Business Blunders of the Year

Introducing the B-List: The 77 stupidest managerial moves and worst business blunders of 2009.

Introducing the B-List: The 77 stupidest managerial moves and worst business blunders of 2009.

By Adam Horowitz and David Jacobson

To reach the pinnacle of the business world — the A List, as it were — you need some combination of intelligence, savvy, dedication, desire, and good fortune. Landing on the B List, however, is another matter altogether.

The companies, managers, leaders, and executives who've earned a place on BNET's dishonor roll are instead marked by their penchant for deadly and a-little-less-deadly sins: stupidity, greed, hubris, pride, rotten timing, and buzzards' luck. Think of theirs as cautionary tales, educational in the same way that touching an electric fence teaches you … well, not to touch an electric fence.

Tempted to skimp on customer service? Bzzt. Planning to rationalize your oversized paycheck as the will of God? Bzzzzzt! Thinking about skipping the sad, shocking, and riotously funny examples of business buffoonery you'll find a mere mouse-click away? BZZZZT!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: See BNET's batch of blunders for 2010 here.

Business Blunders of the Year

1) You mean people are, like, talking about stuff on the Internet?

1) You mean people are, like, talking about stuff on the Internet?

Two Domino's Pizza workers post a video on YouTube featuring one of them stuffing cheese up his nose and passing gas on salami before putting both on a sandwich. Within days, the video gets 1 million hits and dominates Google search results for "Dominos," flipping perception of the chain's food quality from positive to negative, according to consumer-research firm YouGov. Though the company eventually posts a response from the CEO on YouTube, Domino's spokesman Tim McIntyre admits executives failed to respond aggressively in hopes that the problem would blow over, telling The New York Times, "What we missed was the perpetual mushroom effect of viral sensations."

Business Blunders of the Year

2) Sadly, he was also unable to extend the digit he most wanted to proffer.

2) Sadly, he was also unable to extend the digit he most wanted to proffer.

A Tampa Bank of America branch refused to cash a check for Steve Valdez, who was born without arms and wears a pair of prosthetic devices, because he is unable provide a thumbprint — even though the check is drawn on his wife's account and Valdez presents two forms of identification. A spokeswoman later says the company apologized to Valdez and "should have offered alternative requirements."

Business Blunders of the Year

3) Using the same criteria, your marketing folks also seem pretty darn "smart."

3) Using the same criteria, your marketing folks also seem pretty darn

In August, 14 of the country's largest food companies — including PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Kraft, and General Mills — join forces to launch a multimillion-dollar food-labeling program, dubbed "Smart Choices," to guide consumers in selecting nutritious foods amid the nation's obesity epidemic. Soon, however, the program's green checkmark logo is seen popping up on jars of fat-laden mayonnaise and boxes of Froot Loops cereal, a product that lists sugar as its top ingredient. In October, after the FDA announces plans to crack down on misleading labeling, the program is voluntarily halted.

(AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels)

Business Blunders of the Year

4) Don't worry, it'll be fine: Nobody listens to Oprah anyway.

4) Don't worry, it'll be fine: Nobody listens to Oprah anyway.

KFC promotes its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken by having Oprah Winfrey tout a coupon for a free meal on her show. The promotion goes the way you'd expect anything mentioned on Oprah to go: Viewers run to their computers, download more than 10 million coupons, and head to KFC in droves. Mobbed stores run out of chicken and turn customers away empty-handed, leading Advertising Age to call the promotion "one of the all-time blunders" and company president Roger Eaton to post a mea culpa video on YouTube.

Business Blunders of the Year

5) Let's build a planet where employees outsource themselves!

5) Let's build a planet where employees outsource themselves!

IBM lays off thousands of North American workers, and then gives them the opportunity to apply for similar jobs in countries such as Brazil, India, Nigeria, and Slovenia — if they're "willing to work on local terms and conditions." Big Blue magnanimously offers to help with moving costs and provide visa assistance.

Business Blunders of the Year

6) That'll teach you to hire those ungrateful, no-good union workers.

6) That'll teach you to hire those ungrateful, no-good union workers.

The powerful, 1.7-million-member Service Employees International Union announces a layoff involving 75 national field staffers and organizers. The union representing those employees, the Union of Union Representatives, quickly files a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the SEIU of engaging in unfair practices such as unilaterally laying off UUR members without proper notice, outsourcing their jobs to non-union workers, and selecting workers for layoffs "because of their [UUR] membership and/or activities."

(Photo courtesy of the Center for Union facts.)

Business Blunders of the Year

7) Also, the launches of Speedy Dellito, Dellizzle Fo'shizzle, and Dellstein's Deli have been canceled.

7) Also, the launches of Speedy Dellito, Dellizzle Fo'shizzle, and Dellstein's Deli have been canceled.

In May, computer maker Dell launches "Della," a pastel-hued Web site featuring images of women using laptops that match their outfits, a video on shopping for vintage clothing, and "Tech Tips" that include advice on "finding recipes" and "counting calories." The site is quickly revamped with less pink and more real technology advice, but the changes aren't enough to stem the cries of sexism and the viral cascade of derision: Dell pulls the plug just 10 days after the site's launch.

