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16 employees who made a $50,000+ mistake at work reveal how they didn't get fired.

16 employees who made a $50,000+ mistake at work reveal how they didn't get fired.


To err is human, but sending the company you work for into debt over a careless mistake can be a terrifying journey of apology emails and prayers to the money gods...

So, when a Reddit user asked, 'Workers who caused a ~$50,000+ accident for their company but *didn’t* get fired, what happened?' people were ready to share their most expensive mistake that somehow didn't get them terminated.


I was an irrigator for a large alpine tree farm. One boss sprayed field with a really expensive pesticide. Other boss didn’t know and told me to water the trees.

I washed off $60,000 worth of chemicals, got yelled yet, but other boss stepped in and took the blame. It was actually a great place to work. - DaCaton


Was installing a $80k circuit card in a machine. New card looked wrong, couldn't tell why at first. Supervisor took this to mean I was an idiot, installed the card. Card smoked. Turns out, it looked wrong because it was missing a few IC chips that had to be installed immediately before use. - Saesama


I do irrigation for high end estates. One year i forgot to unhook one battery operated zone from a faucet. The owners returned home in the spring to 6' of water in their house, with a waterfall running down the grand staircase. Had to gut most of their $10,000,000 house. Thank Jeebus for business insurance! - Ramblesnaps


I was 17 and I started working at one of my dads businesses. When I joined, they were selling 5,000 or leather jackets a month in Europe. I was very inexperienced but I convinced my dad to let me handle it. He agreed but said he’ll hire an advisor for me so I don’t make any colossal mistakes.

On my second day, I authorized a previously canceled order to be shipped which was worth about $68,000. The jackets were ready but due to being late on the delivery date, a new Letter of Credit needed to be opened which ensures guarantee of payment.

I spoke to the customer in London who said he will pay if I ship the items but he won’t open the LC because that’s going through a lot of channels. I authorized the shipment and just a few days later the company closed and the guys who owned the company skipped town. My dad didn’t say a word to me remarkably but I learnt my lesson anyway. - barrbill


Used to work for manufacturing pharmaceutical drug testing products; we'd make the assays and control material designed to test for drugs. These assays are used fairly quickly and a single order could be anywhere from 1-15k Liters of the stuff.

A colleague placed a pallet of 4, 100L drums next to our plastic wrap station; we'd wrap everything in plastic wrap before shipping to make sure nothing falls over. He placed it on the 'for pickup' side instead of the 'for wrapping' queue and another colleague picked it up with a forklift to move to the shipping area.

The drums fell off the pallet and we lost an estimated $250k USD and about a week's worth of progress. He wasn't fired. They worked him to the bone until he couldn't handle the load anymore and he just stopped showing up for work one day. - DietBees


Was working in investment banking at the time, M&A specifically. Had just closed a ~$4 billion deal, the fee for which was about $10 million for the bank. I was a new Analyst, and this was my first time preparing an invoice.

Turns out you need to include our legal fees in the invoice, which came out to the tune of ~$150k. Invoice went out without the fees, client paid the ~$10 million for our advisory services. Didn’t want to look like dinguses after the fact, so we ate the $150k legal expenses.

Managing Director on the deal wasn’t thrilled, but basically just said he should have paid closer attention to the invoice I prepared. Could have gone differently, but whatever. I ended up being directly responsible for netting the bank like $120 million in fees over the next two years, so at the end of the day nobody really cared. - gufmo


One of our largest clients had overpaid due to a system issue in the billing software. This client pays us USUALLY $5,000,000 Annually, so they are TOP priority when there's an error. They wanted us to cut a check for the over payment immediately, and of course we wanted to do it for them ASAP as well.

HOWEVER, I was the one who was to do the math on how much the error costs and how much money to cut them a check for. And it had to be done THAT DAY. There was AT LEAST 100,000,000 entries in our database for this customer I had to comb through, and nobody in the office who could program me a macro. I had to LEARN how to write a macro in Excel THAT NIGHT!

Anyhow, I sent them a check for $67,000 more than was appropriate, and we didn't catch the error until we audited the account the following year. Of course, they insisted since it's our error we should not withdraw the check. And if it's a choice between $67,000 or $5,000,000 a year, well...I got a VERY strong talking to and told to be more careful next time. - [deleted]


Not me, but my mother had started a new job in advertising. New manager was 'too busy' to show her how to properly operate the system and the manual is completely useless to anyone who isn't already familiar with said system. She proceeds to make a mistake that renders the new ads of several companies essentially useless across an entire country. The ads can't be reshot.

Each ad costs millions of dollars to produce, film, get approved etc. Ad company had to reimburse the cost to each company while also having to explain such a monumental f*ck up to national TV channels. Manager got called up to head office because, quite rightly, they were to blame. Neither got fired though. - LordUnderbite


I tried to copy/paste a website from production to test. I somehow cut and pasted; client lost a good $100k in website revenue while the site was down and nobody noticed until the next morning. I was relatively new and my managers have done this job before so they were waiting to congratulate me on my first big screw-up.

