that 3-bedroom bungalow.

As officials from all 50 states investigate shortcuts taken by banks in repossessing hundreds of thousands of homes, it becomes clear that the workers handling the foreclosures were often less than qualified. Among other telling details, a Wells Fargo employee testifies that she was signing 300 to 500 foreclosure documents per day without bothering to read them; a firm hired to review documents for Citigroup and GMAC is found to have outsourced the work to companies in the Philippines and Guam; and at JPMorgan Chase, in-house hires were so wet behind the ears that they were referred to internally as "Burger King kids."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Attendant: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

AABA Action: It's Fan-TastiKKK!

AABA Action: It's Fan-TastiKKK!

AABA Action: It's Fan-TastiKKK!

Pledging to "restore on-court sanity" to a game in which players are "carrying guns [and] attacking fans in the stands," Georgia wrestling promoter Don "Moose" Lewis announces plans for the All-American Basketball Alliance, a professional league in 12 southern cities open only to "players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race."

Photo Illustration: BNET

KKK: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

We'd have responded sooner, but we use our own network, so...

We'd have responded sooner, but we use our own network, so...

We'd have responded sooner, but we use our own network, so...

AT&T sends out a "Special Message" to its wireless customers, thanking them for their business and highlighting the company's $18 billion investment in its network. Unfortunately, the e-mail also contains a link to AT&T's Facebook page, which its loyal customers visit in droves to, um, return the thanks. "AT&T is the worst feature of the iPhone and the reason I want to throw mine against the wall on a daily basis," writes one fan. "I'm only sticking out my contract because I don't have the money to pay a termination fee," says another. "Service in Alabama sucks!" says a third, adding: "Seriously though, f### you!" Gushes yet another: "I hate ATT!!!!!!!!"

Photo Illustration: BNET

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

How many Hail Marys for that?

How many Hail Marys for that?

How many Hail Marys for that?

In what is believed to have been the result of a so-called Google Bomb attack by enterprising Italian hackers, users searching the word "Vatican" over the third weekend in July are directed to a site called pedofilo.com, after the Italian word for "pedophile."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Images: iStock

Business Blunders of the Year

America runs on fine print.

America runs on fine print.

America runs on fine print.

As part of its 60th anniversary celebration in May, Dunkin' Donuts announces a "Free Iced Coffee Day." For some reason, many customers assume this means the iced coffee at their neighborhood outlet will be, well, free. Most are wrong. The company is the target of angry complaints when it turns out that the promotion is limited to stores in only 13 cities nationwide.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Store: superba_

Business Blunders of the Year

Beavis and Butthead immediately cancel their subscriptions.

Beavis and Butthead immediately cancel their subscriptions.

Beavis and Butthead immediately cancel their subscriptions.

Tired of reader complaints that Internet filters are blocking its e-mails and newsletters, Canada's second-oldest magazine announces it will change its name from The Beaver to Canada's History. "Market research showed us that younger Canadians and women were very, very unlikely to ever buy a magazine called The Beaver," explains editor-in-chief Mark Reid, "no matter what it's about."

Photo: The Beaver

Business Blunders of the Year

Who wouldn't want a bunch of underpants emblazoned "B.M."?

Who wouldn't want a bunch of underpants emblazoned "B.M."?

Who wouldn't want a bunch of underpants emblazoned

At an auction of Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff's personal effects, an unidentified man from Long Island, N.Y., successfully bids $1,700 for a lot that includes 138 pairs of Charvet socks, a pair of black silk Armani pants, and 11 pairs of monogrammed boxer shorts.

Photo: wsj.com

Business Blunders of the Year

You're right, it ain't right at all.

You're right, it ain't right at all.

You're right, it ain't right at all.

Two months and roughly 3 million barrels of spilled crude into the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster—and fresh off criticism for saying "I'd like my life back" after the accident had cost 11 workers theirs—BP CEO Tony Hayward adds insult to injury by spending the day off the Isle of Wight aboard his $270,000 Farr 52 racing yacht. Stunned reactions to the sailing holiday from environmentalists, U.S. government officials, and Gulf Coast residents range from "insulting" to "the height of arrogance" to "man, that ain't right."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

In celebration, Dick Cheney will lead a composting seminar at 3.

