Top independent sales reps for the local Bausparkasse (building society) in Wüstenrot, Germany, have landed themselves and the organization that contracted them in hot water over an "incentive" awards trip to Brazil that involved more than just complimentary meals and accommodation.
Last year, the Bausparkasse spent roughly 200,000 euros to send 51 sales reps to Rio. While there, about half of the reps went to a bar where they had contact with prostitutes, in the words of a company source.
Bausparkasse management has been trying to limit the damage to the companys image since the story originally broke last week in the Handelsblatt newspaper. The conservative institution functions as a building society offering financial services, also selling products like life insurance. It isnt the first insurance sector company to be caught up in this type of scandal. Sales reps for the Ergo insurance company were accused of hijinks while on an incentive trip earlier this year to Budapest.
It was already bad enough after the Ergo scandal, an insurance rep with no connection to either scandal told Die Welt. Now Im afraid clients will start closing their doors to us.
However, a spokesman for the Verband der Privaten Bausparkassen the association of private building societies said they did not expect the Brazilian incentive trip incident to have lasting repercussions. The visit to the bar wasnt part of the official program, he said.
The association of German insurers, the Gesamtverband der deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft, is less optimistic. It is extremely important to us to stress that incidents of that nature are not the norm, said a spokeswoman.
Were taking this very seriously, said Bausparkasse board member Bernd Hertweck, who stated that even in their free time reps should not engage in activities that were disadvantageous to the company or could damage its reputation.
Those involved will have disciplinary measures taken against them, but cannot be dismissed for the behavior, according to insiders. Following the contact with prostitutes incident, the Wüstenrot Bausparkasse has placed its whole system of incentive trips under internal review.
Read the full story in German Andrea Rexer
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations