Close up of scratching off a lottery scratch card with a coin.

An Overlooked Mistake Can Prove Costly to Your Business

By David Cox | July 19, 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Your business’s bottom line and reputation are worth preventing such errors.

An overlooked mistake sets the stage

I recently read a 2016 online article about a car dealership that worked with a direct marketing firm to create a “sweepstakes ad campaign.” The campaign included 50,000 lottery-style scratch-off tickets. The individual holding the grand prize-winning ticket would receive $1,000.

After mailing out the first 30,000 tickets, an excited resident came in within hours to turn in the winning ticket and claim the grand prize. However, when a second and then a third individual presented their grand prize-winning tickets, something had obviously gone wrong.

The dealership’s general manager looked into the matter immediately and discovered the problem. It started when someone made a keystroke error. Then, whoever proofread the tickets missed the mistake and failed to correct it.

This overlooked mistake resulted in the printing of 50,000 grand prize-winning tickets with prizes totaling $50 million.

Once the mistake goes public, the drama begins
The general manager successfully stopped the mailing of the remaining 20,000 tickets.

However, over the next few weeks, more than 2,000 people contacted the dealership. They were understandably excited to collect their grand prize.

As you can imagine, none were too thrilled to hear about the dealer’s “overlooked mistake” and that there would be no pay-out for their winning tickets. Additionally, local print and broadcast media sources began to share the story due to the extensive public interest.

The cost of managing an overlooked mistake

The dealership’s management offered ticket holders Walmart gift cards and the chance to enter a contest with an even higher grand prize. Furthermore, management was ready to spend $250,000 to follow through with this effort.

Despite the disappointment of many, the dealership’s responsive leadership saved the business’s reputation. Management unquestionably deserves credit for taking responsibility in this matter.

Effective proofreading can prevent costly, embarrassing mistakes

Let’s face it, errors in writing aren’t always easy to spot. A keen eye for detail and a reliable process can help you make sure overlooked mistakes never become public.

Undoubtedly, you want to ensure your written business communications are free from errors that could prove embarrassing or even costly. If you don’t have the people to proof these materials, contracting professional assistance could be a worthwhile investment.

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About the Author: David Cox

David Cox is a Co-owner of TPB Business Copyediting. He writes to encourage us to apply our multidisciplinary training and experiences to develop our current career role further.