In celebration, Dick Cheney will lead a composting seminar at 3.

 In celebration, Dick Cheney will lead a composting seminar at 3.

In June, at the height of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP is removed from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, a measure that tracks the financial performance of firms hailed as "the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide." Three months later, after a "thorough analysis of corporate economic, environmental, and social performance," BP's replacement in the index is announced: Halliburton,the scandal plagued war contractor once run by global warming denier Dick Cheney. Halliburton had been responsible for cementing the seal of the well that had catastrophically blown out at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

But it still comes up if you enter "Vatican" into the search box.

But it still comes up if you enter "Vatican" into the search box.

But it still comes up if you enter

When bloggers reveal that Amazon is selling a how-to manual titled The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure in its Kindle e-book store, the retailer releases a statement defending the book's inclusion on the site: "Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable." Hours later, Amazon no longer believes it is censorship, pulling the book after a deluge of outraged messages from customers, multible boycott pages on Facebook, and a nationally televised lambasting from Dr. Phil.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Just don't touch Mr. Snuggles' junk.

Just don't touch Mr. Snuggles' junk.

Just don't touch Mr. Snuggles' junk.

TSA screeners in Chattanooga, Tenn., conduct a pat-down search on three-year-old Mandy Simon, much to the chagrin of her TV reporter dad, whose video of the encounter helps to fuel the public's anger toward the outfit securing our nation's airports. The incident began when the younger Simon objected to putting her teddy bear through the X-ray scanner.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Photos: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

The windfall enabled Madoff to buy his very own Blankfein doll.

The windfall enabled Madoff to buy his very own Blankfein doll.

The windfall enabled Madoff to buy his very own Blankfein doll.

The Social Security Administration's inspector general reports that the federal government sent stimulus checks totaling $22.3 million—intended to help increase consumer spending—to more than 17,000 prison inmates and almost 72,000 dead people.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

These colors don't run … an accurate ad campaign.

These colors don't run … an accurate ad campaign.

These colors don't run … an accurate ad campaign.

Chrysler debuts a stirring, patriotic commercial during the 2010 World Cup, featuring George Washington himself driving a Stars-and-Stripes-festooned Dodge Challenger into battle against the British. What could be more American? Unfortunately, not a Dodge Challenger. As Consumer Reports is quick to point out, the Challenger was engineered in Germany and built in Canada by a company owned in part by Italian carmaker Fiat.

Photo: Youtube

Business Blunders of the Year

Rest assured. Your precious little sources of ancillary revenue are in good hands.

Rest assured. Your precious little sources of ancillary revenue are in good hands.

Rest assured. Your precious little sources of ancillary revenue are in good hands.

New York–based Echometrix settles charges with the Federal Trade Commission that the company had failed to adequately inform customers that data gathered by its FamilySafe Sentry Parental Control software—intended to help parents protect their children from potential predators by monitoring their online activity—would be sold to third-party marketers. The company had been using the data to fuel a program called Pulse, a market-research tool offering insights drawn from social media websites, blogs, and chat forums.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Can you hear me now? Good: You stink too.

Can you hear me now? Good: You stink too.

Can you hear me now? Good: You stink too.

Surprising very few, in April influential watchdog site Consumerist.com names Comcast the "Worst Company in America," based on complaints about the cable giant's customer service. Upon hearing the news, archrival Verizon attempts to capitalize in less-than-humble fashion, gloating on its Twitter feed, "One of the few times you'll hear us congratulate Comcast." Not mentioned on Verizon's Twitter feed, but soon scathingly pointed out by Consumerist: the fact that Verizon itself, "of all the companies in the country, did make our bottom 32."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

But if Mr. Snuggles is still too traumatized by his TSA run-in, you could just use Photoshop.

