Nominate The Biggest Business Debacles Of 2010

With so many disasters, debacles and let-downs to choose from, we’re asking the savvy readers of Consumerist to help us winnow down this year’s list of embarrassing business debacles to five nominees that you’ll vote on later this week.

So put on your thinking caps and look back over the past year. Add your nominees in the comments below or shoot us an e-mail at with “2010 debacle” in the subject line.


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  1. knyghtryda says:

    This is easy. BP.

    Actually, BP went far beyond debacle and lands squarely into the disaster category.

    • PunditGuy says:

      I think my favorite part of all that was when a spokesperson for BP was asked about the disaster plan that the company had filed with the government. In it, the company claimed that it had the capacity to handle a spill of up to some ungodly amount of oil, like 250,000 barrels a day. At the time, I think they were saying that the Gulf spill was something like 1/50th of that, and yet they obviously weren’t containing hardly anything. The spokesperson insisted that it was “too soon” to talk about such things.

      Can we talk about them now?

      • dustindmw says:

        Agreed. This shouldn’t even be up for debate and I’m a little surprised consumerist could be so dumb as to even allow such a survey. I mean come on. The only contest here would have been who had the second Biggest Business Debacle Of 2010 behind BP’s new “bringing oil to american shores” campaign.

    • zzyzzx says:

      I am also thinking that with BP, there is no reason for any survey, since nobody else will even come close.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Definitely BP for destroying an entire ecosystem and getting away with it.
      Restaurants here are no longer carrying “Gulf Shrimp”.

    • runswithscissors says:

      WOAH WOAH WOAH. Hold on now.

      BP did an internal investigation and found themselves not guilty of anything.

      So I’d say they are off the hook for that little tiny spill.

      “Right, politician-holding-a-bag-of-cash?”

  2. qwickone says:

    Banks foreclosing on houses that they don’t hold a mortgage for.

  3. phildbs says:

    Digg v4… I know I stopped using it and switched to Reddit.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      And you’re by no means the only person. I’m another of the many who abandoned Digg after they completely screwed up their site. But if you really want to see the impact then go here:

      And compare to Reddit slowly and steadily climbs constantly from 2009 onward. Digg takes a huge dive in Q1 2010 and never recovers.

    • _UsUrPeR_ says:

      I did the same thing. Reddit is now quite superior. I still visit digg, but I have the cloying notion that the top digs are manipulated, along with the front page stories appearing with ~50 diggs, and 3 people saying the equivalent of “this is funny” and “I agree with this statement”.

  4. Raekwon says:

    Gap, iTunes and other failed logo/branding changes.

    Microsoft Kin

    • failurate says:

      But the advertising for the Kin put sexual predators right in our face in a way that only Chris Hanson had done before.

  5. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Judith Griggs/ Cooks Source
    Apple death grip
    Toyota recalls

  6. Consumeristing says:

    How about an extra frothy combo of business (insurance and pharmacy lobbyist) and government (Pelobama) fail that is Obamacare? One can’t do FAIL spectacularly without the other. Because I remember dreaming of the day when “universal” healthcare leaves 30 million uninsured and be forced to buy insurance from the private industry. I mean, isn’t this like Canada?

  7. SpendorTheCheap says:

    Edsel Coke

  8. ryder02191 says:

    I think it pretty much has to be BP or Toyota. Also, does employing Phil Villarreal count?

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      OMG – just knock it the hell off already!

      • PLATTWORX says:

        Why? That was quite direct…. but the problems with Phil Villarreal and this site are epic. No matter what readers say… nothing is done so you end up sharpening the tone.

        • failurate says:

          There is nothing “epic” about this site, problems or otherwise. Just skip the articles that have his by line.

          I get the feeling that you are a “blood in the water” type whose thirst won’t be quenched until a guy is unemployed.

          This is a free not-for-profit site. There is really no sense in getting worked up over a few poorly done articles.

          • Sidecutter says:

            Not for profit has little to do with anything. The site presents itself as a knowledgeable expert source on consumer matters. This image carries with it certain expectations in regards to the quality of the site and the professionalism of the staff when it comes to the journalism they provide.

            I have to say, Phil doesn’t meet that expectation. At all.

          • jason in boston says:

            People have been asking for a non-phil RSS feed for a while now.

