"Not me, but this was the largest mess up (multi-million dollar) I witnessed during my time in retail, and somehow nobody got fired.
I worked in a warehouse selling bulk items to people. I was stocking a shelf when I heard a loud crash, followed by one of the most horrific screams I've ever heard in my life. We get over to the scene and find that a forklift driver had knocked a pallet full of batteries from the top of the steel (about 3 stories up) off the other side, crushing a girl I worked with. She broke her back in 5 places, her hips were completely obliterated, her femur broke, basically, this lady was turned into a human pancake by a full pallet of batteries. By some miracle, she survived and recovered almost completely, but it took her well over two years to recover.
The forklift driver wasn't found to be at fault because the pallet should never have been placed where it was in the first place (there was a small Return To Vendor station on the other side where she worked, there shouldn't have been any pallets above them that would have placed them in the fall zone. She was paid out a $1M+ settlement and (for whatever reason) still works at that warehouse to this day, part-time and far away from the steel. The driver was allowed to return to work after the investigation concluded, although he stepped down as a driver and eventually quit. I think he felt incredibly guilty because for a while they didn't think the girl was ever going to walk again."
"When I was 17 years old, I started working at one of my dad's businesses. When I joined, they were selling 5,000 leather jackets a month in Europe. I was very inexperienced but I convinced my dad to let me handle it. He agreed but said he'll hire an advisor for me so I don't make any colossal mistakes.
On my second day, I authorized a previously canceled order to be shipped which was worth about $68,000. The jackets were ready but due to being late on the delivery date, a new Letter of Credit needed to be opened which ensures a guarantee of payment. I spoke to the customer in London who said he will pay if I ship the items but he won't open the LC because that's going through a lot of channels. I authorized the shipment and just a few days later the company closed and the guys who owned the company skipped town.
My dad didn't say a word to me remarkably but I learned my lesson anyway."
"I was working in investment banking at the time. I had just closed a ~$4 billion deal, the fee for which was about $10 million for the bank. I was a new Analyst, and this was my first time preparing an invoice.
Turns out you need to include our legal fees in the invoice, which came out to the tune of ~$150k. Invoice went out without the fees, the client paid the ~$10 million for our advisory services. We didn't want to look like dinguses after the fact, so we ate the $150k legal expenses.
Managing Director on the deal wasn't thrilled, but basically just said he should have paid closer attention to the invoice I prepared. It could have gone differently, but whatever.
I ended up being directly responsible for netting the bank like $120 million in fees over the next two years, so at the end of the day nobody really cared."
"I was programming a CNC making prototype directional drilling tools, there were hundreds of thousands of lines of code generated, I made a decimal error editing a few of them, scrapped a 120k part. Luckily we made 2 of them in case of an error. Boss wasn't really happy, but in the end, the customer was happy and ordered much more and ended up being a major customer of ours. It's a bad feeling though, you get a pit in your stomach upon realizing the mistake."
"I was an irrigator for a large alpine tree farm. One boss sprayed the field with a really expensive pesticide. Other boss didn't know and told me to water the trees. I washed off $60,000 worth of chemicals, got yelled yet, but other boss stepped in and took the blame. It was actually a great place to work."
"I blew out $300,000 worth of lights.
A children's museum in Santa Ana, CA, has a massive cube on its roof as a sort of landmark. It used to have the edges light up at night. I was told by a supervisor it needed to be shut off, explained I didn't know how... She basically told me to figure it out (wasn't mean about it, but was clear).
Long story short, it cost way too much to fix, so anyone from Orange County, CA, now knows why 'the cube' has been dark for the last 10 years."
"I was working security for a Diamond jewelry store. At the end of business every day, the staff pulls all the jewelry out of the showcases to be stored in the vault overnight. We had a large cart with several grooves in it in which would place the trays of merchandise. There was also an elevator to bring the cart down to the vault. Over time the store's inventory grew to the point where there was more product being pulled than could fit in the cart so we had a few trays put on top of the cart.
One day as I'm removing the cart from the elevator the wheels of the cart get caught in the gap between the floor and the elevator. As I was trying to extract the cart from that situation the trays on top fell off and slammed into the ground, ultimately destroying a $37,000 ring and a few other pieces.
Being a lowly peon I thought I was done for, but luckily the assistant manager stuck up for me when the head of security came down. They had been sticking trays on top of carts for as long as I had been there and there was nothing I could have had done to prevent it.