Business Blunders of the Year

8) Because nothing says "Spa Fantasy" like a nice, relaxing explosion.

8) Because nothing says

JAKKS Pacific, maker of a line of spa and beauty products for adolescent girls, recalls more than half a million jars sold as part of its Spa Fantasy Aromatherapy Fountain and Bath Benefits kits. The jars, used to make presumably soothing "Bath Bombs" and "Bath Fizzies," are not properly vented, "posing explosion and projectile hazards" as carbon dioxide builds up within. Dozens of exploding jars and 13 injuries are reported.

Business Blunders of the Year

9) Buy the bloody car, you git, or I'll smash your sodding skull!

9) Buy the bloody car, you git, or I'll smash your sodding skull!

In September, Toyota and its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, are sued for $10 million by a Los Angeles woman who says she was terrorized by a Web campaign for the Toyota Matrix. A video promoting the campaign features a group of "maniacs" and offers people the chance to "prank" a friend: "It's easy. Tell us a little about them, then pick one of our maniacs to mess with their heads — through personalized texts, email, calls, video — for 5 straight days." The woman, Amber Duick, says she received a series of e-mails from "Sebastian," a British soccer hooligan on the run from police who planned to "hide out" at her house with his pit bull. Duick claims the "terror marketing campaign" left her "constantly in tears and shaking and sobbing in emotional distress," unable to eat, work, or sleep.

Business Blunders of the Year

10) Of course, at -98.95%, this still qualifies as a great ROI for the Detroit metro area…

10) Of course, at -98.95%, this still qualifies as a great ROI for the Detroit metro area…

After spending $55.7 million in 1975 to build the Silverdome as home to the NFL's Detroit Lions, the city of Pontiac, Mich., decides to sell the 80,000-seat stadium in the wake of the team's departure in 2002. The city reportedly turns down multiple offers ranging from $17 million to $22 million, ultimately deciding to put the facility up for auction. In November the winning bid is announced: Toronto developer Triple Properties is awarded the property for $583,000, or less than the asking price of a 3,300-square-foot home in the nearby suburb of Bloomfield Hills.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Business Blunders of the Year

11) In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Discretionary Year-End Bonus.

11) In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Discretionary Year-End Bonus.

Amid hue and cry over the huge profits his company is reaping just a year receiving federal bailout funds, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein defends the role of the humble investment banker, telling the London Times he's "doing God's work." A week later, by way of amends, Goldman announces a five-year, $500 million program to aid 10,000 small businesses. The firm's critics are not impressed, noting that this represents just 3 percent of the employee bonus pool set aside for the first nine months of 2009 alone.

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ganbari)

Business Blunders of the Year

12) If you're a pathetic loser leeching from your countrymen, click here.

12) If you're a pathetic loser leeching from your countrymen, click here.

In July, jobless citizens seeking benefit information from the Web site of the Brazilian Labor Ministry must type in the passwords "shameless" and "bum" to access the relevant details. The ministry blames the prank on a private Internet security firm whose contract with the government had not been renewed.

Business Blunders of the Year

13) You, too, can make $56k/year without ever leaving the privacy of your grave!

13) You, too, can make $56k/year without ever leaving the privacy of your grave!

Satellite-TV reseller MyDishBiz.com posts a testimonial from "Frank & Mary, NY," presumably satisfied customers who "made $1080 THIS WEEK ALONE" from their affiliation with the site. It is soon revealed that these profits are unlikely, given that the accompanying photograph had been lifted from an online memorial to a pair of Welsh newlyweds who'd been murdered during their honeymoon in Antigua a year earlier. The company apologizes and insists it didn't "knowingly include the picture of the deceased" on the Web site.

Business Blunders of the Year

14) The world according to TARP.

14) The world according to TARP.

Even as Citigroup swirls its way to a $45 billion bailout, commodities-trading subsidiary PhiBro earns its keep, making the bank about $2 billion over the last five years. But these days, such profits can pose problems, since this means Citi owes PhiBro's star trader, Andrew Hall, a bonus of nearly $100 million. With the Treasury Department now required to sign off on such largess, Citi faces political pressure to dump PhiBro. In October it's sold to Occidental Petroleum for what The Wall Street Journal calls "a bargain-basement price."

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Business Blunders of the Year

15) You can't make this stuff up. Um, on second thought…

15) You can't make this stuff up. Um, on second thought…

In July, Amazon.com discovers that a company that did not own the rights has improperly added some books to the online store for its Kindle digital reader. To fix the problem, the company removes the books from the store — a move that also causes them to vanish from the Kindles of anyone who'd purchased them. The works in question? Two books by George Orwell, including 1984, in which a technologically advanced totalitarian state routinely erases history with the aid of a document-incinerating "memory hole."

Business Blunders of the Year

16) We beat the competition ... and each other.

16) We beat the competition ... and each other.

In early October, a heated exchange between the cabin crew and pilots of an Air India flight with 106 passengers aboard breaks into a full-fledged fistfight in the main cabin. The flight attendants claim a male purser was defending a female colleague who'd been sexually harassed by the cockpit crew. Air India disputes reports that the cockpit may at some point have been left unattended; asserts an airline spokesman: "At no stage was safety compromised."

