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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.


(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 11:35, 6 replies)
US Army
May be an urban myth...

...Many years ago the US Army wanted some pre-fab buildings shipping along the East coast to Aberdeen, S. Carolina (big Tank museum and tesing ground). The ship was going to Aberdeen, Scotland.

Rumour has it they are still somewhere in Jockland, gathering dust as it was too expensive to ship them back across the Atlantic.
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 11:22, Reply)
Surely someone's done this
I got married..........

Then I got divorced.........

You lot do the math.
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 11:00, 2 replies)
New Girl At Work
Has in the space of 2 weeks, written off a laptop (by shutting it with her earrings between the keyboard and screen), her company car (corner too fast, into ditch), her company phone (London, Puddle, Dropped, etc), driven her replacement company car into a colleagues in the car park, broken the door entry system (don't know how) and crashed the phone system (by somehow putting callers into a redirect loop or something)

She's been here 2 weeks

I suggested we recruit her at work cos she's fit.


and in answer to the question, probably about £20k in two weeks.
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 9:26, 2 replies)
...to pay the rent for this fucking pile of wank apartment. The show room looked so lovely I spent almost a year on the verge of orgasm every time I thought about it. It is honestly like a living fucking hell.
-Shit security who make up fake complaints so they can come to our apartment and claim an asian called us "white fucking racist bastards". Slightly racist in itself, I think. Shit neighbours who play rave volume music at 4am when you have 9am lectures...EVERY FUCKING NIGHT. And even shitter flatmates who you didn't even want to live with in the first place, but because the people who run this scheme don't fucking listen, you end up with two random cunts living in what is suppose to be YOUR apartment, playing fucking shitty wank rave volume music at 1-4am also.

It is honestly the biggest waste of money ever. And to top it off, there is no getting out of this contract unless I want to loose over 3k and have to pull out even more money for rent on another place.

I hate being responsible.
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 5:23, 2 replies)
This one time
in deep space, this Mimbari ship approached with her gun ports open. It only bloody turns out that's like their way of shaking hands.

Damn, was my face red.

Click I like this if you understand.
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 4:43, 5 replies)
My friend got drunk in London with a bunch of our mates, and lost his camera.
He was then informed him that he owed our friend Ben £200.

He got home, ready to tell his mum he needed to borrow two hundred and a new digital camera, to find his camera on the doormat under the letterbox with a note attached reading "GOTCHA! Lots of love, Ben".
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 1:48, 1 reply)
Back in the days when I was Assistant Manager of a certain frozen food chain store {which carol vorderman is currently selling her soul for, and is not Iceland}. I got change from the safe for a member of staff on the checkouts. I {stupidly} left the safe open as I would be right back. I got talking to a customer and when I went back to the office the contents of the safe were gone. £2300. Also my minidisc player from the staff room and a member of staffs purse{she claims, I had doubts}. Turns out some one walked into through the back to rob the staff room and got the safe contents as an added bonus. They tried the same in the local 99p store. I just about kept my job.
(, Sun 28 Oct 2007, 1:42, Reply)
2004 - 2006 Je ne regrette rien
Feeding drug habit - £20 800

Feeding drink problem - £15 600

9 months of rehab - Priceless
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 23:24, Reply)
Just following directions....
Back when I was a young military man, I worked on flight simulators. I have lots of stories about expensive screw-ups.

For example, I once sat down on a $40,000 circuit board -- not my fault, they shouldn't have set it on the chair. I also accidentally erased Europe from our radar database by sneezing while adjusting a hard drive.

However, the most expensive was when a co-worker set all the power supplies on one of the simulators to 'nominal' values. Part of maintenance was checking all the power supplies -- you would check to see if the 15 volt power supply was actually at 15 volts, plus or minus some amount like 0.25. Such that if the power supply was anywhere between 15.25 volts and 14.75 volts, it's all good.

This lad misunderstood, and proceeded to adjust all the power supplies to read perfectly in the middle. The 15 volt power supply read exactly 15 volts, the 28 volt power supply read exactly 28 volts, etc. He did this to several dozen power supplies. Now, for parts of the simulator this was no big deal, they were all digital and worked fine anywhere in the proper range. Other parts, however, were highly sensitive to their input voltage.

For example the hard drives. This was in the day of removable hard drive platters, and now none of them worked. There were many, many more problems, we were fixing calibrations for months, even after things were generally running again. The hydraulic motion system never really was the same -- it was always a little rough after that event, even in 'calm air'.

