As I blogged about yesterday, I found out that Countrywide was planning a trip to a Florida resort next week, followed by another one in April. This after canceling an expensive ski junket for 30 smaller lenders in Colorado.
The company responded that it has cancelled the trip next week and the April event is "under review." Countrywide told us these trips are employee sales events that were planned long ago. I got an earful from readers about this one, some inside the company (or used to be)--many claiming they've been on these trips in the past.
From Albert B:
"Every year since 2001 at the end of April Countrywide holds an annual event called Circle of Excellence which is planned a year in advance. It rewards Countrywide's top loan originators and management. Past locations are Maui, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Scottsdale, AZ. Performers like Huey Lewis and the news or even the B-52's typically perform on the final night of the event."
From Arthur A:
"I have been on many of them. They are a good time. Last year it was the Wynn in Vegas, the year before Hawaii, the year before Scottsdale etc."
"I was a sales manager at Countrywide until getting laid off in December and I went on the same trip as a sales rep in October 2006. It was at Fairmont Orchid in Kona, HI and I'll tell you what, no expense was spared."
From Stacey P:
"The media can't get enough of bagging on Countrywide with your embellished articles and sometimes outright slander. This trip is for employees who have stuck with Countrywide through the tough last few months and who to this day are still working with people, trying to provide the best quality loans with a sincere desire to help people. I am sick of the media harassing Countrywide and it's employees."
From Terry W, who claims CEO Angelo Mozilo would never come to these events himself (this I don't know):
"I am a former employee of Countrywide's Full Spectrum Lending. I was one of the Texas crew that got laid off Gestapo style in September of 07. The reason for one of the trips is called " The Sales Summit " and the " Presidents Council "...you go for a couple of days, hear how great things are going to be, and how wonderful a job the management team did. Kind of like a self love meeting, if you know what I mean."
From Bob A:
"This event is to reward their loan officers for reaching sales goals. Reward those who help drive the company to near Bankruptcy. Go figure."
From Ruthanne B:
"When are people going to be held responsible for the decisions THEY make and stop blaming others? Those people who bought homes that were clearly over their heads made that decision on their own and need to stop blaming mortgage lenders because they just HAD TO HAVE that bigger home instead of buying what they could afford."
From John L:
"Give me a break. What is this company thinking of ??? I don't understand it. People are losing their homes, employees are being laid off, but what the heck, why not spend millions of dollars and have fun in the sun."
"In the environment where many major mortgage and investment bank CEOs are fired over losses, you have to note that NOT a single Senior Management Member has resigned or been fired- instead they get promoted or get this "retention bonus."
And from Felix U.:
"Please stop this nonsense over Countrywide's "alleged" excesses. The only people you are hurting with your "investigative" reporting is myself and other shareholders who are trying to weather the storm. Every company spends money, leave them be. Instead do a report on "the people being foreclosed on"- many deadbeats who are walking away from their debts."
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