Business Blunders of the Year

17) At no stage was safety compromised…well, you know, except for the growing likelihood of being blasted out of the sky by a Sidewinder missile

17) At no stage was safety compromised…well, you know, except for the growing likelihood of being blasted out of the sky by a Sidewinder missile

In late October, a Northwest Airlines flight carrying 144 passengers from San Diego to Minneapolis fails to respond to air traffic controllers for more than an hour and overshoots its destination by 150 miles. The military is alerted and fighter jets are readied to respond to a potential 9/11-style threat. Are the pilots asleep? Drunk? Sniffing glue? Nope. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the two had pulled out their laptops and lost themselves in the complexities of a new crew-scheduling system installed in the wake of Northwest's merger with Delta.

(AP Photo/Stacie McChesney)

Business Blunders of the Year

18) Live! One Night Only! It's Micheal Jordun!

18) Live! One Night Only! It's Micheal Jordun!

Brandt Andersen, owner of the NBA Developmental League's Utah Flash, hires a Michael Jordan lookalike to appear around town and implies that his team's season opener will feature a one-on-one charity grudge match between Jordan and former Utah Jazz guard Bryon Russell, whom the NBA legend had trashed in his recent Hall of Fame induction speech. More than 7,500 fans show up — then boo and storm out of the arena when the imposter takes the court at halftime. Andersen apologizes and offers fans who felt misled free tickets to a future game.

Business Blunders of the Year

19) World peace. Cure for cancer. Left-handed underpants.

19) World peace. Cure for cancer. Left-handed underpants.

"Switching the opening from vertical to horizontal may sound like a small step, but it's the major breakthrough that many have been waiting for." — Rob Faucherand, spokesman for British department-store chain Debenhams, on the debut of a new line of tighty-whiteys designed to make life at the urinal easier for southpaws. Faucherand goes on to call the briefs "a vital step toward equality," given that, heretofore, "left-handed men have to reach much further into their pants."

Business Blunders of the Year

20) Her corporate Intranet passwords? We're guessing "shameless" and "bum."

20) Her corporate Intranet passwords? We're guessing

After a couple hit by the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme is forced to surrender its $12 million beachfront home in Malibu, Calif., to Wells Fargo, neighbors notice something odd: a large party being thrown in the presumably vacant house. After an investigation, Wells Fargo admits that the house was being used by an employee, identified by the Los Angeles Times as Cheronda Guyton, a senior vice president in charge of foreclosed commercial properties. The employee, who neighbors say had been spending weekends at the house with her family, is fired for violating bank rules against personal use of bank-owned property.

(Photo copyright (c) 2002-2010 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman, Calfornia Coastal Records Project)

Business Blunders of the Year

21) Talk about a Type-A managerial style…

21) Talk about a Type-A managerial style…

In June, R. Allen Stanford and top officials of Houston-based Stanford Financial Group are indicted on charges of defrauding billions of dollars from tens of thousands investors who thought they were buying high-yielding CDs from the company's bank on Antigua. In an August plea deal, the company's CFO says Stanford was able to avoid oversight by the Caribbean island's top banking regulator thanks not only to regular bribes, but also because the two had sliced their wrists and mixed blood in a 2003 brotherhood ceremony.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Business Blunders of the Year

22) Maybe you'd have better luck if you were a PowerSeller.

22) Maybe you'd have better luck if you were a PowerSeller.

Two years after buying Web site-recommendation service StumbleUpon for $75 million, online-auction giant eBay sells the site back to its founders for an undisclosed sum rumored to be significantly less than it paid. Five months later, eBay sells a controlling interest in Internet calling service Skype in a deal valued at $2.75 billion, or $350 million less than it paid to acquire the company in 2005.

Business Blunders of the Year

23) Warning: This product is exactly what it looks like.

23) Warning: This product is exactly what it looks like.

Spencer Gifts recalls more than 8,000 skull-and-crossbones necklaces. The pendants, which look identical to the international symbol for poison, contain potentially toxic levels of lead.

Business Blunders of the Year

24) Just Do It?

24) Just Do It?

Thanks to a late-night car wreck and subsequent revelations of marital infidelity, Tiger Woods brand manager Tiger Woods manages to irreparably tarnish the Tiger Woods brand. He is dropped as a pitchman by Accenture and AT&T, and a study by two economics professors at the University of California–Davis estimates that shareholders of companies that sponsor the golfer will lose as much as $12 billion as the result of his confessed "transgressions."

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Business Blunders of the Year

25) Also, we suggest you stop using words that begin with the letters "A," "I," or "G."

25) Also, we suggest you stop using words that begin with the letters

In March, with the public seething over the size of federal bailouts paid to AIG and the bonuses paid to its executives, the insurance giant circulates a memo to employees advising that they avoid wearing any apparel with the AIG insignia, hide their employee badges when leaving the office, and refrain from mentioning their employer in public conversations.

Business Blunders of the Year

26) Hey, Lou Dobbs needed something to wear out trick-or-treating.

