A small safety equipment company had been doing government work for the military and doing quite well at it. When the owner died unexpectedly, the owner's widow and son continued running the business. Later, they received a bid package for a stretcher for the Navy, and since this was an item that they supplied, they submitted a bid and won the small dollar purchase order.
When the inspector came out to check the stretchers before shipment, the owners discovered that they had made a very serious error. The requirement in the contract called for more than a stretcher, it also called for the stretcher to be enclosed in a hanging unit for use on the wall of a ship, a requirement that they had missed because they didn't read the bid carefully. And since their bid reflected the cost of the stretcher, not the added cost of the hanging unit, completion of the contract at the price quoted would have broken their company.
We recommended that they try to plead their case to the commander at the buying office and ask to be let out of the contract. Luckily for them, the commander must have been having a good day and canceled the contract: a very rare occurrence for the government.
So, not reading the bid carefully could have cost the owners their business. They were lucky, but you may not be if you fail to carefully review the contract.