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10 most curious corporate excuses—ever


The strangest corporate excuses

Uwe Umstatter | Getty Images

When things go wrong, often the last person you'll blame is yourself.

And you're not alone. Several large corporations are guilty of doing this.

Click ahead for a look at some of the most far-fetched excuses companies actually used when they missed the mark.

— By CNBC's Ritika Shah
Posted 9 Oct. 2015

Macy's blames poor sales on lipstick, tech

A shopper walking with a Macy's shopping bag in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

In its March earnings call, Macy's attributed a lackluster rise in fourth-quarter sales to increased competition from off-price stores. It said some customers prefer to shop at those non-luxury stores because they don't feel the need to put on lipstick.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Read MoreIs a Macy's earnings miss a warning for retail?

Macys' net income fell to $793 million in the fourth quarter, down from $811 million the previous year. Net sales rose to $9.36 billion, falling short of analyst expectations of $9.39 billion.

The retail giant also cited increased spending on technology devices weighed on luxury storefront sales.

J. Crew sales slump because of sweater

Source: J. Crew

J.Crew blamed ill-fitting sweaters for creating weakness in its women's apparel and accessories department.

In a June earnings call, Chairman and CEO Mickey Drexler said the company's oversized clothing was "a fashion miss" that left female customers unsatisfied.

"We missed the following in sweaters: perfect cardigan, the Tippi, we didn't buy enough," he said. "We made a big mistake in the Tilly, perfect V and a perfect crewneck. We had a perfect crew. It sold out early."

Read More J Crew executive seemingly taunts fired employees

Drexler added that knits and sweaters are a part of a category large enough to negatively impact the company as a whole.

"We missed fundamental iconic items which, by the way, has probably happened for a little too long than we would have liked it to," Drexler said. "We just made mistakes. And I think we clearly got sloppy when you missed the fundamentals, the consistency, the annuity items that we need to have."

Tesla couldn't deliver, blames vacations

This is what a Tesla Model S looks like.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

The 2014 holiday season was more ho-hum than ho ho ho for Tesla.

In February, the Silicon Valley automaker said its fourth quarter financials reflected a delivery shortfall, one-time manufacturing inefficiencies, autopilot functionality and the impact of the strong dollar.

"While we were able to recover the lost production by end of the quarter, delivering those cars was physically impossible due to a combination of customers being on vacation, severe winter weather and shipping problems (with actual ships)," the company said. "As a result, about 1,400 vehicles slipped December and were delivered in Q1."

Read More Model X fails to steer Tesla out of the ditch

Too cold for cereal

Getty Images

During a General Mills' earnings call in 2014, CFO Don Mulligan blamed unseasonably cold winter and severe weather for weaker sales across the food industry as well as categories specific to General Mills.

Later in the call, RBC analyst David Palmer asked management to clarify the weather impact, as "restaurants were suffering over those same two months, and so it seems logical that people were eating more at home."

In response, CEO Ken Powell said that the harsh weather not only disrupted plant operations and logistics, but also led to fewer trips to food retailers, restaurants and cafeterias. So consumers were "staying at home and probably drawing down a bit from their own pantries, which slowed down the industry."

Read More Prepare for a deluge of wintry earnings

Google couldn't handle the heat

Oleksiy Maksymenko | Getty Images

Google's standalone businesses in the U.K. were hurt by the weather during the second quarter of 2013, the company said in an earnings call.

"We continued to see a steady performance in the U.S. and rest of the world, while the U.K. was negatively impacted by a particularly warm spring," the company said.

Read MoreGoogle buys domain

The tech giant also cited currency fluctuations and tough year-over-year growth for the European division's lackluster performance.

Easter a bad egg for Costco

Getty Images

Costco's same-store sales fell in March, a drop that the retailer blamed on the earlier-than-normal Easter holiday.

Costco said its comparable sales fell 2 percent in the five weeks ending on April 5, 0.8 percent lower than analysts' expectation of a 1.2 percent drop. The warehouse club had net sales of $10.40 billion for March, compared with $10.43 billion during the period last year.

Costco said the one lost sales day from the previous year due to the early Easter amounted to a decline in same-store sales by 1 to 1.5 percent.

Read More Cramer: Don't write off Costco, and here's why

Doritos taco too 'loco' for Taco Bell

Doritos Locos tacos and a fountain drink from Taco Bell
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Despite the success of a breakfast launch, Taco Bell's same-store sales increased only 2 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

In an earnings call, David Novak, CEO of parent Yum Brands, said the seemingly popular Doritos Locos Tacos were to blame.

"Frankly, [the Cool Ranch Spicy Doritos Locos Tacos Chicken] underperformed versus our expectation," Novak said.

Read More Taco Bell is now selling a taco shell made out of fried chicken

"We believe it ended up being too much of a niche product to overlap the 15 percent growth we've had over the past two years with the introductions of Doritos Locos Tacos and then Cool Ranch, two of the most popular product introductions in the history of our entire category, not just Taco Bell," he said.

World Series no hit for Applebee's

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

For the 2004 September fiscal period, Applebee's comparable sales for company restaurants decreased by 0.1 percent, reflecting a dip in guest traffic of about 1 to 1.5 percent. In a press release, the restaurant attributed that decrease to ... the Olympics.

The press release stated, "As previously noted, the Olympics had a negative impact on sales for the first week of the September period. Several hurricanes also negatively impacted franchise comparable sales by approximately 0.5 percent during the month."

But that's not all. Applebee's took a swing at the World Series, too.

Apparently the DineEquity-owned chain's October sales were negatively impacted by the fall classic. The company said the series, in which the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, had a significant effect on business because 26 percent of company-owned restaurants are located in St. Louis or New England.

Read More Applebee's FREE food plan to get you in the door

Lloyd Hill, chairman and chief executive officer, also blamed high gas prices and the election for a downturn in business.

Hill said, "Consistent with what we've seen throughout the casual dining segment, our comparable sales and traffic growth slowed toward the end of the summer. Whether due to rising gasoline prices, economic uncertainty, or the upcoming election, consumer spending appears to have been more restrained recently."

Bash the Beltway

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Family Dollar blamed weakness in the third quarter of 2013 on Washington. However, the government shutdown that year started on Oct. 1, just after the quarter ended.

On Family Dollar's October 2013 earnings call, CEO Howard Levine said the government shutdown was dampening customer confidence.

"The way I think about these kind of things is, it's just not a help to consumer confidence," Levine said. "The threat of the shutdown, the uncertainty regarding some of the government assistance … the uncertainty around job growth are very real to our consumer every day."

Read More Get ready for the DC-based earnings excuses

The pope pinches Cosi's business

Source: Cosi | Facebook

Cosi saw a 16 percent drop in its stock on Oct. 7. The sandwich chain pointed to Pope Francis as a reason for the decline.

"Business interruptions resulting from the pope's visit on Sept. 22–26, 2015, negatively impacted 30 percent of our company-owned restaurants," the company said in a release detailing the sales downturn.

Read More Sandwich chain: The pope killed our sales