Worst Typing Error in History?

A follow up to yesterday’s billing incident.

Everybody should have been refunded by now, and DreamHost has promised to do their best to take care of any incurred fee from your bank or credit card company.

I can belive how out of line some of the comments on DreamHost’s two blogs are – but no, Josh is not to blame for the sub-prime crisis and no, this is not the worst typing error in history:

  • Typing Error Causes $225M Loss at Tokyo Stock Exchange
    A typing error caused Mizuho Securities to lose at least 27 billion yen ($225 million) on a stock trade in December 2005. The trouble began when a trader tried to sell 610,000 shares at 1 yen (less than a penny) apiece instead of 1 share of 610,000 yen ($5,041).
  • Typing error causes nuclear scare
    The Sudanese government had a nasty shock in March 2005, when it read on a US Congress website that the Americans had conducted nuclear tests in the country. The report should have said Sedan, a test site in the US state of Nevada.
  • Human error caused loss of Mars orbiter
    Failure to convert English measures to metric values caused the loss of the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter, when the spacecraft smashed into the planet instead of reaching orbit in September 1999.

More coverage at TechCrunch and HostingFu.

14 Responses to “Worst Typing Error in History?”

  1. Nate says:

    Dreamhost’s main problem is that they haven’t communicated with their users on a frequent basis, and haven’t really been responding to their emails in anything other than a form-letter fashion..

    Those of us who are having difficulty recouping the original monies owed, and I’m not even talking about bank fees or credit card fees, are not hearing anything back from them. This overcharging problem is not major, but the way they are CURRENTLY treating their customers IS.

    When overcharged by a company, I expect them to rectify it asap, or at least give me a human being to talk to who is on the case. Not to send me a form-email once a day.

  2. just saying says:


    Ok, so if 600,000 sites were affected… at one site dealt with individually per minute by, say, each of 10 real human people giving individual attention instead of form mails, working 24 hours per day is… 41.6 days.


  3. Nate says:

    You make no sense.

    First of all-
    The number of sites is not the number of customers. If the problem was worth 7.5 million dollars and the average customer was overcharged $300-something dollars (from what I’ve seen, heard and experienced), that means an average of about 20,000 customers needed help.

    Second of all-
    Most of the accounts were automatically fixed, so the number of accounts needing help is way less than that, unless there’s something dreamhost isn’t telling us

    Third of all-
    How about hiring temps to help take care of this problem? That’s what most reputable companies would do. They’d “call in The Wolf”.

    Fourth of all-
    If they gave regular updates it would be easier to gauge what’s going on.

    Fifth of all-
    If they just made sure to help those posting on the blog, they’d silence the most hostile posters asap.

    Sixth of all-
    This blog is incorrect by stating: “Everybody should have been refunded by now”. Unless it meant “should” in the prescriptive sense. That’s why I posted here in the first place.

  4. Nate says:

    Also, I’m usually a big fan of dreamhost. I’ve recommended them a bunch in the past.

    But I can’t understand why they don’t respect their customers enough to address this issue. I’ve emailed them several times and even sent a fax.

    At this point I don’t care. I have other monies so I’m fine, but I’m gradually becoming disenchanted by their obvious insouciance.

    It’s still my money that they took, and I have every right to expect it to be in my possession rather than theirs. Regardless of the staffing logstics on their part.

  5. Nate says:

    Also, after rereading josh’s blog where he says that it was 10,000 billing messages (which is 1/60 of your figure of 600,000), I observe that using your estimation it would take less than 1 day for them to fix this without needing to hire anyone even.

  6. just saying says:

    Less than a day, assuming they had 10 trained people trusted to get access to your account info… could access the info, check it, and contact you in under a minute… and worked non-stop. Sure.

    [On the other hand, I agree they should have sent an e-mail out shortly after they realized there was an error (and that it couldn't be fixed quicker than the e-mails would go out).]

  7. Nate says:

    I contacted dreamhost sales, claiming to want to set up hosting with them Patrick M contacted me back in less than 1 minute:

    >> I wanted to get a hosting plan with you guys for a bunch of my sites.
    >> Is there a number I can call to talk to a salesman so I know this is a legit
    >> business?

    > Unfortunately, we do not have a call-in number and we do not provide
    > pre-sales phone support. As for determining whether we are a legit
    > business, all I can say is that we are and we have been in business for
    > over 10 years now.

    If that’s not a slap in the face, I don’t know what is. They have time for new customers, but not their present ones.

  8. just saying says says:


  9. Nate says:

    Once again they were quick to give me a personal response (five minutes) when I asked about setting up an account, but have ignored all my emails for 3 days about billing issues:

    > I was wondering about setting up dedicated servers with you guys. I was
    > wondering what sort of pricing options you had in comparison to both
    > Slicehost and Amazon’s EC2 compute cluster.

    The details on our Strictly Business Enhanced plan are on this page from
    our site:


    If you have any questions about that service, please let me know!

    Patrick M

  10. Nate says:

    To be honest I yesteday I got occasional responses from someone at their company (”Phiya”) who was apparently a genuinely concerned technical support person, but Phiya was not in charge of my account and couldn’t do anything.

  11. Joshua Trevino says:

    Well, count me as a Dreamhost customer who was hit hard by this — and as of January 19th, STILL not refunded. Appalling, really.

  12. Gerard says:

    I used a debit card for my auto-billing and was billed $878.23. Visa has told me there is STILL no refund pending. I had $387.00 in this particular account. Five charges to this account (that was SUPPOSED to have an almost $900 cushion) have been insufficient funds and paid – at $32.00 each. It’s thrown this banking account into turmoil. I was appalled at all the joking around by Josh in the blog posting. Shocked.

    By the way, if 7.5 million EXTRA dollars sat in a bank account overnight (possibly two) paying just 2% – Dreamhost made somewhere between $150,000 and $300,000 in interest – on the 1-2 day “accidental loan.” WHO gets THAT money?

  13. just saying says:

    No one pays 2% interest per 2 days (7.5mil*.02=150,000) … you have to calculate it on the annual amount which is a much smaller value. If they live up to paying all the overdraft fees they’ve said they will, it’ll all get eaten doing that.

  14. bill says:

    if someone loses on the stock market like that then someone else gains the same amount, its a zero sum game. so its not a good anologoy imo.