This Yahoo Check Makes Zero Cents


This is a cliche' of bad process and bad information systems, but I actually received a paper check in the mail from Yahoo! for ZERO cents. ZERO dollars and ZERO cents. $0.00.

I guess this is something that CEO Carol Bartz would curse and swear about, as she often does.

A full image of the check can be seen below:

I'm not exactly sure why I received the check. I used to have an account for running ads on the blog via the Yahoo Ad network, but I haven't used that in a long time.

Either way, you'd think the software would be error proofed so that:

  • If check_amount = 0, then do_not_print_check

OK, I haven't done real programming since college. But you get the point. Yahoo wasted paper and postage for absolutely zero value. Yahooooooooooooooooooooooo!

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. How interesting that of all people, it was sent to you: a process improvement expert!
    It’s like they gifted it to you. Very strange.

  2. A simple Jidoka method, such as the code above, would certainly be a worthwhile addition to Yahoo’s check system. It’s always funny to see these sort of errors slip through a fully automated system. It is also a great way to show that even large companies can overlook certain aspects of their system, and fail to implement error proofing in the way a person could.

    A nice quirky story for me to share via twitter,


  3. Uh oh…an idea like this could catch on. We might all be getting checks for $0.00 courtesy of the politicians in Washington in the name of economic stimulus…

    I could see some politician claiming it would create a million jobs and not cost the Federal Government anything…

  4. A much sadder version of the same kind of thing…..A British gentleman told me he had read about an elderly woman who got an electricity bill for something like 500,000 pounds. Distraught that she couldn’t pay it, she killed herself.

    Mediocre or worse IT systems design can be seen every day. Systems that want a date or a date range….banking systems to display your checks, credit card systems to display your transactions, health insurance systems to display your claims…often will not accept a date such as 7/1/10, insisting instead on 07/01/10.

  5. Hi Mark,

    did you contact Yahoo! about this, to find out the root cause? It could very well have been an ‘ambush marketing’ action from them to promote the use of their name on your website (for free: $0,00). Maybe they were just annoyed because you were no longer using their adds.


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