26) Hey, Lou Dobbs needed <i>something</i> to wear out trick-or-treating.

In October, major retailers including Target, Walgreens, Toys R Us, and Amazon.com begin selling a new Halloween ensemble: a space-creature mask, a plastic "green card," and an orange detention-center jumpsuit with the words "Illegal Alien" emblazoned across the front. The companies stop selling the costume after complaints from Hispanic groups.

(AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

Business Blunders of the Year

27) Meet our new VP of Risk Management, Meph I. Stopheles.

27) Meet our new VP of Risk Management, Meph I. Stopheles.

Latvia's Kontora Loan Company begins offering high-interest loans of up to $500. The loans require no income verification but a rather novel form of collateral: the borrower's "immortal soul."

Business Blunders of the Year

28) iNfanticide.

28) iNfanticide.

During the same week in April that Apple reaches 1 billion downloads of the company-vetted offerings at its iTunes App Store, a new iPhone app goes live. Called "Baby Shaker," it features drawings of adorable infants who cry until a sharp shake of the handset abruptly silences them, red Xs covering their eyes. Within 48 hours, angry calls from child welfare groups prompt Apple to drop the app.

Business Blunders of the Year

29) Have it their way.

29) Have it their way.

After its franchisees twice reject its proposal for a $1 double-cheeseburger promotion, Burger King Holdings begins advertising the promotion anyway, leaving its operators little choice but to honor the offer. In November, the National Franchisee Association — which represents about 80 percent of the chain's U.S. outlets — files suit, claiming that the central office does not have the right to set maximum prices and that the promotion is forcing them to lose 10 cents or more on each sale.

Business Blunders of the Year

30) Most 15-year-old boys and about 75 percent of Comic-Con attendees strongly disagree.

30) Most 15-year-old boys and about 75 percent of Comic-Con attendees strongly disagree.

In May, the conglomerate founded by Richard Branson attempts to dispel rumors that it's interested in purchasing the media empire founded by Hugh Hefner. Actual headline run on The Washington Post's Web site: "Virgin Denies Interest in Playboy."

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Business Blunders of the Year

31) Cash for Coughers

31) Cash for Coughers

In March, officials in Gong'an, China, seek to boost the region's economy by ordering teachers and civil servants to smoke their way through 230,000 packs of locally produced Hubei cigarettes. The government assigns consumption quotas and threatens those who don't smoke enough with fines or even the loss of their job. Two months later, after some haranguing from health nuts — who point out that a million Chinese die from smoking-related illnesses each year — the edict is rescinded.

Business Blunders of the Year

32) How many Polish Microsoft employees does it take to change a photo?

32) How many Polish Microsoft employees does it take to change a photo?

In August, Microsoft creates an online ad depicting three colleagues — one Asian, one Caucasian, and one African-American — happily gathered around a conference table full of computers. But when the same ad runs in Poland, the black man's head — but not his hand — is awkwardly swapped with a white guy's. Insists a Microsoft spokeswoman in Poland: "We are a multiracial company, and there isn't a chance any of us are racist."

Business Blunders of the Year

33) Say, when did Microsoft Poland win the Ralph Lauren account?

33) Say, when did Microsoft Poland win the Ralph Lauren account?

In October, a Japanese ad for Ralph Lauren's Blue Label jeans feature a model whose image has been altered so that her head is wider than her waist. Concedes a Lauren spokesman, "After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman's body." The publicity draws attention to the model, Lauren veteran Filippa Hamilton, a 5-foot-10, 120-pound size 4 who claims she was fired in April for being "overweight."

Business Blunders of the Year

34) What's the problem? We promised you stimulus, we gave you stimulus…

34) What's the problem? We promised you stimulus, we gave you stimulus…

"Hey there, hot stuff. I've been waiting for your call. Are you ready for some tantalizing fun?" — Recorded greeting heard by lobstermen calling for information on a financial stimulus program offered by Canada's Department of Fisheries. Attempting to provide assistance to those struggling to make ends meet in light of sagging demand for the expensive crustaceans, the department publishes the wrong number for its hotline both online and in a press release, accidentally directing callers to a phone-sex service.

Business Blunders of the Year

35) The bad news is we're filing for Chapter 11. The good news is we're officially a nuclear superpower!

35) The bad news is we're filing for Chapter 11. The good news is we're officially a nuclear superpower!

One month before the firm crumbles under the weight of bad debt, traders at Lehman Brothers make yet another bet that fails to pay off: a futures contract for a half-million pounds of yellowcake uranium — enough of the commodity, once enriched, to make a nuclear bomb. According to a report by Bloomberg in April, the bankrupt company's unprofitable stockpile, worth about $20 million after a 38 percent drop in the price of uranium, languishes in storage while awaiting a bounce in the market. Says Lehman CEO Bryan Marsal, appointed to salvage value for creditors: "We are not dumping this on the market and have no fire-sale mentality."

Business Blunders of the Year

36) Market Timing 101.

36) Market Timing 101.