          • ryder02191 says:

            Consumerist was far more informative, helpful, coherent, useful, and superior in every other regard when it was a Gawker-owned, for-profit site. The advent of Consumers’ Union and Phil turned what was once a helpful site into a haven for baseless whiners, inane complainers, and entitled morons (take the most recent Toyota story, for example). It’s far from coincidence that a significant percentage of respected, long-time members no longer read (or comment, at least) this site.

            • xnihilx says:

              I could not agree more. I’ve said this almost exact thing in the comments of articles. I’m not sure why I even come here anymore. Maybe the RARE helpful article. MOST of them are just whiners anymore.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Oh, come on…I think he does make more careless mistakes than the other editors, yet gets mostly undeserved and disproportionate abuse from the peanut gallery…and I still thought that that was funny.

      • ryder02191 says:

        Please, it’s a joke. To take a page out of your crowd’s playbook: “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      ryder: give us a break and give it a rest. Thank you.

      • ryder02191 says:

        Don’t like it, don’t read it (I can play that game too). Also note the higher positive response than negative response to my comment.

    • jason in boston says:

      The only thing I don’t agree with in your statement is Toyota. They shouldn’t have settled.

  9. rahntwo says:

    Stimulus Package

  10. blogger X says:

    FloTV. Who used it???

  11. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    GM says we’ve paid back all our government loans!! Oh…wait… those? No, those aren’t paid off persey….

  12. blogger X says:

    Does the Vikings resigning Brett Favre or the Yankees failing to sign Cliff Lee count?

  13. dolemite says:

    Man, there were a lot:

    Facebook privacy
    Gawker password loss
    Banks illegally foreclosing by using robosigners
    Toyota acceleration
    iPhone 4 loss of signal
    3D movies

  14. PLATTWORX says:

    GM has paid most of it’s loan, has been making a profit and did not have to lay off tens of thousands of workers. What else did you want from that bailout? Should we have not done it and watched the American auto industry collapse?

    I look forward to how you would have handled GM’s crisis. Begin….

    • AntiNorm says:

      GM didn’t have a crisis. They saw the banks getting their bailouts, and then ran to the government with their hands out crying “I want some too!” like a spoiled four-year-old.

  15. Slave For Turtles says:

    * BP
    * Toyota
    * Bank of America seizing stuff that doesn’t belong to them
    * anything jewelry-type stuff with cadmium
    * total letdown with net neutrality (I suppose that’s a business issue)

  16. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Microsoft Kin and Google Nexus are tied, IMO.

  17. schiff says:

    Tropicana packaging.

  18. WhyUs? says:

    The biggest debacle has to be the short-sighted mentality of many businesses that have been using this difficult time as an excuse to lay off their most experienced and valuable employees to cut costs and increase profits.

    I’m convinced that many of the individual debacles you see from BP, Toyota, BofA,, could probably be traced to some inexperienced, and less-expensive idiot in the company who was “promoted” to a higher-level position because the more-experienced staffer who would have foreseen the consequences of some of these bone-headed, cost-cutting, short-termed decisions that led to may of these debacles; was raking in too-high a salary and was cut.

    And of course, there’s now hard data that all the jobs getting shipped overseas is actually harming the US economy:

  19. The cake is a lie! says:

    The Kardashian Kard has to be on the list. What a joke…

    I think we can’t forget the Gap’s new logo attempt either. The debacle which almost was…

  20. SilentAgenger says:

    I still say “New” Coke was not a failure. If anything, it cemented “Classic” Coke as the cola by which all colas are measure.

    • macoan says:

      …. and Coke saved a fortune because when “Classic Coke” returned, it was now WITHOUT the expensive sugar – and with the cheaper High Fructose Corn Syrup.

      …. Coke could not just switch or people would have noticed.

      They first took it off the market, then when the brought it back – most people haven’t had it for awhile and did not notice the change.

      New Coke – one of the genius moved in business.

  21. SilentAgenger says:


    Damn quick mouse trigger finger. Damn no edit feature.

  22. AKaplan says:

    In no particular order:
    1) BP and the failboat that was the Deepwater Horizon.
    2) Foreclosure Fraudgate – main focus on Bank of America, which swallowed the toxic sludge factory that was Countrywide Financial.
    3) Facebook’s “privacy” settings. Loopholes exposed by the Wall Street Journal, who also outed Zynga for selling off user ID’s.
    4) Gap’s “new and improved” logo.
    5) Blockbuster – for even thinking they still have a viable business model.
    6) Toyota and their wonderful breaks (a pair of which are on my Prius and still don’t work quite right).

