Realty Check

Countrywide's "Protect Our House" Program: Want To Bid?


I didn’t make a big deal about it a few weeks ago, when I heard that Countrywide was launching a public relations blitz after months and months of negative publicity and talk of massive layoffs at the massive mortgage lender.

It made sense, right? Employees had to be slightly demoralized by the fact that Countrywide seemed to be at the center of the subprime meltdown, that the company was bleeding cash, cutting the loans it could offer and cutting its workforce, and that the company’s CEO, Angelo Mozilo, was the target of various state and federal officials looking into his personal stock practices. I’m guessing folks there, were on the verge of spiking the water cooler just to keep things going.

So Countrywide launches this “Protect Our House” campaign, where employees are urged to sign a loyalty pledge to “tell the company’s story.” That would of course be a story of a good company caught in the middle of a bad storm. In turn, the employee gets this great green wristband (for some reason I fail to even want to understand, wristbands are all the rage these days). And lo and behold, .

What’s killing me here are the bid prices. Come on?? Over a hundred bucks for a little piece of PR rubber? I can think of over a thousand places where that cash could be put to better use. While I’m not dumb enough to discount the fact that just about any tragedy in America must find its way into the retail market, this is really, well, ok, I’m at a loss for words here that I can print.

I guess it’s not lost on me that the man behind the mission at Countrywide, its executive managing director of residential lending, Andrew Gissinger, is a former NFL offensive tackle. I don’t blame him for going on the offensive against all the attacks Countrywide is fielding; I do blame the on-line wristband bidders. Here’s a better idea: take your hundred dollars and put them in a shredder. They’ll do much more good there.  

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