Cringeworthy Typos that Cost a Fortune

I read this morning that a soccer club in Montpellier, France had jerseys made up for their players, but only put one ‘l’ in their city’s name. What did they do? They donated them to the high school soccer teams in Montpelier, Vermont who are ecstatic to be receiving professional jerseys.

Merci beaucoup France!

People make typos in their writing all the time. I get it. It’s easily done, and if you’re a high school soccer player in Vermont it can really work in your favour. But occasionally, a typo can cost millions of dollars. I decided to dig a little deeper into the world of typos, and found that a missed letter here or a number there can be quite catastrophic. Here are five of the best (or worst):

Cheap lodgings. The Crowne Plaza Quarto D’Altino hotel in Venice, Italy, decided to honor reservations made on August 9th, 2009 after its rooms were advertised online for 1 cent per night. Although the mistake was quickly rectified, the hotel lost over $129,000 in revenue. (Meanwhile, I figured I’d got a good deal when I spent $90 for a night at the Motel 6 in Madison, Wisconsin in January. Life is so unfair.)

It IS rocket science. On July 22nd, 1962, Mariner 1, the first rocket of the American Mariner program, launched from Cape Canaveral. Its purpose was to fly past Venus and I suppose collect some sort of complicated space data (I skipped that paragraph). Instead, the Mariner 1 began behaving erratically and was sent into the ocean five minutes after takeoff. The cause? A NASA employee had missed a hyphen while writing the computer code for the mission which caused a guidance system failure. The cost? $18.5 million dollars. I bet that guy felt bad. I dropped an entire tray of coffee mugs once when I was a waitress, so I can relate.

Driven to drink? An unwitting eBay seller gave up more than half a million dollars by misspelling the name of a bottle of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale. The famous bottle was one of several brewed in Burton-on-Trent, England exclusively for an Arctic expedition in 1875. The eBay seller forgot a ‘p’ so it went unnoticed by most collectors until one hawk-eyed bidder snapped it up for about $300. He then went on to sell it for over $500,000.00. I feel physically ill just thinking about this one.

Paying the price. Imagine you’re the general manager of the Chilean mint. Imagine that feeling you get when you first see the new Chilean 50 peso coin you have so lovingly overseen over the last several months. It’s so gorgeous! What a proud moment! Er…wait a minute…??


This is a blunder of epic proportions. Not only must the engraver have spent hundreds of hours creating the mold for the 2008 issue of the Chilean 50 peso coin, but I’m sure the odd person must have checked it over before minting several thousand of them and sending them into circulation. But guess what? Nobody noticed for months.

Really? Even I would have caught that one.

And finally….

Spell check is NOT your friend. In 2010, Penguin Books Australia issued an apology for a recipe in the Pasta Bible cookbook which called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” Seven thousand copies of the book were destroyed, although those that had already been shipped to retailers were not recalled.