3 Costly Spelling Errors

By Amanda C. Haury | November 09, 2012 AAA
3 Costly Spelling Errors

"To err is human, to forgive divine," said Alexander Pope, esteemed English poet and writer. Everyone makes mistakes, and many mistakes can be overlooked. However, certain errors can lead to penalties and repercussions. In today's technological age, where writers, bloggers and social networking users are plugging away at their keyboards at staggering warp speed, spelling errors are common.

Although almost every computer with a word processor is equipped with a spell-checker and a grammar-checker, some spelling errors might still crop up. Sometimes these mistakes can have disastrous consequences. Spelling errors in a public forum are not only embarrassing, they can also add up to big financial losses. Here are just a few examples of financially disastrous spelling mistakes.

Even NASA Makes Mistakes
In 1962, Mariner 1 launched into space and thus began the story of the most expensive hyphen in history. The craft launched on July 22, 1962 and was the United States' first attempt at an inter-planetary mission. During the ascent, Fortran code language had to be used for computations. A hyphen was missing in the code, which caused the Mariner 1's destination to change. As a result, 5 minutes after launch the Range Safety Officer issued the destruct command on the approximate $80 million spacecraft. The spelling error ended up costing NASA millions from the failed mission.

Spelling Error on Chilean Currency
Another example of a disastrous spelling error occurred in 2008, when 1.5 million Chilean coins, of the 50-peso denomination, were released with the South American country's name spelled incorrectly. The engraver, Pedro Urzua Lizana, misspelled Chile as [Chiie], and the mistake was not caught until a coin collector reported the error. By that time, 1.5 million coins were already distributed to the public. The mistake not only caused the country significant embarrassment, but several Chilean mint employees lost their jobs because of this massive error.


A Costly Election Error
In Oneida County, N.Y., 130,000 voter ballots were printed with President Barack Obama's name spelled incorrectly. The ballots omitted the "c" from the president's first name. This error cost the county over $75,000. According to an article released by UticaOD.com, the county executives discovered the error just a few business days before election day. They contacted the printer, but unfortunately the ballots were already printed. The printer was willing to reprint the ballots with the correct spelling, but the county would be responsible for paying.

Credibility Questions
When spelling errors crop up in written publications, such as online publications or in print, it raises questions as to the credibility of the writer and the document as a whole. While some spelling errors are clearly typographical mistakes, others can alter the meaning of a document altogether. According to an article released by BBC News in July 2011, U.K. companies are losing millions in online sales due to spelling errors. The reason for this is partially due to the Internet reader's short attention span. Online users are easily distracted, and once a spelling error is spotted, many online readers lose faith in the quality of a website's content.

The Bottom Line
In cases where spelling errors alter a document's meaning; cost companies and citizens money; and affect a person, company or a group's reputation; it goes beyond the state of a simple mistake and becomes a financial liability. In today's modern age, where spelling- and grammar-checking software is installed in most word processors, it seems like a simple thing to double-check your document before hitting the send button.

However, many people neglect this simple step. In the future, protect the integrity of your document by verifying that all words are spelled correctly by reading it for a second time before sending. This extra step can help save time, considerable amounts of money and perhaps even your job.

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