Cost: $40 million
If you think that the Oxford Comma is the only kind of comma that can result in the loss of a huge sum of money, you need to know about the regular comma that caused the US government to lose $40 million in taxes. In 1872, the US government passed a tariff law that imposed taxes on various products.
It also includes a list of items that are exempted from tax. One of the items is “fruits, plants,” which was supposed to mean plants that bear fruits. Importers interpreted this to mean that fruits and plants are free from tax. Grammatically speaking, this interpretation is correct. Had the law said “fruit-plants,” it could have conveyed the right meaning.
Cost: $148 million
In the age of technology and alternative currencies, cryptocurrencies have higher values than fiat money such as USD, GBP, and euros. One such cryptocurrency is Bitcoin which costs thousands of dollars per unit. In fact, it reached almost $20,000 in December 2017.
One man accidentally threw away his bitcoins back in 2009 when he chose to sell and dispose of his computer’s parts. Forgetting he had 7,500 bitcoins in his hard drive, he threw it away a few years later. Had he not thrown the drive, he could have had $150M in 2017!
Cost: $191.8 million ($125 million in 1999)
Back in 1999, NASA collaborated with Lockheed Martin to launch an extremely expensive satellite into space. It was meant to reach the orbit of planet Mars. It was supposed to be a great development. Unfortunately, the orbiter missed its target location.
The reason? The two organizations used different units of measurements. Engineers at NASA used the metric system, while those at Lockheed Martin calculated coordinates using the imperial system. So, the satellite flew past the planet and vanished into space forever.
Cost: $295 million ($225 million in 2005)
Mizuho Securities, Co. is a huge Japanese investment banking and securities company. When the company was seeking entry into the New York Stock Exchange, the stockbroker intended to offer it for around 610,000 yen which about $5,000 for one share.
However, an error in the data entry caused the system to reflect that 610,000 share costs one yen. Because of the low price of the stocks, many investors sought to buy shares. The regulatory body was able to lessen the damage by fixing the price at 572,000 per share.
Cost: approximately billions
Back when George Lucas was looking for a studio that would produce the Star Wars franchise, he decided to convince studios by offering them the rights for all related merchandise. That the series was created seems to be a good deal, right?
Nope. This decision has cost Lucas millions – even billions – of dollars. With this offer, 20th Century Fox owns all the rights to profit from Star Wars merch, leaving Lucas without even a cent from the toys and other Star Wars-branded products.
Cost: $2.4 billion
In a bid to develop an advanced submarine, the Spanish government spent a whopping $2.2 billion in 2013. This resulted in the blueprint for The Isaac Peral. However, even before the vessel was finished, engineers noticed that it was too heavy that it might not resurface when tested.
Upon checking the plan, experts identified one simple mistake that caused this waste of resources. Reportedly, the design showed the wrong number. Engineers said that this was because someone placed a decimal point in the wrong place.
Cost: $15.8 billion
Movie buffs know the struggle of borrowing films from Blockbuster and returning them before the due date. With the wide range of films carried by these stores, you can spend a huge amount of money before you can watch half of their catalog.
Now that Blockbuster no longer exists, Netflix definitely offers the same struggle for viewers. But did you know that Netflix offered to work with Blockbuster? However, the owners of the video store chain dismissed the idea, missing out on the billion-dollar service.
Cost: $20.5 billion
You might think that buying new trains for any railway is good news. However, for riders of France’s TGV fast trains, this can be a waste of money. Wondering why? It’s because the rail operator ordered trains that were too wide for the platforms.
It may sound funny but to the French citizens, it was a cause of an uproar. Even the French transport minister called this mistake “comically tragic.” On top of this, the government had to spend more money to widen its platforms in order to accommodate the trains.
Cost: Approximately $200 billion
Before Alaska became part of the United States, it was first a territory of Russia. However, the emperor of Russia in 1867 thought that it was best to sell the colony to the US as he did not think it was of much value. The US bought it for $7.2 million.
What the emperor failed to account for was that the area was still unexplored. Fast forward to current times and you know that Alaska is now seen as a rich source of oil and gold. According to reports, its reserves could be holding around $200 billion worth of oil and gas.
Cost: $1 trillion
Technology and gadget enthusiasts know about the success of tech giant Apple. The company has become a household name while maintaining its status as a deluxe brand. Because of its success, a movie was made featuring Steve Jobs, which co-founder Steve Wozniak praised.
But did you know that the company has a third co-founder named Robert Wayne? In fact, he is responsible for the brand’s iconic logo. However, he sold his shares after getting into disagreements with Jobs. Despite its success, Wayne said that he regrets nothing.
The entries on this list show how a simple mistake can lead to millions and even trillions in losses. Knowing this, don’t you think it would be wiser to be more careful when making decisions?
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