5 Simple Spelling & Grammar Mistakes That Cost Millions

Filed as General on April 3, 2014 8:00 am

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Ilan Nass,  Chief Marketing Strategist at Fueled, an award winning mobile app design and development firm in New York City. He is also the founder of SEOWholesalers and Social Signifier, companies that provide white label services to marketing and advertising agencies looking to offer digital marketing to their clients.


Selling online is not as hard as you think. Write some great copy and watch the customers come rolling in.

That is, if the quality of the writing is terrible.

Even simple spelling and grammar mistakes can cost businesses millions. So to answer your question, yes, a typo can potentially cost your business millions.

Don’t believe us at Fueled? Here are some simple spelling and grammar mistakes that cost millions. 

A $2 Million Dollar Comma

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission ruled that Rogers Communications had to owe Aliant Corporation about $2.13 million Canadian dollars.  Because of this comma, Aliant Corporation was able to cancel their contract at any time, instead of being locked in for 5 years as Rogers Communications had expected. The comma in question indicated that the contingency only applied to one part of the contract (termination of the contract at any time), but not the other (the contract being valid for 5 years).

Careless Tokyo Trader

A Trader on the Tokyo stock exchange in 2005 wanted to trade one share at 610,000 yen. Instead, he put in an order for 610,000 shares at one yen each. His firm lost around $18.7 million.

Giving Business Away

Sporting Goods business L.L. Bean had delivered its back-to-school catalog to millions of homes. Unfortunately, the catalog asked its customers to call a phone number that was for a Virginia company instead of them.

Because of all this, L.L. Bean had to pay this company an unnamed amount of money to take over the phone number immediately. It probably must have cost them six figures.

You want to know what caused the typo? A writer who thought that a toll-free telephone number should start with “800”, instead of “877”.

Everybody’s a Winner

A car dealership in Roswell, N.M. mailed to mail 50,000 scratch-and win cards to potential customers in 2007. The grand prize would have been $1000. Sadly, each card ended up being a grand prize winner. If they had to pay up, it would have cost them $50 million dollars!

Because they couldn’t pay up, they ended up sending out $5 Wal-Mart gift cards in place of the misprinted tickets.

A Very Costly NASA Mistake

On July 22, 1962, the Mariner 1 launched into space. It was the United States’ first effort at an inter-planetary mission. A programmer had forgotten to place a hyphen in the Fortran code language that was used for computations during the ascent.  This missing hyphen caused Mariner 1’s destination to change. Because of this, 5 minutes after the launch the $80 million spacecraft was destroyed, as the Range Safety Officer issued the destruct command.

You could say it was probably the most expensive hyphen in history.

So what’s the lesson learned? Make sure you get your written documents proofread. If you can’t do it, at least hire someone who can. It would be shame for you to be in some of the positions many of the above companies were in.


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  1. By lap cap quang fpt posted on April 3, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    try to write the best content, but is difficult to write without mistake


  2. By nha dep posted on April 9, 2014 at 5:27 am
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    The content is King, but to be a King is very difficult :-)


  3. By Tony C posted on April 13, 2014 at 10:20 pm
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    While Content is important, you should always double check it before sending out!


  4. By Kate posted on January 10, 2015 at 6:16 am
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    What can a business owner do when publications sloppily include typos on material that was submitted without error? It seems like every time I invest in a yellow page or magazine listing, they misprint or misspell something crucial. One year, the phone number listed in my yellow page ad was completely inaccurate, with a prefix that exists precisely nowhere on Planet Earth, so I couldn’t even purchase the number or ask the real owner to redirect my calls.

    The second time, was today. They misspelled the type of service I offer. There is nothing else in the listing to indicate what I do. The typo has a real blurring effect on the entire listing, but even if you can make the correction in your mind , I think it is very hard for any reader to not be prejudiced against my business because of this error. It makes ME look sloppy and ignorant, even though I’m not the one who mistyped or failed to proofread it. (Ironically, I asked the magazine if I would have a chance to proof the galleys before it went to print. I could tell by the tone of their “no” they thought I was being a bit ridiculous. Well, ‘ladies’, the proof is in the pudding, isn’t it? Expect me to be literally breathing down your necks, next time.)


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