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This is a question Expensive Mistakes

coopsweb asks "What's the most expensive mistake you've ever made? Should I mention a certain employee who caused 4 hours worth of delays in Central London and got his company fined £500k?"

No points for stories about the time you had a few and thought it'd be a good idea to wrap your car around a bollard. Or replies consisting of "my wife".

(, Thu 25 Oct 2007, 11:26)
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This question is now closed.

One more from me..
I also knew a fella who owned a fleet of articulated lorries, and they specialised in moving very sensitive electronic equipment.
This shipment was rolls of paper. Not sensitive at all, but at the final destination they told the recipients that a roll had fallen on a motorway and would be best if they would claim on the insurance.
No Can Do.
It has to be recovered.
No Ifs, No Buts, recovery is the only possible outcome.
Police were called, the road sealed off, helicopters etc etc etc just to pick up a roll of paper, Bank Note Paper! one decent set of plates and goodbye to the countries economy
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 19:47, 1 reply)
A Sparky I once knew
Was rewiring an old windmill that someone had bought and was refurbishing the whole of the inside and turning it into a house.
Every room was circular, and so everything that was to be fitted had to be especially made to fit, and the kitchen is where this blunder took place.
Having measured the circumference the Kitchen designers wrote down all the measurements, and no doubt drew up a plan of the place, submitted the information, most likely over a two way walkie talkie because the curved worktops arrived soon after with the arc of the wall transferred to the inside arc of the worktop, and subsequently it wouldn't fit. God knows how much it cost, but I would have thought it was good for nothing more than a rubbish skip.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 19:40, Reply)
A bit off-topic, but...
On the train heading home, there was a chav girl on a mobile, regaling us all with tales of her exciting life in as loud a voice as possible. Imagine Barry Scott in female form, draped in Burberry.

She was talking about someone called Kev and what a twat he was, and, just as I was managing to blank her out, she came out with, "and then I shat meself. Yeah, I actually shat meself..."

Seeing as Burberry tracksuits can cost upwards of a tenner, that's gotta be an expensive accident.

(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 18:42, 5 replies)
Not me, but the EU
As the EU Presidency wagon train rolled around Ireland spraying money about like a US army accountant in a war zone I was enlisted to provide an interpretation system for a press conference at the K club golf club.

My job was to be a technician on stand by for the week of meetings, prepared for the moment when a decision be reached by the fois gras snorting euro chumps that was momentous enough to be shared with the world. We were in a massive marquee pegged into a fairway with loads of lighting, sound and interpreting gear costing probably €10,000 a day, 10 interpreters on €1100 a day each and 5 techs on €500 a day.

For the whole week all we handled was one 20 minute press conference.

Thank you EU. That was a sweet little holiday, sponsored by you and Mr. Guiness. I haven't shifted the stone I put on in the 6 years it's been since then.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 18:36, Reply)
Government department computer systems
'Nuff said?

I've spent the best part of 18 years working in various government departments, and the shocking inability for ministers to develop a tender spec that sets out exactly what they want the computer system to do is nothing short of a disgrace.

Over £30 million in the mid 90's to develop a benefit card system for the post office, and scrapped because they couldn't get it to work properly (they decided to test it on child benefit first, because they reckoned it would be easiest).

Roll out of Jobseekers Allowance in 1996, and the system couldn't get beyond the personal details screen without crashing, resulting in all claims having to be processed manually for the first few days.

The great National Insurance switchover, where all the data stored on one system would be automatically transferred to a new, better system overnight. They switched off NIRS1, only to find that a stupidly high proportion of data hadn't transferred to NIRS2 as it was supposed to. Result, more manual processing of all benefit claims, meaning claims taking around 2 weeks to process instead of the average 3 days while we waitied for the NI records to be retrieved.

And recently, I worked for Defra, where the most complex system for processing Common Agriculture Policy payments has been adopted by the UK, in contrast to the rest of the EU, who took the simplest option. Thousands of farmers not receiving their payments on time, antiquated computer system (honestly, you needed 3 separate systems just to pay 1 claim, it used to drive me mad). New super-system not working properly, resulting in out of date data, adding to the problem. Millions paid out to farmers in compensation, and Defra being fined millions for being, frankly, shite.

I could go on...

