Bank of America and the Whopper

By: Don McNay
By: Don McNay

A Bank of America call center "tantalized" its employees. Management offered Burger King Whoppers to call center workers as a reward for hitting a quota set for peddling Bank of America products.

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders won't upset us
- Burger King jingle

A Bank of America call center "tantalized" its employees. 

Management offered Burger King Whoppers to call center workers as a reward for hitting a quota set for peddling Bank of America products.
The people were employed in a "customer service" call-in center.  They were supposed to be helping people with problems, not giving a sales pitch.
Somehow this incident represents much of what is currently wrong in America.   
Bank of America is a "too big to fail" Wall Street bank that received bailout money from the American taxpayers.  It hit the jackpot for a second time when it got additional bailout money when it purchased Merrill Lynch.  
Now, it's using bailout money to "encourage" its employees to sell products to people who were looking for assistance.
People who work their way through a Wall Street bank's "customer service" maze aren't looking for a sales pitch.  They are looking for help. 
Note that Bank of America didn't offer incentives for employee  helping customers solve their problems.  It only offered the Whoppers to people pushing products.
If you want food, make a sale. 
Actually, the entire sales team had to make its quota in order to get the food reward.
According to the Huffington Post, "A flier provided by a former employee of the call center, which only takes incoming calls, says that if 'each person on your team gets 2 sales, everyone on the team will get to choose 1 item from the Dollar Menu at Burger King and receive next day.' "
If one of the team didn't think that cramming products was part of her job description, she knocked all her fellow employees out of Whopper world.
Talk about peer pressure!  How would you like to the one "customer service" representative who kept the rest of the crew members from receiving their free Whoppers?
I'm sure the "customer service" representatives were pitching like the characters in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Not only are they pitching hard, but it is for not just any kind of incentive, but the worst kind of junk food. 
I've had a few Whoppers in my time.  Probably a few thousand.  They taste great, but are not good for you.  
Which helps explain why I am one of the 70 million Americans who are obese.
According to the Burger King web site, a Whopper has 670 calories, 51g of carbs, 40 g of fat and 1020mg of sodium.  I like mine with cheese, so throw another 100 calories on for that.
I'm not a nutrition expert, but that really doesn't sound healthy.  
I swore off the Whoppers, and every other fast food, over a year ago.  But I occasionally fall off the wagon.  Fast food temptation is everywhere.  And I don't even work at Bank of America.
In a lower wage (probably minimum wage) type of job, you aren't going to turn down free food, no matter how unhealthy it is.
Which leads to the next problem: I'm a huge fan of Michael Pollan.  One of the things that he notes in his writing is how expensive it is to eat healthy. I keep buying organic eggs at $4 a dozen, but it is really tempting to get the non-organic at half that price.
If I am a lower-income family struggling to survive, I am never going to pick the organic items.
Thus, the richer not only get richer, they get to live more healthy lives.
I've been avidly pushing the concept of Move Your Money.
When I see a "too big to fail" bank handing out Whoppers for pushing products, it tells me that the bank does not hold the same values or belief systems that I do. 
I've moved my money elsewhere.  And encourage everyone else to do the same.
It could be that the Whoppers are part of a master plan by Bank of America.  You might remember that Wal-Mart got in trouble a few years ago for purchasing life insurance on employees and profiting when they died.
I have not seen any evidence that Bank of America is buying insurance on its employees and plying them with Whoppers to "speed up the process," so to speak.  I guess it is possible.
It would be cruel and heartless.  But a lot of stuff that happens on Wall Street is cruel and heartless. 
On the other hand,  it might allow Bank of America to pay back some of the bailout money that it owes the America taxpayers.
I'm not going to be banking at Bank of America. I'll do my best to stay away from the Whoppers, too. 

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