20 Times Stubborn People Made Bad Business Calls And Had To Pay

Published 1 year ago

Business is not in everyone’s blood. Those are just the facts of life. Its hard to have knowledge, foresight, vision, risk-assessment skills and leadership qualities. A businessman needs to inherently have the ability to revoke emotional responses and be objective in their decision-making to succeed. But, everybody seems to think they can run a business these days on just education and appointment. To be led by ego rather than business acumen, ultimately leads to the downfall of whole countries leave alone businesses as we have witnessed in the recent past.

A reddit thread called, “What is the worst business decision you’ve ever seen?” garnered a huge response with many folks stepping forward to reveal some interesting stories about bad decisions they witnessed that led to businesses failing. Many have learning points, some have sad foreseeable outcomes, but they were all avoidable. Read through the collection of stories below and share your own if you have witnessed a similar ‘worst business decision ever’ moment.

More info: Reddit

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Image source: pete1729, J. H.

A developer my dad worked with sold off a beautiful piece of land next to a river in a very desirable area, he sold it to another developer. The new developer cut down every tree on the 6 acre site, as he said, “he wanted to see what he had”. The land then started to slide into the river, rendering it worthless *and* ugly.


Image source: RedDragons8, tomislav medak

In the early days of the personal computer, a fairly prominent developer Osborne went tits up because they showed off their new model far in advance of when it was actually going to be available. So predictably dealers immediately cancelled all orders for their current computer model in preparation for the new improved version. Inventory stacked up and they were bankrupt before the new model ever came out…..
Its known as the Osborne Effect.


Image source: anon, Mike Kalasnik

Circuit City was pretty stupid. When the recession hit, they decided to stop selling appliances and instead focus on DVDs and televisions and such. (Appliances are known as being a recession proof item. People always need refrigerators and microwaves. They don’t need DVDs.) They also wanted to cut down on labor costs, so they fired a lot of managers and assistant managers, and just left a lot of entry level employees because they were cheaper to pay. Well, entry level employees don’t really know how to fully run a store, so pretty much every Circuit City became dogshit.


Image source: USSMarauder, Mike Mozart

Target’s expansion into Canada

collapsed in 2 years and cost them Billions


Image source: Strokedoutbear, Valeria Boltneva

In my hometown there was an independent fast food and homemade ice cream place, long established and run by close friends. It was a goldmine. They decided to sell and retire. New owners immediately changed everything. Painted it a wild color, removed some attractions on the grounds, changed the 60 year old menu and switched to commercially made ice cream. They lasted 8 months.


Image source: TheBoomExpress, Sarah Stierch

My late great uncle started a fish and chips restaurant. He had his own unique recipe for the fish and it was very popular. Businessmen had offered him thousands in cash for it over the years, but he always declined. After about 40 or so years, he decided to retire and hand the business over to an ambitious recent college grad. He offered to give her the recipe and even volunteer his services for a bit while she got comfortable in her new role as owner. She declined both and within a year, she was forced to sell the restaurant after coming close to declaring bankruptcy. My great uncle died and took the recipe with him to his grave


Image source: Sarahlpatt, Sam Lion

There was a shopping plaza near me with a fairly large gift store. Not a gift shop in the museum sense, basically like a Hallmark store but independent. It wasn’t exactly bustling, but they apparently did solid business and a lot of people in the community really appreciated having it there as a place to buy gifts and wrapping paper and such. The owners of the shopping plaza raise rents to the point that the shop goes out of business. The reason this was stupid is that the store front sat vacant for like 15 entire years. Seriously, this place closed when I was a child and I’m now 27 and the vacancy was only taken over very recently. If their goal in raising the rent was to have a more profitable store move in to that space, they certainly failed and missed out on decades of rent as a result.


Image source: HaElfParagon, Yan Krukov

I used to work for a company that was bleeding money. In order to try and save money, they decided to stop honoring returns/refunds, but still advertised that they did.

Whenever someone would ask for a refund, you were supposed to tell the person that it would be processed in the next 6-8 weeks, then get them off the phone.

6-8 weeks later, when they ask where their money is, you were supposed to apologize and say their paperwork got put in the wrong stack, and that it would be put in the correct stack and would then be processed in the next 6-8 weeks.

If they complained about the length of time, you were supposed to tell them you can ask your supervisor to expedite it, and they should see it in 4-6 weeks instead.

If they threatened legal action after months and months, you were supposed to tell them to contact the company legal department ( we didn’t have a company legal department) and then hang up on them. Then, make a note in their account. No one should field calls from that account further.

More than half the call center quit in a single week in protest of this decision.

Company collapsed in on itself within a few months.


I never understand ads that start off insulting me. There’s one I see on YouTube all the time that starts with “your skin care routine sucks” and goes on to try bullying me into buying their product…. like that’s the best way to get me to avoid your business at all costs even if it might be a good product

Image source: wieners69696969


Image source: PhillipLlerenas, https://www.flickr.com/photos/genericbrandproductions/4528923985/

I worked at Hollywood Video from 2006 to 2009. At that time Netflix was growing by leaps and bounds and our revenue was dwindling from year to year.

Instead of copying Netflix’s model and using their more recognizable brand name to edge them out of business, Hollywood shrugged their shoulders and continued renting single DVDs for $4.99 for 3 days plus late fees.

Where they at now?


There’s a major ice cream place in my hometown. Big building, tourist attraction sort of thing. Then the owner decided to post up an “all hail trump” sign. And when I say sign, I mean a huge tarp on the front of the store that you could see across town. I live in a liberal minded town. Business immediately went down the shitter.

What was once a bustling store is dead empty on Saturdays.

