7 smartphone disasters that could happen to you

How to use your smartphone safely

Like all technology, smartphones can be hugely useful. However, some of the time they provide opportunities for tech-tinged embarrassment. We tracked down seven of the most unfortunate mobile phone disaster tales we could find. The stories are fun to laugh at now, but most of them were anything but amusing when they actually occurred...

Smartphones are useful, but they provide opportunities for tech-tinged embarrassment, from racking up thousands of dollars in international roaming fees or encouraging dozens of eye rolls with your misrouted voice dialling.

We tracked down seven of the most unfortunate smartphone disaster tales we could find. The stories are fun to laugh at now, but most of them were anything but amusing when they actually occurred. Some cost companies money; some cost employees their jobs. Others cost something even more difficult to recover: a slice of their victims' dignity.

So read on, and remember: it could have just as easily been you. (Note: Some of the names have been changed or withheld to protect the guilty.)

Smartphone horror story No. 1: The accidental autocorrect

When you think about it, letting a gadget guess what you want to say is really just asking for trouble.

'Scott', who works at a marketing and web design firm, learned that the hard way. He was emailing back and forth with his brother, using some colourful language, when a message from a client came in to his phone.

The client's project had a four-letter acronym that started with a 'c'. It was just a letter or two off from a certain other four-letter 'c' word - yes, that one - and as luck would have it, the more vulgar variation had made its way into the memory on Scott's phone.

"My brother and I exchange some pretty insulting emails, and like all smartphones, my phone remembers what I type in," he explains. "When I emailed the client back, it jumped in and swapped out the project's real acronym with that other 'c' word."

Scott fired off the email, not realising it described his client's project as the 'C--- project' (I'll let you fill in the blanks). The client-- who, naturally, happened to be especially conservative - was appalled. He wrote back within minutes to let Scott know.

"I was mortified. I couldn't believe it went through that way," Scott says. "The worst part was trying to explain away the fact that I had used that word enough to get it in the phone's dictionary."

The moral: Never blindly trust a machine. Proofread everything, especially messages tapped out in a hurry. Otherwise, you might just end up calling a client a ... well, you know.

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Shane O'Neill

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