72 Strangest Facts About American Businesses, Their Past & Founders

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1Wal-Mart Black Friday

A Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by Black Friday shoppers in 2008. While other employees attempted to help him, the shoppers were unconcerned with the victim’s fate and refused to halt their stampede, complaining that they were not willing to wait in the cold any longer.


2. In 1925, General Electric and other light bulb manufacturers colluded against consumers and created the 'Phoebus Cartel'. The cartel conspired to reduce the 1925 light bulb life expectancy from 2500 Hours down to only 1000 hours and at the same time, to increase the price per bulb.


3. In 2004, a Wal-Mart was built on a section of Teotihuacan in Mexico. Ancient artifacts were shipped off to be dumped by workers who found them on the site.


4. The Rockefeller owned Standard Oil was declared a monopoly and forced to split into 33 companies in 1911 including Exxon and Mobil which then re-merged in 1999 into ExxonMobil, the 8th largest company in the world.


5. AT&T only put the * and # buttons on the phone keypad because they had extra space, and they figured maybe someone someday will find some use for them.


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6Wal-Mart de Mexico

On September 4, 2008, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ruled that Wal-Mart de Mexico, the Mexican subsidiary of Wal-Mart, must cease paying its employees in part with vouchers that were redeemable only at Wal-Mart stores.


7. In 1958, as an experiment, Bank of America mailed 60,000 residents of Fresno, California a small plastic card with a $500 credit line. BoA figured if it failed, there'd be no media coverage because it was in Fresno. The experiment was hugely successful and the program became Visa.


8. James Sinegal, the former CEO of Costco, said that he did not care about Wall Street analysts who had criticized him for putting the good treatment of employees and customers ahead of pleasing shareholders. A favorite quote attributed to Sinegal is “you have to take the sh*t with the sugar.”


9. Home Depot stocked shelves with empty boxes instead of the actual merchandise in its early days. Home Depot persuaded the vendors to give them empty boxes after the vendors were afraid that Home Depot could not pay them for all the merchandise.


10. In 1919, Ford wanted to use extra profits to raise employee wages and employ more people. Dodge sued them, saying a corporation's only responsibility is to increase shareholder value. This set the precedent for current US corporate law.


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11Wells Fargo ATM

There is a single ATM in Antarctica, operated by Wells Fargo Bank. It takes Wells Fargo ten months to prepare to service its ATM, and the employee sent must undergo a psychological evaluation in case they are stranded in Antarctica when flights are canceled for the season.


12. Dr. William McGuire, the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, resigned amid a stock-option scandal, and as a consequence, he was given a severance package worth $1.1 billion in 2006, which was 3 times larger than the previous record set by former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond just earlier that year


13. Costco sells 157,000 rotisserie chickens each day, on average, for a total of 87 million sold in 2017.


14. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, Comcast customers were billed for unreturned equipment that had been destroyed by the hurricane. Customers were charged as much as $1000 for failing to return modems, DVRs, and other equipment that had been lost or destroyed.


15. In 1941, more than three million cars were manufactured in the United States. Only 139 more were made during the entire war. Ford turned out one B-24 bomber every 63 minutes for 24 hours a day.


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16Kroger

Kroger uses infrared sensors to track customers in their stores. An algorithm then decides how many checkout lines need to be open to reduce wait times.


17. Who framed Roger Rabbit is loosely based off of a true conspiracy by General Motors to purchase and dismantle streetcar systems in American cities between 1938-1950. They bought out companies that operated electric streetcars across the USA and fully replaced them with buses, which were reliant on foreign oil.


18. When a hurricane is expected, Wal-Mart’s top-selling items are strawberry Pop-Tarts and beer. It is a more popular prep item than bottled water.


19. A small, single-story building at 1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware is the registered home of over 6,500 corporations and more than 200,000 businesses, such as Google, American Airlines, Apple, GM, Coca-Cola, KFC, Verizon Internet Services, and Deutsche Bank.


20. In 1993, insurance company State Farm paid $145 million in punitive damages for having a “Jew list” to discriminate against claimants.


21Costco Audits

Costco audits the companies it buys from to see if working conditions are good, such as people being forced to work overtime to create their products.


22. Two Bell Lab Employees (aka AT&T ) found a “noise” while testing a new horn radio. Unable to discover the source they pointed radio to space and found the same “white noise”, this led to the accidental discovery of Cosmic Background Radiation that confirmed the Big Bang Theory.


23. Bank of America once mistakenly foreclosed a couple, who sued and won a judgment for $2500 in Legal expenses. When the bank didn't pay the couple, they showed up at the bank with a moving company, a deputy, and a writ allowing them to foreclose the bank and start seizing furniture and cash.


24. AT&T almost caused a nuclear war in 1961. When the USA lost contact with its early warning systems, assuming that the USSR had attacked, bombers were scrambled but recalled when contact was made with an EWS base. The phone blackout was caused by a faulty AT&T switch they had promised to replace.


25. Costco sells $400 million of toilet paper a year. It is often their best selling product.

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