This year proved to be a big year for dumb business moves and CNNMoney brings them all together in a single feature – Dumbest Moments in Business. From Kenneth Cole’s Tweet about a new product launch causing the Egyptian uprising to Chrysler’s slam against Detroit drivers, CNNMoney has them all. Although there are more than 20 included in the feature story, the following three moments are my picks for the dumbest business moves of the year.
Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded off of the Gulf Coast, awarded its executives more than $800,000 in bonuses for a fantastic safety record. The proxy statement for the year actually states that 2010 was the safest in the company’s history “notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico.” I’d say that’s a pretty big black mark on any safety record. Eventually executives donated a portion of their bonuses to the Deepwater Horizon Memorial Fund.
Bank of America’s decision to implement a $5/month fee for debit card use caused a huge backlash. The public relations nightmare involved customers flocking to credit unions or small local banks, and eventually Bank of America reversed its decision. Of course, bank customers are prepared for B of A and other major banks to implement other revenue-boosting fees.
I admit, I kind of like Austan Goolsbee — he makes economics fun and easy to understand. Goolsbee was the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers when he went on the "Daily Show" to proclaim that the nation was going to “grow our way out of this thing.” Goolsbee was talking about the economic mess that we’re dealing with, and although I like the guy, this was a big oops on his part. Here we are, 10 months later and we certainly haven’t grown our way out of anything.