But if Mr. Snuggles is still too traumatized by his TSA run-in, you could just use Photoshop.

But if Mr. Snuggles is still too traumatized by his TSA run-in, you could just use Photoshop.

A French company called Furry Toys Tours offers to take customers' stuffed animals on seven- to 23-day "vacations" for 100 Euros and up, including sending daily e-mails to clients with photos of their "fluffy toy's adventure" at various Paris landmarks.

Photo: furrytoystours.com

 

Business Blunders of the Year

Now, with noise-cancelling headphones!

Now, with noise-cancelling headphones!

Now, with noise-cancelling headphones!

A year after botching redesigns of Tropicana juice cartons and Gatorade bottles, PepsiCo again fails the brand-makeover test. This time the culprit is snack-food subsidiary Frito-Lay, which, after noisily trumpeting new biodegradable packaging for its Sun Chips brand, soon learns that the bags don't need much help making noise. Facebook groups with names like "Sorry but I can't hear you over this Sun Chips bag" and "I wanted Sun Chips but my roommate was sleeping" start cropping up, and tests reveal the bags yield noise levels greater than 100 decibels. In October, the company switches back to the old, non-recyclable Sun Chips bags for five of its six flavors, telling USA Today, "We are on a journey with compostable packaging."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Tell Mommy, sweetheart: Are you going wee-wee or making a Bernie Madoff?

Tell Mommy, sweetheart: Are you going wee-wee or making a Bernie Madoff?

Tell Mommy, sweetheart: Are you going wee-wee or making a Bernie Madoff?

Huggies unveils Little Movers Jeans Diapers, printed to look like denim, with the slogan "The Coolest You'll Look Pooping Your Pants."

Photo: Huggies® Jeans

Business Blunders of the Year

Give us a low satisfaction score, Four-Eyes...or else.

Give us a low satisfaction score, Four-Eyes...or else.

Give us a low satisfaction score, Four-Eyes...or else.

Google announces it will change its search-engine algorithm after Brooklyn-based eyeglasses retailer Vitaly Borker tells The New York Times that abundant complaints posted online by customers after Borker harassed them and treated them abusively improved his rankings in Google search results and thus increased his company's revenue. Borker's alleged business practices included addressing dissatisfied customers as "bitch," sending an e-mail saying, "I AM WATCHING YOU," and sending one woman a photograph of the front of her own apartment building. Eventually, Borker is arrested by the United States Postal Inspection Service and charged with cyberstalking, sending threatening interstate communications, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

Side effects: headache, mood swings, bouts of immortality

Side effects: headache, mood swings, bouts of immortality

Side effects: headache, mood swings, bouts of immortality

Metro, Britain's fourth-largest daily newspaper, begins a story about the health benefits of the birth-control pill thusly: "Women who take the contraceptive are 12 per cent less likely to die compared with those who never have."

Photo: iStock

Business Blunders of the Year

Not-at-all-silent Bob.

Not-at-all-silent Bob.

Not-at-all-silent Bob.

Movie director Kevin Smith, of Clerks and Mallrats fame, isn't shy about calling himself fat, but he takes issue when a Southwest Airlines captain ejects him from an Oakland-to-Burbank flight because his heft is a "safety risk." Not appeased by the airline's offer of a $100 flight credit and a seat on the next flight, Smith fires off 50 tweets in a single day to his 1.6 million followers, giving the usually well regarded airline a torrent of bad PR.

Photo: Twitter

Business Blunders of the Year

Netherlands. Porn. Browser sniffing. Sometimes this stuff just writes itself.

Netherlands. Porn. Browser sniffing. Sometimes this stuff just writes itself.

Netherlands. Porn. Browser sniffing. Sometimes this stuff just writes itself.

Midstream Media International, N.V., the Netherlands-based owner of a post-your-own adult video site called YouPorn, is sued by users in California seeking class-action status. An academic paper exposes the site as the most heavily trafficked of 46 websites engaged in the practice of "browser sniffing," or surreptitiously checking what other sites a user has visited to better target advertising.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

And don't even get me started on Der Führer's Home Companion.