Want to make a mint in IT? Be come a government contractor, fuck it up, and go away with a nice little payoff courtesy of the tax payer (Legless, take note - there's a fortune waiting for you in IT mis-management. All you need to do is become incompetent in all matters IT overnight. Might take a bit of doing, but I'm sure a man of your prodigious talents could do it...)
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 17:58, Reply)
Company I worked for
back in the early 90s decided to have a "makeover". This involved a shite mission statement concocted from a Tesco Value book of management-speak and the expense of letting some "experts" come up with a logo. The grand unveiling day arrived and we sat awaiting the reveletion to come. "This new logo represents solidity and strength,values of the company; the colour is warm, yet powerful"...you get the picture anyway. Eventually this wonder was revealed to the assembled throng. A red square with the company initials in white on it. £30,000 for a fucking red square.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 17:11, Reply)
Some tales from history
1) The Egyptian pharoah Cheotep ordered a vast underground vault to be built to contain his remains when he died. 400,000 slaves toiled for 23 years to complete it, and then he had them all slaughtered to avoid grave-robbers finding out the location. Oops! He had forgotton to ask them where they built it. He was buried in a shed.

2) American billionaire JD Rockerfeller didn't want to buy just any watch. He wanted the most expensive watch in the world. So esteemed Swiss manufacturer Breuget fashioned a pocket watch from an apple-sized diamond on a strap of woven platinum. The watch was so valuable that it had to be kept in a safe at all times for insurance purposes and he had to carry the safe everywhere in a wheelbarrow, opening it when he wanted to know the time. Unfortunately, his clumsy manservant slipped one day while wheeling the safe up the gangplank to a yacht and it sank beyond the reach of divers.

3) Chinese emperor Qui Fung was a man of grand gestures. He ordered that a palace be built out of pure gold. After 37 years, his dream had been realised and he was invited to it's grand unveiling. Unfortunately, he had been dead for the last 17 years and no one had told the builders. The palace was used to keep lawnmowers.

4) Hollywood star Angelina Jolie was at a party and heard some English tourists talking about curry. She asked them which was the best curry house in Britain and they replied that it was Delhi Dreams in Bradford. Quick as a flash, she got on the phone and arranged to have a selection of dishes flown directly to her by private jet. Just four hours later, the dishes arrived and she tasted them... only to discover that she was violently allergic to cumin and coriander. It all went in the bin and she'd wasted 47.000 dollars.

5) Eccentric Venezuelan billionaire Jose Cuava had always wanted to spend his dying days in the most beautiful place on Earth. He arranged to be flown to the Maldives, where he would bob in the sea and breathe his last. Unfortunately, his cloth-eared pilot misheard the destination and Jose crashlanded in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 17:03, 2 replies)
Not expensive, but common
queue - as in standing in the queue.
cue - as in cue me getting a bollocking.
que - pronounced "k" as in manuel from fawlty towers.

I'm only a pedant when I'm tired, sorry.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 16:46, 8 replies)
My old VW Golf was hardly the paragon of German reliability that the adverts proclaimed. In fact, it went wrong. A lot and at almost Alfa Romeo-esque expense levels.

In the same way my Alfa 156 ate air-mass meters (which cost £200 for a length of drainpipe with a bit of wire shoved in it), my Golf loved nothing more than to lunch a fuel pump. The impending fuel pump death would be forewarned by a high pitched annoying whine from the underside of the car - as opposed to the high pitched annoying whine in the car, which was my ex wife. Only one of which could be fixed with a 5lb hammer unfortunately.

Anyway, having spent £165 on getting a faulty and 36,000 mile old fuel pump replaced, the car starts to misfire and the dreaded whine is back. Further investigation reveals that the Mk 2 Golf has TWO fuel pumps, one under the car and the other in the petrol tank. The latter can be bought for £38 and requires nothing more than a jubilee clip to fit it. Price from VeeDub? £100.

Kerching! Decision made, I'm in the boot of the car removing the access flap to the petrol tank. I have to unscrew a large, plastic cap, pull out the wires and unplug the fuel pump on the end of it before reversing this process.

Job's a good 'un. Fucking garages, what do they know...

Six weeks later it's MOT time. Apparently the seal on my petrol tank was faulty, which necessitated a service engineer undoing the large screw cap and doing it up again.

Total cost for this job? £100...
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 16:22, 8 replies)
Thrown away
a lot of old Star Wars Toys (in a very good shape) a few weeks before Episode I was announced ... damn.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 15:47, 1 reply)
Expensive Champagne
Friend of mine from work took his good wife away on a weekend in Paris. He ordered them a bottle of £70 champers which he thought was a bargain. It was only when he remarked how good value the coffee was at 50p a go that she pointed out that he had his maths wrong and the coffee was actually £5. The light bulb went on and he realised that his bargain £70 bottle had just cost him £700! He did say that he wondered why two waiters had come to the room when the bottle arrived...
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 15:36, 2 replies)
A life of vice
I had a wheel bearing go on my car once. So rather than put it in to the garage to be fixed, I thought I'd save money by asking my mate with a well equipped workshop if I could do it there with his help. He agreed.