They ended up changing the S.O.P to hand-carry all the merchandise that didn't fit in the cart after that incident. I never got in any formal trouble over it."
"I worked as a building engineer for a large building in my teenage years.
One day there was a huge water leak in the 3rd-floor restroom. This restroom was unused and locked up, so it took a while for anyone to notice.
The first people to notice were the IT guys on the 2nd floor, as it turns out, they built up their server room (1.5million in parts) directly below the restroom on the 3rd floor. Water was pouring down from the ceiling, onto the racks and the poor IT guys were freaking out. This server room hosted PBX (VOIP) phones for clients across the nation. This water leak happened during business hours so they did not want to shut down the servers.
We ended up stopping the water leak, but not before it ruined 4 servers in the tops of the racks adding up to a (what I was told) a $75,000 mistake.
No one was fired. The IT guy who made the call to not shut down was reamed by the Director of Technical Ops. Those poor IT guys were running around like chickens with no heads as the water poured down, to this day, I wish I took a picture of the main IT guy standing on a ladder with a bucket to try and stop the water from hitting the servers."
"My father retired from the railroad a few years ago. Long story short, he hit a UPS truck that slid into the crossing. There was a lawsuit but his union and stuff was all in place so he only got a week paid suspension. The bottom line is that the railroad has so many regulations in place that it's impossible to have been doing 'everything right'" in the event of an incident (his words) but they also have so much insurance coverage that they never fix anything like old tie disposal or tracks before a derailment."
"I work for a public hospital in Australia; no one ever gets fired unless you can prove gross incompetence or active attempt to harm a patient. I was working in sterile manufacturing, training a new pharmacist. I was pulled away to help cover another area at the same time. A trainee pharmacist made up a medication worth ~$60k (AU) using the wrong syringes. This medication had to be made up in special syringes because it leeches PVC. I got pulled up in front of the director and asked to explain why it happened. They weren't happy with 'not enough staff, need more time allocated for training', but it didn't go any further."
"My mother had started a new job in advertising. The new manager was 'too busy' to show her how to properly operate the system and the manual is completely useless to anyone who isn't already familiar with said system. She proceeded to make a mistake that rendered the new ads of several companies essentially useless across an entire country. The ads couldn't be reshot. Each ad costs millions of dollars to produce, film, get approved, etc. Ad company had to reimburse the cost to each company while also having to explain such a monumental mess up to national TV channels. The manager got called up to head office because, quite rightly, they were to blame. Neither got fired though."
"I use to work at a dealership in a Major city that sold very expensive cars. I was a title clerk. One of my duties was stocking new cars into the system. Anything I stocked into our system would also update onto a couple online resources we were connected to.
I mistyped and had unknowingly listed a Mercedes-AMG S65 coupe, (a car worth over $200K) at something silly like $50K. Most people would see that price and know it was either wrong, or there was something wrong with the vehicle to be priced that low.
A guy called in asking about it. He asked a bunch of questions and ascertained that there was nothing wrong with it, and said he wanted to buy it right then and there. The salesman hadn't noticed the price mismatch yet and was super excited to get an over the phone sale so easily. They get to talking and then the price issue comes up, and the salesman knows the price is wrong and informs the customer that the quoted price is a typo.
Pretty much, the guy wasn't having it. He said we had to sell at the price it was listed at, it was illegal to do otherwise. He wanted to talk to a Manager, etc. So the call got escalated to a senior salesman first because the sales manager was out to lunch. Eventually, the Sales Manager got back in and took the call. Then the GM got involved. I thought for sure I was in huge trouble for making such a big mistake. Everyone laughed it off thankfully.
He did try getting a lawyer involved I found out later, but all prices listed on cars at a dealership are 'estimates' and subject to change at any time, and we do not have to sell to anyone we don't want to.
I remember through the day it had become such a joke, this guy just wouldn't let it go, and he thought he had found a loophole to get an amazing car super cheap. Our manager had him on speakerphone at one point, and he said to the guy, 'Listen, pal, I sell you this car at this price, I get fired, the finance manager would lose his job, and the girl in the office that put the car in the system (me) would lose her job.' The guy said in return, 'Your mistake, not my problem.' My manager hung up on him."
"One of the first calls I got from a customer in my previous job (selling power plant equipment) was from a buyer who had purchased a little under $100k in products from my predecessor. He wanted to know why nothing he bought looked like the stuff he had been sent, thinking we got the order wrong. It turns out that sometime between the 70's (when the site was built), and 2012, the unit had been completely gutted and stuffed with another company's equipment. For some unknown reason the customer failed to change their site drawings and so when this guy started a couple months earlier, he had no way of knowing he was ordering the wrong stuff.