  23. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    The taxpayer-funded bank bailouts. Now it looks like many of them are headed toward failure anyway.

    And I wish they’d stop saying the federal government bailed them out. Where do they think they got the money for this little exercise? The Easter Bunny?

  24. The Lone Gunman says:

    Every corporate and governmental press release written in Newspeak that had me wondering if I should be singing Oceania,’tis for Thee.

    We have a good economy and job market. We have ALWAYS had a good economy…

  25. Judah says:

    How could anyone or anything beat BP ruining the entire Gulf of Mexico region?

  26. jaydez860 says:

    I think this will come down to the BP oil spill and the Toyota recalls.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    the biggest business debacle has yet to happen, but will come before week end. it’s when MTV decides to drop a ball full of snooki on times square this year.,,20447913,00.html

  28. Straspey says:

    Here’s one:

    Personal Seat Licenses

    $20,000 for the right to purchase season tickets (another $5,000+) for the Giants or Jets.

    And those tickets on the 50-yard line which have been in your family for years ?

    Well – you’ve been moved to the nose-bleed section.

    • failurate says:

      As with the golden poo award, for me, an entertainment company will never get a vote.

      I am sad your sports team hosed up the ticketing process, but banks are kicking people out their houses for no reason, a company is trying to kill the entire f’n ocean, millions of people who want to work can’t find work, and a hospital just bankrupted another family.

      But yeah, sorry to hear about your tickets to those games.

      • Straspey says:

        First of all, I never said they were my tickets and I’ve never had season tickets to anything.

        Secondly – the poll asked for suggestions about the biggest business debacles – and this certainly counts as one because the NFL is one of the biggest businesses in this country.

        Did you even pay attention to what this poll is about ?

  29. failurate says:

    I think BP has to take the cake.

    I think Toyota is close, but so many people tried to rip them off during their times of trouble that to me they became more a victim than an actual perpetrator of bad business.

  30. seamer says:

    How about the companys taking oil out of Nigeria, and have been performing their own BP-like oil spills on a massive scale? They surely dwarf what BP did.

  31. stint7 says:

    I would have to say BP without a doubt. The company couldn’t handle a spilled cup of coffee let alone an oil spill. The public relations commercials made me even more sick. Clean the spill up and stop investing money into hiring actors that say they live in the gulf and will be here until the end.

    I don’t think Toyota is even in the top 10. Sure, a lot of it was their fault but I think people trying to take it one step ahead and fake issues caused a backlash. Toyota is a hugely popular car brand that is generally associated with quality. I would still by one, no questions asked.

  32. RobSmalls says:

    What about that guy in PA that wanted fresh fries from McDonald’s, and the manager said they were fresh already, but the guy didn’t think so, and a mild scuffle ensued (or not)? THAT was quite the debacle.

  33. tz says:

    Apple/iTunes “Ping”.

    (I second MS Kin)

    Apple iPhone 4 Antenna “I only hold grudges that way”. Also the exposed prototype

    Google TV (recoverable)

    Robosigning (you mean 10,000 notarized documents are all fraudulent) – I don’t know which of the many businesses involved this applies to.


    Google Buzz (privacy and irrelevance) and Wave. This is good in that google innovates quite a bit in many areas – and has failures. Many don’t do much of anything so there will be no debacle, only a slow fade to gray.

    Any of the fast food prototypes that went off the menu before they were even noticed.

  34. anduin says:

    Toyota is mild compared to what happens with nearly any automobile manufacturer in the world. My dad’s Benz got recalled for some part. BP is the epic debacle, tens of thousands of people seriously affected, hundreds of thousands of life forms destroyed. Anything else mentioned is disgracing the amount of damage caused by the BP spill.

  35. doofus666 says:
  36. DarkPsion says:

    I have to go with 3D movies.

    The movie industry throws a fit over illegal downloads and then releases movies many people can’t watch without eyestrain, or headaches.

    And yes I know they say the movies are available in 2D in “select” theaters. I have yet to find any of those “select” theaters.

  37. caknuck says:

    NBC’s handling of the whole Conan/Leno fiasco.

  38. human_shield says:

    BP is obvious but I think BofA can come in a distant second for foreclosing on so many houses illegally.

  39. gman863 says:

    Does the FCC Approving the Comcast/NBC thing count yet or do we have to wait until next year to nominate it?