Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Cost of NOT Proofreading

To help me avoid mistakes in my business communications, I created a proofreading checklist. What’s one of the items on my proofreading checklist? Check the spelling of proper names. Don’t assume you spelled it right; go to the source to double check the spelling. This was reinforced for me again last month when I had an oops in my newsletter! A reader noticed I didn’t correctly spell Bette Nesmith (not Nesmeth) Graham’s name in last month’s newsletter. Did you catch the misspelling? The reason Sue detected the error is Bette’s son, Michael, was a band member of The Monkees. My apologies, Ms. Nesmith Graham. And, thank you, Sue Tripp! Some errors are just embarrassing.

And, some errors are costly. Did you hear about the $0 to $10 tickets United Airlines accidentally offered online for 15 minutes this past September? Human error. A worker entered a wrong number. United will honor the tickets sold at these free or low-cost fares; the total amount lost was never disclosed.

This mistake could have cost $30 million! In 2007 a New Mexico car dealership sent 30,000 scratch-off tickets for a promotion. Rather than one $1,000 grand prize winner, ALL ticket holders were winners! Evidently, the typo was missed during the proofreading process. A total of 50,000 tickets were supposed to be mailed; the remaining 20,000 weren’t sent after thousands of people went to the dealership claiming they were the $1,000 winner. The small type stated “the odds of winning the $1,000 grand prize are 1 in 50,000.” That disclaimer helped to avoid a very expensive ad campaign.

Proofreading. What does it mean to you and your business? To me, it means checking all work. (Oh really? Then why didn’t I check the spelling of Bette’s last name?) Whether we like it or not, proofreading is a necessary process in the business world to avoid making embarrassing and costly mistakes. In addition to e-mails, blogs, and resumes, we need to check spreadsheets, part numbers, UPCs, diplomas, greeting cards, signs, etc. The list is endless!

From now on I’m going to triple check the spelling of proper names. Wonder what else is on my checklist? Click to see below and to share your checklist.

I’ll be starting a contest next month. Please be sure to read my next blog and newsletter (sign up!) for details!

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro


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