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Germany

Businessmen Behaving Badly: Germany Abuzz Over 'Incentive' Trip Scandals

A group of German sales reps have been caught with their pants down – so to speak – following revelations that they “had contact” with prostitutes during an incentive trip to Brazil. The scandal follows a similar story involving sales reps who behaved bad

Moon over Rio de Janeiro (Rodrigo_Soldon)
Moon over Rio de Janeiro (Rodrigo_Soldon)


*NEWSBITES

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 company's 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 isn't 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 I'm 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 wasn't 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.

"We're 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

Photo – Rodrigo_Soldon

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Coronavirus

Why Making COVID Predictions Is Actually Getting Harder

We know more about COVID than ever before, but that doesn't make it easier to predict what will happen this year. It also remains to be seen if we'll put the lessons we learned into practice.

​A young boy who arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

A young boy who arrived from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

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But this doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. The proportion of people estimated to be infected has varied over time, but this figure has not fallen below 1.25% (or one in 80 people) in England for the entirety of 2022. COVID is very much still with us, and people are being infected time and time again.

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