In April, How Harvard and Yale Beat the Market: What Individual Investors Can Learn From the Investment Strategies of the Most Successful University Endowments hits bookstore shelves across the nation — just as those schools' endowments are racking up losses about 50 percent greater than the median among large university funds. Two months earlier, Harvard had frozen faculty salaries and announced that it would lay off a quarter of its money-management staff.

Business Blunders of the Year

37) Sure hope they're covered for that…

37) Sure hope they're covered for that…

State Farm Insurance recalls more than 800,000 "Good Neigh Bear" teddy bears used by agents as a promotional giveaway after an 18-month-old girl in Texas swallows a plastic eye. Though the child is not seriously injured, the Chinese-made plush toys are deemed a choking hazard.

Business Blunders of the Year

38) We suspect the Microsoft Poland-DDB Brazil merger will be announced any day now.

38) We suspect the Microsoft Poland-DDB Brazil merger will be announced any day now.

The World Wildlife Fund runs an ad in a Brazilian newspaper depicting dozens of commercial airliners descending on the Manhattan skyline, accompanied by copy that reads: "The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it." The ad is quickly pulled, but not before the agency that created it, DDB Brazil, submits it and an even more horrifying video version to industry groups worldwide for award consideration. Ironically, the campaign is given a "merit award" for public service by New York's One Club.

Business Blunders of the Year

39) The $20 baggage fee? That was for taking your luggage. We didn't say anything about delivering it unharmed…

39) The $20 baggage fee? That was for <i>taking</i> your luggage. We didn't say anything about delivering it unharmed…

While waiting for his United Airlines flight to take off, Canadian folksinger Dave Carroll looks out the window and sees baggage handlers hurling his band's guitars like so much Samsonite. Sure enough, upon arrival he finds that a $3,500 instrument has been damaged. In July, after months of waiting for the airline to reimburse him, he decides to write a song called "United Breaks Guitars." The airline squares up when the song reaches 1 million hits on YouTube.

Business Blunders of the Year

40) …or delivering it at all, for that matter.

40) …or delivering it at all, for that matter.

In October, Carroll gives United Airlines another chance, flying the carrier en route to his appearance as a keynote speaker at a customer service conference. The airline loses his luggage for three days.

Business Blunders of the Year

41) Would you care for coleslaw, potato salad, or maltodextrin crisps?

41) Would you care for coleslaw, potato salad, or maltodextrin crisps?

Procter & Gamble is dealt a $160 million blow in May when Britain's Supreme Court of Judicature reverses a lower court's ruling and declares that the company's Pringles brand of what we all believed to be potato chips are, legally speaking, potato chips. In an attempt to avoid paying VAT on the product, P&G had argued that Pringles aren't potato chips because they are only 42 percent potato — helpfully pointing out to consumers that the product is 58 percent oil, wheat starch, maltodextrin, salt, rice flour, and dextrose.

Business Blunders of the Year

42) Imagine no hypocrisy.

42) Imagine no hypocrisy.

"We allow anyone to advertise with us, as long as the copy on the billboard is in good taste." — Louise Betancourt, spokesperson for Lamar Advertising in Texas, in July, after the company sells billboard space to escort service MyPlayBunny.com. A few weeks earlier Lamar had declined to sell space to an Alabama atheist group wanting to post an ad that said "Imagine No Religion."

Business Blunders of the Year

43) Terror alert level: greenish-brown.

43) Terror alert level: greenish-brown.

In May, 325 workers at an AT&T call center in San Jose are evacuated and seven are hospitalized after an employee attempts to clean out a communal refrigerator. Noxious fumes from the combination of past-their-prime lunches and cleaning supplies bring out 18 emergency vehicles, 50 firefighters, and a hazmat team.

Business Blunders of the Year

44) Guess a massive stockpile of yellowcake uranium isn't the bargaining chip it used to be.

44) Guess a massive stockpile of yellowcake uranium isn't the bargaining chip it used to be.

In June, nine months after selling its brokerage business to Barclays for $1.54 billion, liquidating investment bank Lehman Brothers asks a judge to let it pay $5.9 million to buy back the computers, desks, tables, chairs, and security equipment it is still using in a New York office — furniture that Barclays claims to own as a result of the earlier transaction. A month earlier, Bloomberg reports, Lehman had come out on the wrong side of a similar legal tussle, with Barclays winning the right to walk out of another Lehman office in Manhattan with 150 chairs.

Business Blunders of the Year

45) We're no longer sure whether the vehicle's name refers to its shape or to its driver.

45) We're no longer sure whether the vehicle's name refers to its shape or to its driver.

In July, the operator of one of Kraft Foods' seven Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles tries to turn the car around using the driveway of a house in Mount Pleasant, Wisc. Conflicting reports say that the driver either hit the gas pedal instead of the brake or thought the transmission was in reverse when it was really in drive. Not in dispute, however, is the result: The 23-foot-long sausage slams into the house, damaging a deck, the garage door, and part of the foundation.

Business Blunders of the Year

46) But really, who pushes a panic button only once?

46) But really, who pushes a panic button only once?

Honeywell International recalls about 7,000 home-security-system control panels because the wireless silent panic feature can fail to operate the first time the remote transmitter's button is pressed. "If the panic button is pressed only once," the recall notice notes, "this can unexpectedly leave residents without a triggered alarm."

Business Blunders of the Year

47) And you thought Simon Cowell was a jerk.

47) And you thought Simon Cowell was a jerk.

In October, police in Manaus, Brazil, arrest reality-TV host Wallace Souza on drug-trafficking and firearms-possession charges. Additionally, some officials allege that Souza has been ordering hits on rival gangs and then having his camera crews beat cops to the scene to capture graphic footage for his Canal Livre crime show. The killings "appear to have been committed to get rid of his rivals and increase the audience of the TV show," says state police intelligence chief Thomaz Vasconcelos. Souza insists his crews were simply good reporters.

Business Blunders of the Year

48) Which explains why the words "shameless" and "bums" were nowhere to be found.

48) Which explains why the words

In January, a salmonella outbreak that eventually sickens more than 700 people in 46 states, contributing to as many as eight deaths, is traced to a Georgia plant of the Peanut Corporation of America. Federal inspectors find the place rife with roaches, mold, and other unsanitary conditions; the FDA later alleges that the company had knowingly shipped peanut products that had tested positive for salmonella at least 12 times over the past two years. But even after launching a criminal investigation against PCA, the government still must rely on the company to voluntarily announce a recall of potentially tainted products, with the wording of the statement to be drafted by PCA itself.

(AP Photo/Ric Feld)

Business Blunders of the Year

49) For that kind of money, the Pentagon almost could've bought a copy of Photoshop.

49) For that kind of money, the Pentagon almost could've bought a copy of Photoshop.

In April, a low-flying 747, trailed by an F-16 fighter, spends a half-hour swooping over the southern tip of Manhattan, sowing panic in a citizenry traumatized by memories of 9/11 and causing the evacuation of thousands office workers—all in an attempt to capture promotional images of Air Force One flying by the Statue of Liberty. The stunt costs taxpayers $328,835 and Louis Caldera, the director of the White House military office, his job.

(AP Photo/Jason McLane)

Business Blunders of the Year

50) Your choice of the Beggar's Banquet or Freeloader's Feast. One per groveler only.

50) Your choice of the Beggar's Banquet or Freeloader's Feast. One per groveler only.

In a campaign sensitive to the bruised egos and wounded pride of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Cici's Pizza chain drops one million specially marked pennies on sidewalks near its stores, allowing "penny picker uppers" to redeem the tokens for free food and drink.

Business Blunders of the Year

51) Like the one between right and wrong?

51) Like the one between right and wrong?

The Los Angeles Times catches flak from journalists — including about 100 of its own — when it runs an ad for the NBC police drama Southland designed to look like a news story and written from the perspective of a "reporter" who goes on patrol with officers for "a true glimpse into the hearts of the heroes behind the badge." Times staffers sign a petition accusing their employer of "violat[ing] a 128-year pact with our readers" and "mak[ing] a mockery of our integrity and journalistic standards." The paper responds with a statement saying the ad "was designed to stretch traditional boundaries."

Business Blunders of the Year

52) Yes, he told you to be more committed. No, this isn't what he meant.

52) Yes, he told you to be more committed. No, this isn't what he meant.

In November, Claudia De La Rosa is charged with making a false report of planting a bomb after she both calls and e-mails Miami International Airport in an attempt to delay an American Airlines flight to Honduras. De La Rosa reportedly tells Miami-Dade police that her boss had been running late and she hoped the threat would give him enough time to catch the flight.

Business Blunders of the Year

53) 0 + 0 = You've got to be kidding.

53) 0 + 0 = You've got to be kidding.

Bankrupt automaker GM teams up with over-hyped scooter-maker Segway to create Project P.U.M.A., a prototype for a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle with no cargo space that will travel just 35 miles between charges.

(AP Photo/Jin Lee)

Business Blunders of the Year

54) The award for worst rebranding since New Coke goes to…

54) The award for worst rebranding since New Coke goes to…

PepsiCo hires the Arnell Group to consult on a major overhaul of the company's core beverage brands. In January, it unveils redesigned packaging for the Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice line, ditching its iconic straw-in-an-orange logo for a floating-juice look that many confuse with a generic store brand. Sales immediately fall by 19 percent and the company is inundated with irate letters, causing PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi to order a return to the old packaging.

Business Blunders of the Year

55) The award for worst rebranding since Tropicana goes to…

55) The award for worst rebranding since Tropicana goes to…

The same month, PepsiCo rolls out its makeover of Gatorade, featuring artsy black-and-white commercials that ask, "What is G?" but fail to name the product, as well as redesigned bottles with prominent "G" logos that leave customers confused as to whether the liquid within is the familiar favorite or an entirely new beverage. Six months later the results are in: PepsiCo sees Gatorade sales drop 18 percent by volume for the first half of the year, with a 4 point loss in market share.

Business Blunders of the Year

56) OK, now it all makes sense.

56) OK, now it all makes sense.