The flight simulators were down completely for 2 weeks, which caused 2 aircraft squadrons to delay deployment because of pilot qualifications requiring actual flight time. Figure 4000 hours of high-performance military aircraft flight time, with according wear and tear, 2-4 weeks delay in deploying two aircraft carrier battle groups, and the ensuing ripple effect on the plans of the rest of the Navy.

Remember those helicopters that broke down during the hostage rescue in Iran, back in April of 1980? From the USS Nimitz? The Nimitz was at the end of it's deployment -- it's replacement was delayed for some reason...

Sorry for the length, I'll adjust to nominal value next time.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 21:40, 1 reply)
Tax credits
When these things first hit the streets, me and the missus got a letter informing us we were due £470 pcm in benefits. We thought this was pretty cool, not because I was earning £30k at the time, but because the missus was about to drop sprog #2, so we kinda figured that's why we were getting a benefit.

We couldn't believe, however, that someone, somewhere, wanted to pay us best part of £500 per month for no good reason, so we phoned to check up - several times - many many times in fact! And we wrote. And we phoned again. "Yes, yes, please stop bothering us, you're entitled to all that money."

One last time I tried. "Oh Sorry! You don't deserve a penny - give it back. Now."

Long story short, the numpties in the end realised their error and tried to reclaim £1.5k off us in overpaid benefits. Because we'd come clean - and had records of who we'd spoken to and when - we got let off. Unlike the majority of the thieving chav twunts who tried to cover up the overpayments they'd recieved, then got all sh*tty in the press when the government asked for it all back.

Lovely, new carpets and a camcorder before baby was born. Thank you Tax Credit peeps.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 20:32, 1 reply)
Civil Service Boo Boos
Many years ago before the scaredy-cat litter expanded to three I worked as checking officer on a Sickness Benefit Section. As part of this a customer's National Insurance Number would come up as a random check. Anyway Mr X's National Insurance Number came up. The purpose of this was to make sure that the right money is paid to the correct person at the correct time.

Go and get his papers and call up his account on our antiquated computer system and start going through everything. Yes we're paying for him, his wife and numerous children and at this point I think we were even contributing to his mortgage - his order book was at the correct rate and at the correct post office.

Then get to the Contribution Conditions (to get the money you had to have paid the two full tax years prior to your claim). Oops, didn't satisfy - even said at the bottom DOES NOT SATISFY. Result £24,000 overpayment written off due to official errorand the customer shunted to Income Support. The same person hade made several other mistakes such as this and they were all written off. How nice are we? Much better than the Inland Revenue who had their law written so that they can recover any overpayment regardless of whose fault it is (and it's usually theirs as they employed numpties straight off the street to sort out Tax Credits for those in a financially tough situation).
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 20:21, Reply)
Ah, those wonderful rising house values...
My ex made the expensive mistake of turning into an abusive drunken neanderthal shortly after we bought a relatively expensive (for the time) house back in the nineties. After much unpleasantness I eventually managed to persuade him to move out. I thought I'd made an expensive mistake (see how I keep it on topic?) when I had to buy his share of the house for what seemed at the time like a vast (4 figure) sum. I struggled to make ends meet for a while while he lived it up for a few months on the money I'd bought him out with. A few years down the line my house now has equity well into 6 figures and he lives with his parents. :)
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 19:50, 2 replies)
Virgin Media/NTL
As pooflake has already said they are shite.......I closed my account with V/NTL 2 years ago.

I have received a letter from a Firm of Bailiffs demanding payment for the closing balance on my old account (which is Nil) luckily I have kept all my correspondance with this bunch of shite but guess what they wouldn't accept that they were their own letters as they had no record of them on their systems!!!!!

Eventually after many emails with the Twunts at "CUSTOMER SERVICE" they finally agreed to settle my account and call off the hounds.......I wait with bated breath for the third aniversary of my terminating the contract with the bearded ones Ass'oles
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 19:36, 1 reply)
Gym'll fix it
What about every time I join a gym with all the best intentions, go 4 times and then have to pay for it for the next 11 months because of the contract. On the 4th time now.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 19:06, 2 replies)
Renting a student house...
A little bit of my fault this one but still....

I decided to move out of student digsand into a house with four mates, one was a tranny, one was an ok girl, me and fat rosie. When we saw the house, it was nice, clean and well lokked after. so paid a deposit of £200 and then paid rent all over summer.