Another co-worker had completely deleted a production database with no backups before a week prior, so it wasn't even the biggest screw-up we've had in the department. - [deleted]


A friend of mine was filling up an industrial tractor tire and it exploded in his face. He hadn't been properly trained how to do it. He was in a coma for a few months, had facial reconstructive surgery, and tons of therapy afterwards. The company paid for all of his medical bills. I'm not sure how much it actually was, but I'd wager it was ~$50,000+. After he recovered he was moved to an office job with the same company. - cold_toast_n_butter


I worked as a toxicologist for a short period of time. We had these giant machines that would screen urine for drugs, and each drug had an assay that would be stored in these giant plastic containers with nozzles on the end so we could easily fill the machines storage tanks. When the containers got low, about once a week, we would fill them with fresh assay that came in boxes, and it would take about 3-4 boxes to fill each container.

My buddy and I were filling these containers, shooting the shit, when my buddy realized he put the wrong drug assay into the wrong container. Like THC in that Cocaine bin, or something like that. He immediately had to tell the supervisor of the cross contamination. That bin had to be drained, cleaned with DI water, and refilled.

We found out that he wasted close to $40,000 in product. Each box of assay was between $10,000-15,000 depending on the drug. Since he already had 2-3 boxes in that container, plus the one that he poured in, it was quite a costly fuck up. He did not get fired.

Side story involving the same guy: After the urine is test on the machines, we would have to take out the 100s of vials of urine and dump them into these 50 gallon drums. The vials would always stick to the trays so you would have to knock them off. We would wear full face masks, gloves, waterproof lab coats, etc

. One day a droplet of urine flew back from his vials as he was knocking them off and miraculously landed directly on his lower lid. Do you know your body's immediate response to having something wet hit your lips? It is to stick your tongue out.

So poor Joe sticks his tongue out and immediate tastes some random person's urine on his lip. He drops everything and immediately runs for the bathroom and gives his mouth a liquid soap bath. Meanwhile, I am laughing so hard I am crying as he runs out. Good times. - honeycakes


Drove a dump truck into a 20ft deep pit full of steel re-bar...jumped out at last second which most likely saved my life. Wasn't old enough to drive...was told to do so by older employee in position of responsibility...did what I was told..

Put it in 1st rather than reverse...looked over shoulder...took foot off gas...and went forwards rather than backwards...

Rebar was destroyed...dump truck was a write off. As I was underage I was just given 2 weeks off and told to keep quiet...I guess they claimed on the insurance and said someone else was driving it. - dekker87


I work in casinos and we offer lines of credit to the customers. A customer sat down at a table and asked for $50,000 which the pit manager gave them. Had the pit manager check our system, she would have seen that his credit has been suspended. She starts freaking out.

The patron already lost the money by the time she realized the line was suspended. The customer refused to pay since he never signed anything. The state fined us another $50,000 for failure to follow our procedures. Pit manager kept her job even though it was the second time she made a mistake of this caliber. - thrdroc


I was programming a cnc making prototype directional drilling tools, there were hundreds of thousands of lines of code generated, I made a decimal error editing a few of them, scrapped a 120k part. Luckily we made 2 of them in case of an error. Boss wasnt real happy, but in the end the customer was happy and ordered many more and ended up being a major customer of ours. It's a bad feeling though, you get a pit in your stomach upon realizing the mistake. - Evil_Ned_Flanderses


I worked in IT for a certain multi-national brewery for a time. We were carting some servers out of an old datacenter and into the new consolidated datacenter in the next building over. The servers fell off the cart and shattered on the ground. Into a puddle. ~$56K all dead.

Me and the other tech cleaned it up, put the stuff in storage, then went to tell the boss. He pulled us into his office, closed the door, and sat us down. I was convinced we were both going to be fired.

Instead, he started telling us a story about how he had been the youngest guy on the team when they first started rolling out the idea of computerized inventory management. That meant he had to fly out to each warehouse, oversee the offloading and install of the minicomputer from .

At the first warehouse, he watched the truck back up to the loading docks, where pallets of canned and kegged beer sat, waiting to ship out. The minicomputer, roughly eight feet long, four feet high, and 3 feet deep, was rolled off the truck and onto the dock. He inspected it, since it cost close to a quarter million dollars.

Once he unwrapped it and saw no damage, he accepted and signed the shipping papers. Then they huddled up to decide how best to move the computer to it's new location.

Unfortunately, the computer was a) on wheels, and b) on a not level warehouse floor. While they were discussing, the computer started rolling. It plowed at a surprising speed into a stack of pallets of canned beer, splitting thousands of cans, fountain-ing beer all over the warehouse floor, crushing and soaking the new minicomputer.

The truck driver and the vendor tech straightened up, shuffled the signed acceptance papers and briskly walked out the warehouse door, letting them know to call when they were ready to order a new unit.

We did not end up in trouble, since my boss figured if he hadn't gotten fired for exploding a computer and thousands of dollars in product, he could hardly fire us. - tansit


Blew out $300,000 worth of lights. A children's museum in Santa Ana CA has a massive cube on its roof as a sort of landmark. It used to have the edges light up at night. I was told by a supervisor it needed to be shut off, explained I didn't know how...

She basically told me to figure it out (wasn't mean about it, but was clear). Long story short, it cost way too much to fix, so anyone from Orange County CA now knows why 'the cube' has been dark for the last 10 years. - wokeupquick2

Sources: Reddit
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