In February, the Arnell Group's proposal to PepsiCo for a redesign of the Pepsi logo begins circulating online. Titled "Breathtaking," the 27-page memo compares the new logo to the earth's magnetic fields and the sun's radiation and traces its geometrical lineage back to ancient Greek and Chinese forms, with further references to proportions in the Parthenon and Mona Lisa's face. It implies that the new logo, with "brand identity Dimensionalized through Motion," increases Pepsi's "gravitational pull." For an undisclosed sum believed to be in the seven figures, Pepsi receives a moderately tweaked logo and a massive amount of mockery, with BusinessWeek saying the memo reads "like the work of a college student majoring in art and the humanities."

Business Blunders of the Year

57) #shameless #bums

57) #shameless #bums

British furniture chain Habitat gets caught adding popular search terms related to the ongoing political protests in Iran to its tweets in an attempt to boost traffic to the Twitter feed for its new spring collection. The company blames the "hashtag spam" on a rogue intern.

Business Blunders of the Year

58) Drive-thru is more glamorous, but the Fryolator gig comes with a huge signing bonus…

58) Drive-thru is more glamorous, but the Fryolator gig comes with a huge signing bonus…

In February, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he wants to spend $45 million in local, state, and federal funds to retrain investment bankers, traders, and others who lost their Wall Street jobs in the financial crisis.

Business Blunders of the Year

59) April 24: 43 rooms picked up, 43 plates of brussels sprouts eaten.

59) April 24: 43 rooms picked up, 43 plates of brussels sprouts eaten.

On April 23, otherwise known as national "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," 43 children ranging in age from five to 17 are shocked with 50,000-volt stun guns in three separate incidents at prisons run by the Florida Department of Corrections. All of the children have parents who work for the department, many of whom had given permission for their kids to be shocked.

Business Blunders of the Year

60) Nice job, Capt. Sullenberger. Now quit whining about that neck pain and get back to work!

60) Nice job, Capt. Sullenberger. Now quit whining about that neck pain and get back to work!

In yet another P.R. coup for everyone's favorite bailed-out insurance company, AIG balks at paying claims to passengers from the US Airways flight that miraculously landed in New York's Hudson River last January. According to The New York Times, the firm tells passengers with medical bills to file claims with their own health insurers — assuming they have health insurance — and limits the number of therapy sessions for passengers traumatized by their brush with death to three.

(AP Photos/ Steven Day)

Business Blunders of the Year

61) Though keep in mind that the cheese may or may not have been up somebody's nose.

61) Though keep in mind that the cheese may or may not have been up somebody's nose.

Domino's Pizza activates a free-pizza code word — "bailout" — on its Web site, but decides not to green-light the accompanying promotion. Shortly thereafter it launches an unrelated campaign, called "Pizza Big Taste Bailout," and begins promoting it heavily. An enterprising customer happens to type "bailout" into the site's coupon-code box and, bingo, free medium pie. The magic word goes viral, and Domino's hands out 11,000 freebies before deactivating the unintended offer.

Business Blunders of the Year

62) Yes, but it's also pretty damn ironic…

62) Yes, but it's also pretty damn ironic…

The S Group of Portland, Ore., recalls about 15,000 travel mugs featuring hearts, daisies, and peace symbols. The mugs — which can become excessively hot to the touch when filled with hot liquids, posing a burn hazard — are all emblazoned with the phrase "Life is good."

Business Blunders of the Year

63) Game of inches.

63) Game of inches.

With less than three minutes left in Super Bowl XLIII, just after wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald scores a long touchdown to put the home state Arizona Cardinals three points ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Comcast customers in Tucson are treated to some bonus footage: porn. Thanks to an "isolated malicious act" by an unknown perpetrator, the game feed is switched for about 30 seconds with video from a pay-per-view adult channel, treating viewers to full frontal nudity from porn star Evan Stone. The cable provider apologizes to offended customers with a $10 bill credit.

Business Blunders of the Year

64) It's not our fault. But if it were, we'd be really, really sorry.

64) It's not our fault. But if it were, we'd be really, really sorry.

A subsidiary of Universal American Insurance mails postcards to 80,000 of its Medicare Advantage plan members with their social security numbers printed directly above their names. The insurer fires the company that printed the mailers — but doesn't explain how the vendor could've gained access to the sensitive data without the insurer's involvement — and offers those affected a free year of credit monitoring.

Business Blunders of the Year

65) How many megapixels in your petard?

65) How many megapixels in your petard?

Tom Riall, head of a division at British conglomerate Serco Group responsible for the installation and maintenance of thousands of traffic cameras throughout the U.K., is caught driving his Volvo station wagon more than 100 miles per hour. Riall, who a year earlier was the front man for Serco's "Safe Drive Stay Alive" campaign, is fined nearly $600 and banned from driving for six months as the result of his third ticket in two years.

Business Blunders of the Year

66) LOL

66) LOL

The Wisconsin Tourism Federation, realizing that its initials form a crude acronym commonly used in text messaging, changes its name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin.

Business Blunders of the Year

67) WTF??

67) WTF??

Legislators in Iowa, with little regard to the ensuing acronym, vote to change the name of the state's Department of Elder Affairs to the Department of Aging, or DOA.

