Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. As I do every week, let's take a look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. Cold electric cars heat up Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) kicked off the week responding to a scathing critique by The New York Times on Sunday that called into question the electric car's battery life in cold weather. Given Tesla's goal of selling a ton of its Model S sedans to affluent Northeasterners, it's easy to see why coming under fire for performance in wintry weather could be a problem.
Elon Musk appeared on CNBC on Monday, but he may have made things worse.
He pointed out that company logs of the author's test-drive vehicle -- which in and of itself is a bit creepy -- shows that the reviewer didn't wait until his car had a complete charge. Musk also pointed out that the writer drove a few miles over the speed limit and took an unnecessary detour through Manhattan.
Musk may be right -- and a detailed report by Tesla later in the week makes it seem that way -- but that doesn't make Tesla look so good.
"With all due respect, Mr. Musk, who doesn't drive a Tesla faster than the speed limit?" CNBC's Bill Griffeth asked during the segment.
Tesla had to defend itself on this, but drawing more attention to the incident in a way that forces Tesla drivers to be patient through recharging stations, lighter on the accelerator, and focused on the most direct path from one destination to another doesn't sound like potent marketing material for a car that costs at least $60,000.
2. This is no Love Boat Another cruise on Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL) has gone wrong.
An engine fire on the Carnival Triumph idled the ship on Sunday, stranding the ship that had left Galveston on a four-day trek through the Gulf of Mexico.
Passengers have reported a lack of food, power, and plumbing.
By Thursday afternoon, just as it seemed as if the boat was about to be pulled ashore along the Alabama coastline, the towline broke. The nightmare finally ended last night.
Yes, Carnival's smoothing over irate passengers with free cruise credits, but this is ultimately more damaging to Carnival because of the people who aren't on the ship. They're the ones seeing another Carnival-owned ship spoil a getaway, giving way to natural doubts about taking a cruise in the future.