I did what I could to help the guy out. we took back the common parts that we could sell to other customers, but he had to eat close to $70k in useless parts. His bosses weren't happy, but couldn't justify doing anything against him considering the circumstances."
"The receptionist at my job accepted a delivery at the front desk instead of insisting they take it to the loading dock (which is protocol). She never bothered to take the box to the warehouse or tell anyone it was at the front desk, just left it there all day. As I was leaving for the day I noticed a box still sitting at the front desk. These are usually patient pickups, that didn't get picked up for whatever reason and need to be returned to the pharmacy until the next day. I took the box to the back to discover that it wasn't a patient pickup, it was a delivery of very expensive medication that should have been refrigerated. We contacted the company to find out when it was dropped off that day, and since it was sitting out at the front desk unrefrigerated all day it was no longer usable. Easily over $100k in medication wasted. The receptionist was written up and reprimanded, but not fired."
"This was over a decade ago. My company reviewed transactions and basically submitted them for payment. A lot of times there are discrepancies and such... so those would have to be compared and rectified prior to a deadline. This was fairly early on in our business. A lot of stuff was done manually (think Excel with tons of transactions). Someone in my company received back a bunch of issues that needed to be fixed, proven as legitimate, or whatever.
My colleague put a filter on their spreadsheet and forgot about it. It was never resolved (probably not even looked at) before our deadline to rectify everything. The mistake was calculated to have cost the client $300k. Since it was a big client, my company flew my boss and myself to their HQ and handed them a check. 'Sorry, don't cancel your contract with us please...'
Surprisingly they didn't cancel. They were made whole. No one was fired since it really was an issue with our processes. No checks. Humans make mistakes. We should have known better."
"I worked for a direct marketing company. Mostly e-mail, but direct mail too. In March, our biggest client's biggest direct mail campaign went out. I had set up my code to do everything pretty automated to choose which people to send it out to. I missed one of the quality checks and ended up sending mail to tens of thousands of people that we knew had very little chance of responding. It was someone else's fault for mislabeling thousands of customers, but it was also my fault for not catching it.
Luckily, enough people responded that it wasn't a waste of money. We spun it as a 'learning experience' that will help us even more in the future by seeing how these people respond. 'It will help us hone our models even more!' That actually happened, by the way. Because of that mail campaign, we were able to increase future campaign responses by 2%."
"We were working remotely and my boss had a rental car. We had an employee on for an extra day and he didn't have a hotel for the night, but he said he had a friend he could stay with back in our home city. My boss gave the guy her rental car to drive to his crash pad, and maybe 15 minutes later he calls to say he had a multi-car rollover accident, totaling the rental and causing tens of thousands in other damages. The rental company refused to pay because he wasn't listed as a driver, his personal insurance refused to pay because he was working, our corporate general liability refused to pay. It dragged on for over a year until the company had to eat the full cost of the totaled rental and all the repairs to the other parties in the accident. Somehow none of us even got reprimanded. Remember folks, only registered additional drivers drive the rental car."
"I work for a Hollywood Talent Agency. Every few months, our agency does a photo shoot for our talent so that they can get new headshots at a discounted price. Even with the discount, a package of professional shots can cost between $650-$900 a pop.
It was only my second week working for this company, and my job at the photo shoot was extremely easy. I was in charge of offloading the cards and backing up the images onto an external drive. What that essentially means is, the photographer would give me a memory-card full of pictures that he just took, I'd plug that card into the computer, upload those photos onto an external hard-drive, then format the original memory-card and give it back to him. Easy right?
Over the course of the 3-day shoot, I must have done this 80 times for 50+ different clients. Eventually, it became muscle memory- take the card, upload the pics, format the card, give back to the photographer.
So on the last day, on the last client, I receive the last card. At this point, I'd been running on very little sleep or food. I took the card, uploaded the photos, and formatted the card, just like I usually do. Only this time, to my horror, I realized that I'd accidentally formatted the external hard drive, not the memory card.
Just like that, ~$65,000 worth of images were gone. I immediately started panicking. I wanted to try to fix the problem without my boss finding out, so I tried downloading a file-recovery program but the computer wouldn't let me download anything without my boss' password. Eventually, I had to fess up and tell him what happened. He made me sit and wait the 7.5 hours it took for the program to recover the lost images. In the end, everything was recovered and I kept my job."
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