Business Blunders of the Year

68) People who purchased this item also purchased fava beans and a nice chianti.

68) People who purchased this item also purchased fava beans and a nice chianti.

Thanks to a programming flaw that allowed a mischievous customer to make changes to its Web site, Sears begins listing barbecue grills under the category heading "Human Cooking > Grills to Cook Babies and More > Body Part Roaster."

Business Blunders of the Year

69) So can pandering to the wrong ones.

69) So can pandering to the wrong ones.

In June, the marketing department of The Washington Post sends out promotional flyers inviting lobbyists to off-the-record "salon" dinners with publisher and CEO Katharine Weymouth and the newspaper's reporters and editors. Cost to attend: as much as $250,000. The dinners are dropped once the news breaks. Weymouth apologizes in the paper's OpEd section for appearing to sell access, saying that the flyers didn't "reflect what we had in mind" when they promised prospective attendants that "an evening with the right people can alter the debate."

Business Blunders of the Year

70) Many are discovering that the best way to spite their face is to eliminate their nose.

70) Many are discovering that the best way to spite their face is to eliminate their nose.

In a March press release, Verizon Wireless makes a pitch to recession-pinched customers, suggesting that they "cut the cord" and noting that "many families and small businesses are discovering the best way to cut overall telecommunications spending is to eliminate their landline phone." The strategy is news to the company's majority owner, Verizon Communications, which boasts 36.1 million landline customers in 25 states.

Business Blunders of the Year

71) She also gave herself an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in a Potentially Lethal Role.

71) She also gave herself an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in a Potentially Lethal Role.

In August, a woman who'd been honored as "Nurse of the Year" in 2008 by the "Connecticut Nursing Association" is arrested on charges of criminal impersonation and reckless endangerment after it is discovered that she is not actually a nurse. According to investigators, Betty Lichtenstein even went so far as to print invitations on fake letterhead from the nonexistent organization, throw herself a $2,000 banquet, and invite her employer, Norwalk neurologist Dr. Gerald Weiss, to be the guest speaker.

Business Blunders of the Year

72) Come for the tropical beauty, stay for the intravenous antibiotics.

72) Come for the tropical beauty, stay for the intravenous antibiotics.

Australia's Tourism Queensland offers one lucky winner what it calls the "Best Job in the World" — a salary of about $120,000 to spend six months on a tropical island doing nothing but exploring the Great Barrier Reef and writing a weekly promotional blog. Predictably, 34,000 people send in their resumes. Less predictably, winner Ben Southall gets stung by one of the area's notorious Irukandji jellyfish, an extremely venomous creature whose toxin causes symptoms including severe headaches, chest pain, and spiking blood pressure. "I should have been wearing a full stinger suit," Southall blogs, promotionally, "as is recommended at all the beaches here at this time of year…even if you're in the water for just a couple of seconds."

Business Blunders of the Year

73) Do as I do, not as I say.

73) Do as I do, not as I say.

In July, Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson comes out with his latest book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. The hardcover retails for $26.99. Though Anderson fails to practice what he preaches with regard to the price of his book, it soon becomes clear that he followed the advice in acquiring source material: The Virginia Quarterly Review discovers that numerous passages were lifted verbatim from online sources, primarily Wikipedia.

Business Blunders of the Year

74) Apparently the TARP folks just decided to cut out the middleman.

74) Apparently the TARP folks just decided to cut out the middleman.

In July, a New Hampshire man swipes his Visa debit card at a gas station and gets charged $23,148,855,308,184,500, plus a $15 overdraft fee. The same amounted is charged to a guy buying dinner at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant near Dallas and to a teenager using her card at a CVS drugstore in Virginia. A Visa spokeswoman attributes the multiquadrillion-dollar glitches to "a temporary programming error."

Business Blunders of the Year

75) Look for Cheech & Chong on specially marked boxes of Cocoa Krispies.

75) Look for Cheech & Chong on specially marked boxes of Cocoa Krispies.

In February, after a British tabloid publishes a photo of swimmer Michael Phelps smoking marijuana with a water pipe, Kellogg's quickly drops its sponsorship of the Olympic gold-medalist, saying his behavior is "not consistent" with its image. But instead of kudos, the company's move generates a spate of adverse publicity, including a 12,000-member boycott group on Facebook and riffs by comics on the obvious link between sugar-laden cereals and marijuana munchies. Kellogg's customer service line reportedly receives so many calls that it moves the option for Phelps-related venting ahead of questions about salmonella-tainted peanut products on its phone tree.

Business Blunders of the Year

76) Hmmm. Not sure our definitions of "successful" are all that similar.

76) Hmmm. Not sure our definitions of

In India, Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf begins shooting up best-seller lists, thanks to growing popularity among business students. Explains Sohin Lakhani, owner of Embassy Books in Mumbai, to London's Daily Telegraph: "They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it."

(AP Photo/Miguel Villagran)

Business Blunders of the Year

77) Hey, here's an idea: Just take it out of the $180 billion you owe us.

77) Hey, here's an idea: Just take it out of the $180 billion <i>you</i> owe <i>us</i>.