So anyway, off came the hub carrier, and we bashed out the old bearing and cleaned up the hub ready to accept the new bearing. Not having a proper press, we decided to use his bench vice to press the new bearing in. All was well for the first few mm, then it got stiff (stop sniggering at the back) so we decided to apply a bit more leverage.

Two metal tubes over the ends of the vice handles later (with one of us pulling each end) and we were in business. The plan was entirely successful until the screw sheared on the vice. Of course a vice is designed to withstand the force a normal human can apply using the supplied handle, not two of us going full tilt with levers.

Anyway, we got the bearing in eventually by use of brute force, and refitted the hub to the car. The test drive then showed the ABS was no longer working. So I thought we'd damaged the sensor when we removed it.

Cost of a new sensor? £150. Bugger.

Got one from a scrapped car for £20. Fine. But it didn't help. And why? Because we'd fitted the wrong fecking bearing, that's why. It was supposed to have the ABS sensor ring on it, and the new one didn't.

So I drove it without ABS until the next MoT, when I had to have another new bearing fitted.

I now tend to trust this sort of job to the professionals. They may not make any better a job, but if they make an arse of it, at least I don't have to pay!

Wheel bearing - £30
New vice - £300
ABS Sensor - £20
New bearing - another £100 fitted.
Learning by experience - priceless.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 13:45, Reply)
Not expensive in terms of money, but in terms of life experience
After snogging both 20 year-old blondes, I have no idea what made me accept a lift back to Camden instead of staying at their place.

Especially afterwards, when I found out what they got up to in my absence.

I'm an idiot.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 13:44, 7 replies)
More of a 'thank feck it never happened...'
I work for an aircraft ground support company and (as I'm kind of well spoken and polite) get to go onsite a lot of the time.

Few years back we got a contract in Beirut to service and test their aircraft jacks. As one of the only people in the company with a valid passport, the boss asked if I'd like to go - of course, having grown up with Beirut on the news due to the civil war going on, I jumped at the chance (I'm off the drugs now).

Anyhoo, we're working away quite well, then Tim decides he needs to visit the 'little Arab's room' so off he trots leaving me to pressure test this 50 tonnes capacity jack with NO instruction.

So I merrily jack it up to it's full height, then proceed to put the full 50 tonnes pressure onto it - any by hand using a small pump, that's no easy feat.

Tim comes back and says "what load did you put on it?"
"50 tonnes," says I with a proud smile. Cue a VERY strange look and Tim practically flew to undo the pressure release valve. When the jack was fully retracted, the only thing holding the 50kg, 1200mm long ram inside the jack was basically a circlip, albeit about 10mm thick, and this circlip was so out of shape from having this massive pressure* put onto it.

Now, we were working at the airport, and there was a MASSIVE troop barracks next door...can you imagine if that circlip had failed, resulting in a 1200mm, 50kg lump of steel hurtling through the hangar roof and probably into the barracks?

Actually, it did render the jack unusable, but the cost to replace was about £4000 so not that expensive I guess...

*In normal usage, the pressure would be on the top of the ram, not just pressurising against the cylinder collar.

Length: 120mm
Girth: 200mm
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 13:32, 1 reply)
Not me, thank god.
This was a very expensive mistake, in more ways than I can count. Google image search for her if you dare. Oh, and at the bottom of the page is a link to a video- very appropriate for Halloween!
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 13:15, 6 replies)
My missus
..threw a winning scratchcard away, worth £2,000.

I'm still with her,
until I can think of a suitable punishment.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 13:05, 1 reply)
Ooh it Burns!
I reckon this transformation counts as an expensive mistake.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 13:00, 3 replies)
First solo flight
When you learn to fly you are expected to complete a minimum of 10 solo hours before you are allowed to attempt your PPL test. Obviously this doesn't happen until your instructor thinks you're capable but on hindsight I think mine put me up for solo a bit too soon.

Pre-flight checks, taxi, takeoff, radio calls and a couple of circuits were all fine and I was feeling pretty confident about coming in for a touch-and-go (land and then immediately take off again). Only for me turn into final approach and find that I had lost so much height on the turn I was rapidly heading into an electricity pylon. Much over compensation later and I'm skidding my way, left wing first, into a nearby field.