When i moved in, it was damp, dirty, smelly and my room actually stunk of damp and was wet when i woke up in the morning. I ended up with mumpsand depression, so i had to move out.

Ended up paying rent on it for the rest of the year enen though landlord had got another tennant and then had to pay £1000 for another place. Still paying off the debts now 3 years later.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 18:34, Reply)
queen elizabeth the skint
I got a job in Buck Palace counting the queen's money, imagine my shock and horror when I fell asleep on the job and my woodbine set alight to the money and burned it all. Of course the CIA keep it secret but she is actually skint now...and she had my head chopped of for doing it...fuckin cow
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 17:49, Reply)
Never ever be distracted because youre driving a new shiney beemer
A few years ago on a lovely August day, my boss was driving to work. All of a sudden this shiney BMW pulled right out infront of him from a car showroom. SMASH! My boss goes straight into the side of him.
This rich business jessy was pulling out of the BMW garage in his brand new T Reg 30 grand car. Poor sod was no doubt looking forward to being the first person on the road with a T Reg and showing off to everyone in the office.

Car? Totalled!
Length? Lasted 10 meters.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 16:28, Reply)
I work for a newspaper in the advertising dept (yeah, i've sold my soul) Some might even say the newspaper is Independent of any political party...but I digress

anyway, we've recently put out a supplement to go out in this un-named newspaper. It was my job to make sure that we hit targets etc... it was also my job to make sure all the flyers and stuff we send to clients have the right information on.

One bloody stat, cost us £3,000- the same £3000 which would have made us hit target, Who's fault was it? well, if you were paying attention in class, you would know...

i've been kicking myself about that for a week now. cuntsocks.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 15:39, Reply)
In 1999 I bought a house with my now ex-girlfriend. We paid £27,950 for it, then broke up about 6 months afterwards.

Mistake 1: I moved out, leaving her with the house, on the understanding that she pays to have my name removed from the mortgage. Instead of doing so, she proceeds to sit on her arse, paying nothing to live there and letting mortgage arrears mount up.

Mistake 2: A year after the break up, literally as the bank were about to go to court to repossess, she got in touch and said I could take over the house, on condition I repay the mortgage arrears. The bank refused to allow me to remove her name from the mortgage while there were arrears owing. So, instead of paying a solicitor £100 or so to draw up a contract writing off her interest in the place, I did it myself. Then lost it.

Mistake 3: Fast forward to 2004, the arrears were all paid off, and I was paying a comfortable £170 a month mortgage. I still hadn't got the ex's name off the mortgage. Then I bumped into her. At the bus stop in the next street. On valentines day. With my new girlfriend. Carrying a massive card, a bunch of flowers, and a huge teddy. Cue female scorn.

Mistake 4: She gives me the option to buy her out for £10,000, or sell the place. I'm stubborn, and opt for the latter. The place goes on the market for £50,000, and sells within days.

Now, that place is worth £90,000, and I'm paying £600 a month in rent. Absolutely gutted.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 15:38, Reply)
Another Heathrow Airport story.
I've just remembered:

You know the "high lift" trucks, sometimes called "cherry pickers"?

Well, a guy called Andy backed one into the engine of an Air India jumbo. The flight was grounded, 400 passengers had to be put up overnight, another aircraft had to be dispatched, not to mention fuel and repair costs etc...

I believe this put a dent in the insurance to the tune of about £4 million...
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 14:59, Reply)
Heathrow Airport
While I was a student I worked as an aircraft cleaner. One incident involved me failing to notice we'd put the wrong safety cards in the first class section of a Virgin airbus.

Obviously none of the exits were marked correctly therefore the flight was delayed until the correct cards were delivered and put out. This took half an hour, incurring a fine of £1000 per minute.

£30k. Oops.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 14:54, Reply)
page 3 stunnah
Many moons ago our company launched some build it yourself community websites. It was partly my job to oversee that nothing untoward happened on them (pron etc). As a rule everyone behaved themselves so we never really had a problem.

Anyway, one day I go into work and there's an email from a solicitor saying that they are going to sue us because despite repeated requests for us to remove some salacious content about their client, we had failed to do so.

Turns out that their client was a former page 3 model, who was now trying to establish a tv career, but between these periods she's done some not for children photography and video abroad. Some guy had found said 'core and built a site about it using our software. It was somewhat of a wanking shrine to this lady, but still, it wasn't legal as the licensing rights were only for the country of origin or something like that so that her reputation in the UK would be unharmed.

