Fact: One week later, top sales agents at the company went on a weeklong retreat at the luxurious St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Ca. The agents wined, dined and were pampered non-stop. The total cost was $442,000. $150,000 of that bill was for food, while another $23,000 was spent on spa treatments.
What in the world could the executives in charge of this government expensed boondoggle have been thinking?
AIG’s public relations director said that this event had been scheduled last year. I'm sure he's telling the truth. You can't book this type of ultra-chic corporate getaway 30 or even 60 days ahead of time.
The point is, it doesn't matter. AIG and its employees had just gone through a life altering event. The company was on the precipice of imploding. Only a fast moving, extremely controversial life line thrown by the government at the last moment prevented this demise from happening. And, how does a company that is supposed to be appearing contrite and acting frugal with its new found billions in American tax dollars proceed? It screws up big time. Even if only for appearance sake, without a doubt this trip should have been canceled.
Let's be honest. Half a million bucks isn't an absurd amount of money. What's absurd though is that this otherwise small gaffe was revealed at the Congressional hearings yesterday for the entire world to learn about. Then, it was repeated by Senator Obama during the presidential debate last night. If Americans weren't mad as hell before for bailing out these "greedy, rich, playboys" on Wall Street, then they certainly will blow their tops after this nugget of news travels round and round the Internet.
With the current dour mood in DC, this is just the type of typically minor gaffe that could evolve into an entirely new crisis and push already negative perceptions of AIG and Wall Street over the edge. One thing is for sure, the clueless senior executive who was in charge of this expenditure will be falling on his/her sword shortly.