And don't even get me started on <em>Der Führer's Home Companion.</em>

After National Public Radio fires commentator (and Fox News pundit) Juan Williams in the wake of Williams' remarks about fearing airline passengers wearing Muslim attire, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes says of NPR officials, "They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism."

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

Don't worry: We hear the Tribune Company is hiring.

Don't worry: We hear the Tribune Company is hiring.

Don't worry: We hear the Tribune Company is hiring.

Hewlett-Packard fires CEO Mark Hurd after discovering that he had falsified expense reports by removing from them the name of Jodie Fisher, a former HP contractor who had filed complaints of sexual harassment with the company's board of directors. Fisher, who posed for Playboy as a college student and later starred in such soft-core adult films as Intimate Obsession, Blood Dolls, and Body of Influence 2, had been employed by HP's marketing division as a "greeter" to help run interference for Hurd at meetings with the company's top customers.

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

At least they didn't say it tastes like chicken.

At least they didn't say it tastes like chicken.

At least they didn't say it tastes like chicken.

A television commercial sponsored by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers points out that the toxic contents of oil-sands tailing ponds, left over after extracting oil-containing bitumen from sand, are "essentially like yogurt." It neglects to point out that an Alberta oil-sands operation called Syncrude had just been hit with a $2.92 million fine for causing the deaths of 1,603 migrating ducks that had landed on one of the company's ponds.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Dispenser: rxb

Business Blunders of the Year

Hmmm ... are you sure the nose is the real choking hazard here?

Hmmm ... are you sure the nose is the real choking hazard here?

Hmmm ... are you sure the nose is the real choking hazard here?

The Mall of America recalls a line of Sandy the Squirrel plush toys, sold exclusively at stores in its Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park, because "young children can remove and ingest the squirrel's nose, which poses a choking hazard."

Photo: US Recall News

Business Blunders of the Year

That wasn't fair use. But this is.

That wasn't fair use. But this is.

That wasn't fair use. But this is.

Cooks Source magazine says it may have to shut down after plagiarism accusations cause an online firestorm in November. The trouble begins when freelance writer Monica Gaudio complains that a blog post she'd written five years earlier had been published in the magazine nearly word-for-word. Unrepentant, Cooks Source editor Judith Griggs—asserting her belief that everything on the Web is in the public domain and hence fair use—responds with a note in which she insults Gaudio's prose and suggests the writer should pay her for editing the article. Ungrateful, Gaudio reprints the note on her blog. Soon her indignant supporters swarm the magazine's Facebook page, begin pressuring its advertisers, and unearth more material that appears to have been lifted from the likes of the Food Network, Martha Stewart, Weight Watchers, and NPR.

This image was stolen and manipulated from the internet

Business Blunders of the Year

Plans for the Bimbo Bank & Trust are quickly put on hold.

Plans for the Bimbo Bank & Trust are quickly put on hold.

Plans for the Bimbo Bank & Trust are quickly put on hold.

Just 19 days after its launch, Minnesota's University National Bank pulls the prepaid debit "Kardashian Kard"—stamped with a photo of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe, stars of the cable reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians—off the market. Criticized for exorbitant hidden fees and having drawn only 250 customers, the card is heralded by Bill Hardekopf, coauthor of The Credit Card Guidebook, as "one of the worst financial products ever introduced."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

And there's a 5 percent raise for anyone who gets a Brazilian.

And there's a 5 percent raise for anyone who gets a Brazilian.

And there's a 5 percent raise for anyone who gets a Brazilian.

As part of its energy-saving "Cool Biz" campaign, designed to reduce the use of air-conditioning in offices in the summer months, officials in the Japanese city of Isesaki enact a ban forbidding municipal employees from having facial hair.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestl

N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé's whines the very best.

N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé's whines the very best.

Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé finds itself in environmentalists' crosshairs after Greenpeace UK posts a graphic YouTube video about the impact of Nestlé's palm oil production on endangered orangutans. Showing an appalling lack of social-media savvy, if not maturity, Nestlé gets YouTube to pull the video over copyright issues, to which Greenpeace supporters respond by giving Nestlé's Facebook page some real copyright issues, including a Kit-Kat logo redesigned to spell the word "Killer." Nestlé continues to rattle its copyright saber ("Please don't post using an altered version of any of our logos … they will be deleted") and attempts to shout down its Facebook "fans" with snide remarks, but is soon overwhelmed by a deluge of bad press. The company apologizes for its "rude" behavior and two months later announces it will change its source for palm oil.

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Business Blunders of the Year

Not as scary as the fat content of a Happy Meal, but still scary.

Not as scary as the fat content of a Happy Meal, but still scary.

Not as scary as the fat content of a Happy Meal, but still scary.

McDonald's announces the recall of 12 million Shrek Forever After 3D drinking glasses after it is determined that their designs—images of movie characters Shrek, Fiona, Puss 'n' Boots, and Donkey—contain cadmium, a carcinogen that damages kidneys and bones and may also affect the brain function of children.



Photo: renaissancechambara

Business Blunders of the Year

The manufacturers have no heart, and the retailers have no brain?

The manufacturers have no heart, and the retailers have no brain?

The manufacturers have no heart, and the retailers have no brain?

In the wake of the McDonald's recall, the Associated Press commissions its own tests and finds high levels of both lead and cadmium in drinking glasses sold by companies including Time Warner, Coca-Cola, Burger King, and Disney. Decorative enamel on Warner Bros. glasses depicting characters from the Wizard of Oz, among others, contained 500 to 1,000 times the allowable levels of lead for children's products; a red Coke glass ordered from the Coca-Cola website shed three times more cadmium than the recalled Shrek glasses.

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Business Blunders of the Year

Or you could just rename the country.

Or you could just rename the country.

Or you could just rename the country.

Gregorio Iñiguez, general manager of the Chilean mint, is fired after it's discovered that he had overseen production of a run of 50-peso coins with the nation's name spelled "C-H-I-I-E." Astonishingly, the coins had reportedly been seen and approved by numerous officials and had actually been in circulation since 2008.

Photo: adanisherrorcollector

Business Blunders of the Year

That's probably not going to help with those sales targets.

That's probably not going to help with those sales targets.

That's probably not going to help with those sales targets.

Nine months after buying Segway—maker of an electric scooter once hailed by business luminaries as a more important invention than the Internet, around which entire cities would be designed—British multimillionaire Jimi Heselden is killed when he launches his Segway off an 80-foot cliff into Yorkshire's River Wharfe. Despite early sales projections of 50,000 to 100,000 units per year, analysts say about that many have been sold altogether since the product's 2001 debut.

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Business Blunders of the Year

And what is it you have to explain to Grandma about cleavage?

And what is it you have to explain to Grandma about cleavage?

And what is it you have to explain to Grandma about cleavage?

Lamar Advertising, which in 2009 gained notoriety for rejecting a billboard from an atheist group while accepting one from an escort service, further muddies its censorship guidelines by pulling a bus-shelter ad for the off-Broadway musical "Avenue Q." The boundary crossed? Excessive puppet cleavage. Explains Lamar account executive Jeff Moore, "If I have to explain it to my 4-year-old or my grandmother, we don't put it up."

Photo: gazette.com

Business Blunders of the Year

And the Emmy for shameless groveling goes to…

And the Emmy for shameless groveling goes to…

And the Emmy for shameless groveling goes to…

After the first episode of new Fox TV series Lone Star airs to scathing reviews and "disastrously low" ratings, series creator Kyle Killen writes a blog post urging fans to tell friends to watch: "I'm not going to beg. I'll mow your lawn or offer you some sort of sensual massage, but I won't beg." Fox cancels the show just one week later, ranking it among the fastest failures in prime-time television history.