So I email back with a bit of a WTF email and pointed out that we had never recieved any correspondance.

After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing I find the site in question, and disable it from public view, and start speaking to our company lawyers, not really bringing anyone else in on the loop as it was early days and i was confident i could sort it without it getting messy. Not least because at this point i had now become in direct phone and email contact with said p3 stunnah. Yay.

That was until her solicitors started talking settlement numbers in the region of tens of thousands.

Somehow my boss got wind of this and I was called into the office.

Boss - I've just had a call from legal and I understand you have a situation with our community sites

Spike - Oh yes, i'm fairly confident *parp* that we're clean as we've done *parp* everything we can as soon *blert* as we were alerted.

The boss fixed me a steel eyed stare

Boss - is there any reason why you saw fit NOT TO TELL ME?

Spike - *cowering* No.

Feeling that I was properly in the shit I went back to my office and gathered up all of the work I'd done, printed off correspondance to take to my boss to evidence that we would be ok.

With all of this in hand I go upstairs to his office. He wasn't in. He was in with one of the board members and regional director discussing the case. Fuckingfuck.

I knocked gingerly on the door and entered without invitation.

My boss and the board member were both leaning in towards the pc screen. They look up, a bit shocked at my entrance, and my boss stammers 'err, is this her'

They were only watching teh pron!

Expensive mistake? well, I'm sure that if I was a minute later that I'd have caught them in a group wank. One of them was a millionaire several times over whilst the other is now almost definitely the next chief exec of the company. Could defo have got myself some blackmail out of it.

Length? never mind the length, feel the irony, as said p3 lass had, yup you guessed, virgin for her isp.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 14:43, Reply)
I forgot my wallet, which ended up costing Avis thousands.
About, ooh, 10 years ago now, I went to Finland to visit a chum.

I missed my first flight after I turned up at the airport sans wallet. "No problem, Sir. We don't need your credit card to issue your ticket; your passport is sufficient."
"Yes, but I'll be in Helsinki with no money and no means of getting any, and I'm expecting to hire a car. They'll want to see my credit card, even if you don't. I'm going home to get my plastic and Finnish cash. I'll get the next flight."

Cue getting to Helsinki many, many hours later than planned (around midnight, as I recall), to find the Avis desk (and the other rental desks) closed for the night, with only a single chap on duty for all of them, handling paperwork and keys for late arrivals such as me.

At the time I wasn't quite 25 years old, which meant I could only hire a limited selection of cars. Apparently Avis' insurance company felt that anyone under 25 couldn't be trusted with anything larger than a Ford Fiesta. How prescient of them...

So I rocked up at the Avis desk expecting to be given the key to a Fiesta or whatever Lilliputian equivalent they had in Finland. After much searching by the attendant, and a couple of phone calls to an apparently higher authority, he eventually handed me the key to something called a Nissan Primera. I'd no idea what it was; I wasn't a car nerd. It was a set of wheels. Off I trotted to the car park to find it.

"Hmm. This is a bit bigger than expected. And it's got an SRi badge on the back? I'm sure this can't be what I paid for. Ah well. Too late now. Vrooooom!"

Finland having a population half that of London, the roads are pretty quiet at any time of day. At night, a traffic jam is seeing another vehicle somewhere off in the distance. And 2 litres of finest Japanese engineering travels rather rapidly when the callow youth behind the wheel decides to pretend that the speed limit signs are in MPH rather than KPH. I arrived in Kuopio roughly two-and-a-half hours later. Good thing the Finnish plod were all tucked up in bed.

The next night, after dropping my chum off at home I headed back to the hotel. I discovered that one is supposed to give way to traffic coming from the right at intersections. Driving on the right, as they do, one might have thought the rule would be to give way to the left, kind of the inverse of what we do here. But no. Fortunately the fellow piloting the other car floored it when he saw me coming, so I only took his rear bumper off instead of putting a Primera-shaped dent in the side of his ride. When I called the next morning to say I'd be late because of sorting out the insurance paperwork my chum said, "Yes, I know. I've already heard." Turns out the passenger in the car was my chum's housemate. Small world.

The damage to the Primera? Minor crack to the front bumper, and one of the headlamp wipers was slightly out of alignment. Avis offered a replacement vehicle, but I turned it down. After all, the damage was only cosmetic, and minor at that. It wasn't as if I'd written it off...