Damage? One irate farmer, £25,000 worth of damage to the plane and some new underwear.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 12:55, Reply)
Never hack off an advertiser
This is a true story, but somewhat 4th-hand, so forgive me if the background detail is a little hazy. The end result is still the same though.

Some years ago, in the North East, there was a chap who worked in advertising. Now, apparently, said chap's employer did something to really piss him off, so he left the company. But not before finishing off his final piece of work, which was a Yellow Pages ad for a Tyneside-based tennis club. Not just a 'come and play tennis with us 'cos we're the dog's whatnots' type ad, but a full line illustration type ad, about 4" by 4" on the printed page.

Being a tennis club, a piccie of a male tennis player, in suitably dynamic tennis-playing pose, was deemed to be an appropriate image to boost the club's profile. So advertising chap duly draws up said picture of bloke in blokey tennis pose. Wearing shorts. With his knob hanging out.

Quite how it got past the advertising company's proof reading stage is one of advertising's great mysteries, but the finished ad did indeed end up in copies of the Yellow Pages, right across the North East of England.

Expense? Not sure, but how much would it cost to print several hundred thousand copies of the Yellow Pages and then realise that about two thirds of the way through there's a drawing of a man playing tennis with his knob out?

Length? About half a centimetre once it was printed...
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 12:45, 2 replies)
I purchased a second hand playstation off ebay for £200 and received a box with a dead cat in it. I should've read Leyxias feedback.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 12:12, 9 replies)
failed to take disc-lock off!
one lovely summers day last year, the (now ex)Misses and I hopped on my Motorcycle so that I could whisk her through the traffic to the trainstation where she could buy her ticket for early the next morning, just so she could have a bit of a lie-in and avoid queueing for the ticket booths on a busy weekday morning.

Anyway, she gets off the bike, i get off the bike, I put the disc-lock on, we go into Temple Meads and buy said tickets, we come back out, helmets on, both get on and away we g... OUCH!

i had indeed forgotten to take the disc-lock off, what a pillock! There's me and the ex laying on our sides still on the bike on the floor. the worst thing was that the way the bike was still on top of us and we were still "sat" on it, it made it very hard to get up!

Cue loads of people stood around laughing and pointing and me getting angrier and redder shouting "get up, GET OFF!!"

not fun! damage to the bike was minimal, bit of scratching, my legs took the brunt of it. EGO damaged :(
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 12:08, 7 replies)
Not the most expensive mistake but...
...quite an expensive mistake. I was on holiday is Spain last summer after finishing Uni, met a nice girl in the hostel. My last night before I go to Valencia we stay up all night chatting and eventually get to kissing. Anyways we go down to the station, kiss goodbye etc, then I get on the train to Valencia.
Whilst sitting on the train I realise I dont really want to go to Valencia, id rather stick around for a sure fire shag....but by now the train leaves. So I spend 3 hrs going to some pisspit town called Lineas Baeza, then buy a ticket back forfeiting my hostel reservation and rest of ticket to valencia, 3 hrs back....go and get a swanky hotel room in granada. Im thinking this will be "romantic" coming all this way back to see her. Easy result. Fail to get any sleep in afternoon. Go to hostel to see the girl and it turns out she is "kind of going to see this guy from Paris she met next week." So no loving then, que a lot of cash spent.

The worst thing is when i got up the next morning (after severe sleep deprivation) in the hotel room, and went for a cig on the balcony, I shit meself.

The moral of the story. Always do things now cause if you hestitate and stop and think about them they will turn to shit.

(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 12:08, 1 reply)
My expensive mistake
was taking on a second job.

It's now three weeks on. They've not paid me.

They're supposed to pay fortnightly. Nobody got paid on Friday, fair enough, so everybody got paid on Monday instead this week.

Except me. I've got the payslip, but has it gone into my bank account? Has it fuck.

Where's my fucking money you cunts?

I'm going to kick off big time if it's not in by tommorow.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 11:52, 1 reply)
I bought it from ebay...
One fine summer I booked two week in the sun in Spain with my missus. The only problem is that I was bidding on something on ebay that I really wanted and it ended when I would have been on holiday.

Que me telling my mate my username and password and asking him to keep bidding for me should someone else outbid me. 1st mistake!

I would apologise for length but it's all I have left at the moment...

The item was bidding for around £75-£80 when I left. I did indeed win the bid but he started a bidding war with someone and ended up buying the item for no less than £215! Now I could've bought said item for £175 new in the shops.

