Having a professional proofreading company check over your written work for errors is extremely important, as spelling mistakes or grammatical mishaps can be embarrassing and costly. Proofreading your own work is something that should generally be avoided, as I found out first-hand this week by almost submitting an article related to musical festivals containing the line, ‘your festival bag and willies are probably already in order… ‘ Obviously, the sentence should have read ‘your festival bag and wellies are probably already in order… ‘
Luckily, my proofreaders picked up on the error, so I avoided the embarrassment of seeing the wrong word published. If only the following top five embarrassing and costly proofreading mistakes were as lucky…
1. Seasoning with a sour taste
Just one single word mistake can result in a disaster of epic proportions, as Australian publishing company Penguin found out in 2010 with the publication The Pasta Bible. In a recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto, aspiring pasta chefs were left bemused by the instruction to season pasta with ‘salt and freshly ground black people’. Uh oh! The error resulted in all 7,000 copies of the cookbook being destroyed to the cost of $20,000, a PR nightmare and many red faces!
2. Come on baby, we’re going to Cyprus!
Back in 2006, Italian airline Alitalia realised the cost of not proofreading their numbers when a flight from Toronto to Cyprus was mistakenly priced at $39 instead of $3,900 – a very tidy discount! Naturally, the offer was too tempting for travellers to turn down and, by the time the error was discovered, 2,000 people had booked up for flights. In the spirit of the customer always being right, Alitalia was forced to honour the price and lost a reported $7.72 million in the process.
3. Sounds like a bargain
Electrical retailer Comet sadly went out of business last year; however, it must look back on mistakes such as this and realise that they certainly didn’t help themselves. In 2002, shoppers on Comet’s online store were able to take advantage of a great offer on an Aiwa hi-fi for the ‘has to be seen to be believed’ price of £8.43. This was a massive reduction on the RRP of £89, but the item was not in the sale, it was simply the victim of some poor proofreading that lost Comet a lot of money.
4. One R or two?
In celebration of President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia back in 2010, the country’s Parliament House came up with a seemingly great idea to produce commemorative mugs and sell them at $10 apiece. However, workers in the gift shop (clearly better proofreaders than the mug makers) were forced to hastily dump the mugs after seeing the name “Barrack Obama” emblazoned across the top. The cost? An estimated $2000 in lost revenue.
5. Thou have been told to cheat
Proofreading errors are not a modern phenomenon and this one, dating back to 1632, is perhaps the worst of all. The London-based printer that printed and distributed 1,000 copies of the King James Bible was fined £300 and forced to destroy all of the copies when a missing word meant that the seventh commandment was changed to ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’. Oops.