The $250,000 Typo

The next time clients tell you “No, we don’t need a line item for proofreading” you may want to share this story with them.

New York City transit officials recently printed 80,000 subway maps that listed the wrong minimum cost of a pay-per-ride card. The newly printed maps listed the rate as $4.50; actual rate … $5.00. The city’s transit authority had hiked the price for the card by 50 cents, but the change wasn’t caught. By anyone!

The maps were pulled, corrected, and re-printed. And according to the New York Post, the cost for correcting this typo: $250,000.

I’m guessing a proofreader would have cost the city’s transit authority a lot less!

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Proofing Your Own Work? Expect a Few Typos Along the Way

Don’t believe having your work professionally proofread is important? You may change the way you think after reading about one costly error for Macy’s, and the end result.

The upscale chain of stores not only is able to align such stars for its television spots – Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Donald Trump, and Sean Combs, to name a few – but thanks to a costly catalog typo, the stars above aligned for a few lucky customers as well.

Costly typo for Macy's

Macy’s costly catalog typo

According to WFAA-TV, the retailer mailed out their catalog to customers advertising a “Super Buy,” and was it ever! A big HUGE thank you to the typo that listed a $1,500 necklace –made of sterling silver and 14-karat gold with diamond accents – for the low, low “Super Buy” price of only … $47.

Macy’s did not fulfill all orders placed for this piece of jewelry, but for the few customers who were lucky enough to take advantage of this mistake, kudos to you!

Look, this isn’t a huge decision to make: a proofreader is vital to clean copy. Have your work proofread, and proofread it again before sending the files to the printer. Then, for good measure, proof the print proof. Because the fact of the matter is, typos happen. All. The. Time. So hire a proofreader to perform this task: don’t expect the copywriter who has looked at his/her own copy a gazillion times, and knows it by heart, to know what the copy should say. Because they will miss something, I can almost guarantee it. No, invest in the services of a proofreader, a fresh set of eyes, to rip through that copy and find every single typo in your copy. And find them they will. Because that’s their job, and oh, how proofreaders love finding copy mistakes!

Unfortunately, this story does NOT have a happy ending: the copywriter who worked on this particular catalog was fired. For not catching her own costly typo.

This would not have happened if a proofreader had been on the project, too. Just sayin’.

There Blog Isn’t Their Anymore – What?

More in the way of the most common mistakes writers make: there versus their.

Not quite sure why this one trips up so many people; I assume it’s due more to a typo than actual error. And like most grammar errors I’ve blogged about earlier in allyah’s INKWELL, this one won’t be caught by spellchecker but by your keen eye. Proof your work. Read it out loud. Check to see if it makes sense.

And now for the grammar lesson:

“There” is used to refer to a place, as in “yo, let’s go there.” “There” is also used as a pronoun, as in “there is always hope.”

“Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their blog rocks” or “their opinions are right on target.” When using “their” always take the “that’s ours” test. Are you talking about more than one person? Do they possess something? If you can answer yes to both questions, “their” is what you should be using; not “there.”

And that concludes today’s lesson.