Photo: FOX (via Wikipedia)

Business Blunders of the Year

We have a deep, abiding respect for our prey.

We have a deep, abiding respect for our prey.

We have a deep, abiding respect for our prey.

Heineken airs a TV spot in which a man trolling a wedding reception bears in on an attractive female as the narrator describes "two types of tigers—one who goes straight to the prey and one who makes the prey surrender to him." Eventually, after prey nationwide strenuously object to the ad, the company crudely dubs the word "prize" over "prey."

Photo: Youtube

Business Blunders of the Year

In?sid?er in-'s?-d?r n (1848) : one who knows nothing about a subject he's paid to know?

In?sid?er in-'s?-d?r n (1848) : one who knows nothing about a subject he's paid to know?

In?sid?er in-'s?-d?r n (1848) : one who knows nothing about a subject he's paid to know?

Nicholas Carlson, a staff writer at BusinessInsider.com, introduces his audience to a man he believes is an obscure figure in the business world: Peter Drucker, a.k.a. the father of modern management theory. "You're asking: Who?" writes Carlson. "We were too, so we looked Drucker up on Wikipedia." Hours later, Carlson updates his post: "Apparently I am the only person on the planet who hadn't heard of Peter Drucker before researching this article. And this offends people. Sorry world."

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Business Blunders of the Year

Make us the same deal and we might actually buy a GM car.

Make us the same deal and we might actually buy a GM car.

Make us the same deal and we might actually buy a GM car.

A year and a half after filing for bankruptcy protection, General Motors revs back to life in November with a $23.1 billion stock offering, the largest IPO in history. Critics note, however, that the deal would have been far less attractive without some helpful interference by the company's majority shareholder, the U.S. Treasury, which had allowed GM to carry forward $16 billion in operating losses that normally would have been wiped out by the bankruptcy method used to fast-track the sale of the company's assets. The result is a whopping tax write-off not available to other corporations since Congress closed this loophole 30 years ago.

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Business Blunders of the Year

Wait, when did the Tribune Company buy KFC?

Wait, when did the Tribune Company buy KFC?

Wait, when did the Tribune Company buy KFC?

To encourage college students to try its new bunless chicken sandwich, KFC gives young women the opportunity to become "human billboards," offering $500 to comely co-eds willing to wear sweat pants with the Double Down brand emblazoned on their derrieres.

Photo: adfreak.com

Business Blunders of the Year

First we tried "pretty please." But when that didn't work …

First we tried "pretty please." But when that didn't work …

First we tried

About 11,000 former customers of Bally Total Fitness in Texas receive "Past Due" notices in the mail, complete with warnings that their credit may be affected if they don't pay up. More than 1,000 do, even though, according to the Texas Attorney General, they actually owed nothing and were being deceived. Bally denies the allegations, but settles the case in August by agreeing to refund all the money paid by customers who were overbilled.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Now we can watch grainy versions of crappy old movies!

Now we can watch grainy versions of crappy old movies!

Now we can watch grainy versions of crappy old movies!

A Netflix press conference to announce the launch of its streaming-video service in Canada shuts down a Toronto city block as excited onlookers spill into the street … or so it seems, until the press gets hold of an instruction sheet that had been given out to extras who'd been paid to be there. The handout instructs the actors to "play types, for example, mothers, film buffs, tech geeks, couch potatoes, etc." and explains that "extras are to look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada."

Photo Illustration: BNET

Photo: Getty Images

Business Blunders of the Year

If only Helga had been able to resist that last bite of lutefisk …

If only Helga had been able to resist that last bite of lutefisk …

If only Helga had been able to resist that last bite of lutefisk …

As 20 would-be dieters in Vaxjo, Sweden, line up for their weekly weigh-in, the floor of their Weight Watchers clinic begins to collapse, first in a corner, then along the walls, then all across the room. The participants are uninjured and complete their date with the scale in an undamaged hallway.

Photo Illustration: BNET

Business Blunders of the Year

Hey, at least we didn't break into your house.

Hey, at least we didn'
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