The rest of the weekend passed uneventfully and I set out on the trip back to the airport. While cruising along at a somewhat more sedate speed (obeying the 120KPH limit this time), about an hour away from the airport, I heard an almighty bang, then the car twitched violently and started bouncing along the grass verge at the side of the motorway.

"No problem," thought I, surprisingly rationally, "I'll just brake very gently, 'cause I'm on a low-friction surface, and make sure I keep the car in a straight line. Everything will be fine."

There was another almighty bang, and the windscreen turned opaque and cracked. The steering wheel airbag burst between my bare forearms (I still have a faint scar from it; I tell people I used to be a cutter). "Fucksocks," thought I, "guess I'd better plant the brake and hope."

After finally stopping the car, I got out and found out what had happened. The first almighty bang was the rear-left tyre bursting. The second almighty bang was a concrete lump smashing into the underside of the engine, shoving the battery up into the bonnet, breaking the bonnet away from the catch and sending it hurtling into the windscreen, before momentum carried the car over the lump and further along the verge. The Finns run pipes along the sides of motorways, I later found out, and the concrete lump I'd hit was the cap on an entrance to one of these pipes.

Avis collected the remains of the car and paid for a rather expensive taxi ride for the rest of the way to the airport.

So, however much a new Nissan Primera SRi was (I'm sure the concrete lump must have shifted the engine, which is usually a write-off), plus the taxi & recovery costs, plus the repair bill to the car I hit a couple of days previously, is what it cost Avis for the mistake of lending me something their own policies said they shouldn't, because it was late at night and the attendant wanted to get rid of me and go home.

And all because I left my wallet at home.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 14:20, 1 reply)
I'd just finished working at a gig in Manchester and was doing a load out at the end of night - I'd been working loading in flight cases to our truck when unbeknown to me some numpty pulls up in a smart new truck, double parks along side us, opens the cab door to get out and make a pick up and decides it's too much effort to close it. This just happened to be behind my back and overhanging the tail lift.

The first I know of this is on hearing a crunching noise as the tail lift goes up and the door genntly topples onto me after being literally torn off its hinges. Whoops. I think he must have been quite chilly driving around the rest of the evening...
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 14:12, Reply)
Re: Not so handymen

I used to work with just such an incompetent by the name of Charlie and he was a proper one.

If a job needed something to be screw-fixed, you could bet your life that Charlie would use nails instead. Screws, on the other hand, were to be treated as nails and hammered into the wall - whether they wanted to go or not. If he was forced to use a drill with a screw bit, he'd keep the drill on full tilt until the screw head was worn out. So, with no slots on the head, we'd have to get the baby angle grinder and cut the heads off and then slowly unscrew the shaft with a vice grips. As I type this I can still hear the WHIRR-BOCKETTA-BOCKETTA-WHIRR as he let the drill bit bounce around on the head of the screw.

Christ but I can still remember the panic whenever we'd a heavy workload on and Charlie was assigned to your team. You could guarantee that everything would now take three times as long to get done. Charlie you see, had an opinion on how everything should be done and would insist on trying his method first. When it failed, as it usually did, he'd try again, and again and.... before storming off somewhere else to 'perfect' his method.

He used to insist on having the local radio station on all day at ear-splitting volume while he'd agree with the mentalists who'd phone up to complain about everything and then lecture us on why the country was going to the dogs and how it was all our generation's fault. All this in a public building with people attempting to work in nearby offices and people trying to help members of the public while Charlie made it seem like a metal-bashing factory.

I still break out in a cold sweat at the time when, atop a 30 foot ladder, hanging on like grim death as I attempted to repair a loose gutter bracket, I was scared shitless by Charlie shaking the ladder violently in order to get my attention. After that near death experience, I carried on with the task and made to come down. It was then that I noticed that Charlie, instead of holding the ladder steady for me, had fecked off for his tea break without warning.

As for costly mistakes - a couple of grand's worth of wrecked tools (he dropped a couple of drills from a great height and broke a bench saw because he attempted to saw through a lump of timber studded with nails), broken windows (shoved a ladder through them - twice) and God only knows how many boxes of the wrong sized screws and other components when he returned from the suppliers.

And to think he used to wax lyrical about how he was quite the DIY expert and had done thousands of quid worth of improvements to the family home.
(, Sat 27 Oct 2007, 13:46, 1 reply)

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