EDIT: the sign was actually “In Trump we trust.” But both basically mean the same thing. Sign was still a huge a*s tarp.

Image source: KaiserBreaker02


Image source: OhTheHueManatee, Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

I worked for a video store during the time Finding Nemo came out on DVD. The video store I worked for got a huge fishtank put inside. It was so big they had to shrink the game rental section. The tank had clown fish in it. The tank was also locked and we couldn’t feed the fish or clean it. This was supposed to be done by someone who I never saw come in. So the tank ended up filled with a bunch of dead Nemos in a nasty as f**k tank. Needless to say parents were very unhappy about it. The local paper did a small article about it too which didn’t help an already dying store. I have no idea what they thought an expensive as Hell fish tank would do for their business.


Image source: kor_hookmaster, cottonbro studio

Property management company I used to work for had a number of student properties and high-rises that were always a struggle to fill in the summer months when students went out of town.

Head office came up with an offer that anyone who signed for two years got the four summer months at 50% off. Sounds like a good deal, 50% rent is much better than zero. We signed tons of students.

However the lease templates that head office sent over showed the reduced rent rate on the lease rather than just adding the discount as a separate addendum. I noticed this discrepancy and reported it – and was subsequently ignored.

Which meant the students were signing a legal document that guaranteed them 50% rent for two years.

The company lost hundreds of thousands in revenue.


Image source: amalgamas, Tima Miroshnichenko

Take a help desk that has been consistently rated extremely well by its customers for their first-call-resolve, attitude, and helpfulness; outsource it to a company that’s been rated towards the bottom of the list for over a decade because it costs less than the salaries/benefits of your former in house help desk. Then complain when your first-call-resolve drops through the floor and your customer satisfaction is at an all time low.


Around last year this time of year, I know someone in their early 50’s that sold all of their investments (at a significant dip from the highs) and decided to start producing and selling hand sanitizer in little bottles out of their garage. Seeing it as a big opportunity with the virus.

They spent everything on the bottles, labels, plastic drums full of sanitizer (at a huge markup), hiring locals people to fill the bottles and put the labels on, and then a website. By the time they had inventory, they realized that they couldn’t compete on price with places like Walmart or other big box stores that had finally caught up to the shortages by mid-summer. They also didn’t realize that selling on Amazon was gated for that category so you had no chance of selling through there as a new seller. So now they basically have a garage full of old hand sanitizer, and no savings.

Image source: HandyDrunkar


This one involves my Dad. Back in the ’80s he decided he wanted to teach people how to use Lotus 123, Excel, MS Word, etc. So he bought a bunch of computers for a classroom, and he wrote interactive learning programs, and printed out manuals and such. Even without advertising, he had people asking to join his class BUT … he was never quite ready. This Lotus 123 program could use more work. He wasn’t ready for a class, this MS Word tutorial isn’t quite done. The perfectionist in him wouldn’t let him expose the less than perfect programs/class to people … just yet. He turned down paying customers for fear that it wasn’t just perfect. He had taken a loan out from a friend to finance this, but never made a dime. He paid the loan back by selling our cottage, something he regrets to this day. And why? Because he was afraid to be flawed.

That taught me a lesson though, as the old saying goes “Perfect is the enemy of done”. He could easily have made money and taught his classes, refining the programs to student feedback. He could have covered deficiencies by teaching in person. He was afraid it wasn’t perfect, so it was never done. We don’t talk about it, or the cottage that we built together (we had the foundation and structure built by pros, then the whole family pitched in to build the interior when we were teens).

It saddens me more because it was what he wanted to do, and he went for it … but not quite.

Image source: ClownfishSoup


Image source: El_Voador, George Milton

A radio station i used to listen to recently changed their format from 80% music, 20% talk show to 100% talk show. Then they were like “oh you can still listen to the music but it’s only going to be on our app.”


Image source: Squigglepig52, Karolina Grabowska

I worked for a design/printing place for years, and the owner went from amazing idea to stupid idea on a regular basis. don’t get me wrong – guy is a brilliant designer, totally took advantage of new tech every chance he could and made it work.

But – he was cheap and greedy, so, ruined what would have been lucrative long term business relationships.

So – we did this huge order of promo supplies for a fairly big on-line casino. huge, for him. about a 20k order, with good margins, and the chance at long term work with this company.

While it was being picked up, on the spur of the moment, he decides to pad the bill by about 200 bucks. the guy picking it up was the son of the casino owner, and literally watched the boss do this while I stood at teh till.

The customer looks at me, smiles, and pays the bill. With a huge wad of cash. And says “I know it’s not your fault, but – my family is very wealthy. We didn’t get that way letting people rip us off. Tell the boss over in the corner he just f****d himself out of a lot of money, because we loved the work.” in a voice meant to carry.

Edit to clarify who was paying. And padding means he increased the bill over what he had quoted the job to cost.


**Insert Yahoo bad business decisions**

1998: Yahoo refuses to buy Google for 1 million dollars

2004: Yahoo tries to buy Google for 3 billion dollars. Google asks for 5 billion. Yahoo refuses again.

2008: Yahoo turns down an acquisition offer from Microsoft for 40 billion dollars.

2016: Yahoo sold to Verizon for 4.6 billion

Image source: Invisiblesword


Image source: Umbraldisappointment, Ivan Radic

Tumblr banning porn was a huge mistake what turned a relevant and highly profiting social platform into a barely known failure.

It was worth more than one billion dollars and got sold for 3 million, it took only a year for its traffic to disappear and the worth of the service to lose 99.9% worth.


Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

Got wisdom to pour?



#business idea, bad decisions, bad management, bad managers
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