Que him telling my other mate about it (who is the biggest joker on the Earth) 2nd mistake! Maybe not mine but it stems from mistake number 1 so...

I come back from holiday feeling refreshed and expecting my item to be there waiting for me. Nope. Nothing. And that wasn't the only thing missing...

Mate 2 (Joker) had watched mate 1 enter my username and password and went back to his house and proceeded to sell pretty much the contents of my house on ebay. T.V, PS2, Nintendo Wii (Which I had bought about 2 weeks before I went on holiday) along with all the games for them, and some other things some which you probably wouldn't get anymore.

Now myself thinking that it was one of his wind ups thought he'd hidden the stuff. There's only one way to find out...

Yup I log onto ebay and find out that indeed he had sold all the items. After launching a tirade of verbal abuse on said mate, I decide to check my Paypal account and see how much in credit I am, so I can start buying stuff back.


The fucker only decided that he shouldn't have done what he did and tried buying what he sold back from different sellers, to stop me from noticing.

Wii cost me: £150 (As my other mate, not relating to this story, owned a games shop and got me a pretty good discount). And that was with 3 games.

Wii cost mate: £445 with all the games he sold back.

Television cost me: Nothing. Got it from my mother when I moved out. Brand new widescreen HD ready television. Probably cost my mother somewhere in the region of £200-£300 though.

Television cost him: £995 as he thought to say sorry he'd order me a bigger telly.

All the odds and ends he bought back cost roughly around £250 more than what they should have.

As I'm not a millionaire, the bank wasn't happy with said payments going out so they returned them and charged me £30 for each return. They can only charge £90 per month, so I still have about 2 months worth of charges left.

AND because most of the payments to sellers was returned by the bank, I received 7 NEGATIVE FEEDBACKS! Now as I only use ebay to buy, I always had 100% rating. I roughly had about a 65% rating, before ebay decided that after 7 unpaid item disputes unanswered they would suspend my account.

Oh, and the payment for the Wii got returned but the 4 games he bought didn't so I now have 4 wii games which I can't resell on ebay nor play.

Moral of the story is never trust your mates with something which could bankrupt you.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 11:22, 8 replies)
Working on a service desk...
Italian caller: "Ma laptop eh crashed"
Me: "What were you doing when it crashed?"
Italian caller: "No No eh crashed"
Me: "Yes but what program were you using at the time?"
Italian caller: "No ai left on roof of car and drove down road. Eh crashed!"
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 11:00, Reply)
My dad (the pilot) again...
Same dad as from the earlier pilot story, although this doesn't involve planes. He managed to set serious fire to our kitchen trying to make tortilla chips. Couldn't be bothered to run out to a store to purchase them, oh no, cause football was on. Said football game was sufficiently interesting to keep his mind *off* the large pan of frying oil he'd set heating on the stove. Result = conflagration. But that's not the best part.

Three months later, kitchen almost rebuilt. Cabinets in but not yet repainted, replacement stove/fridge/etc. while first lot are all being repaired. Guess who decides to make tortilla chips again? This time a friend came to the front door. Result = conflagration number 2. Which he also cleverly put out himself using the best item to hand...the water-soaked best silk sheets sitting in the nearby laundry basket. My mother was out of town at the time but I can still hear her voice screeching at him from the telephone receiver that he was holding 3 feet from his head.

To be fair to him though, my mother did manage to put dad's sports car (the one he had painstakingly rebuilt himself) into reverse one day while they were travelling 60 mph down a highway. *SCREEEEEEthunk* = one transmission less.

Surprisingly, my parents aren't married anymore :-)

Apologies for length, but they were married almost 20 years, which by anyone's standards was probably too long :-)
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 10:42, 4 replies)
lack of bollardy goodness...
Mr 'n' Mrs Hitlers mistake was not taking the morning after pill.

Ho ho ho, I crack myself up, I really do.

(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 10:05, 1 reply)
more domain names
Surely everyone's heard of the garden centre in Australia - Mole Station Nursery, their domain name was pretty upsetting until they cottoned on and changed it.

Also, I was a regular user of experts exchange before they added the hyphen to the domain name, and I never even realised until someone pointed out to me....

*EDIT* Didn't see below.....Now I feel like an ass
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 9:49, 1 reply)
I used to work at a bakery in Pudding Lane.
All I did was leave the oven on.

That was an expensive mistake.

Laugh? I nearly got fired. Literally.
(, Wed 31 Oct 2007, 9:34, Reply)

This question is now closed.

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