THE BLOG
08/09/2010 12:21 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bank of America: The Whopper Giveaway


Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders won't upset us

-Burger King jingle



A Bank of America call center "tantalized" their employees. They offered Burger King Whoppers to workers as a reward for hitting a quota, while 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 sums up everything that 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. They hit the jackpot twice as they got more bailout money when they purchased Merrill Lynch.

Now, it's using bailout money to "encourage" their 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 employees helping customers solve their problems. They only offered the Whoppers to people pushing products.

If you want food, make a sale.

Actually, the entire sales team had to make their quota in order to get food.

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 their job description, they knocked all their fellow employees out of Whopper world.

Talk about peer pressure. How would you like to be the one "customer service" representative who kept the rest of the crew from their free Whopper.

I' m sure the "customer service" representatives were pitching like the characters in Glengarry Glen Ross.

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, 40g 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, more than 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, and 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 the 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 and productive lives.

I was opposed to the Wall Street bailouts, but given a choice between giving the money to Wall Street or spending the money on vouchers for people to purchase healthy food, I would vote for the vouchers.

Whoppers would not be on the list.

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 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 are dead.

I have not seen any evidence that Bank of America is buying insurance on its employees and plying them with Whoppers. 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.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is an award-winning financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.

You can read more about Don at www.donmcnay.com

McNay founded McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in 1983, and Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC in 2000. You can read more about both at www.mcnay.com

McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University.

McNay has written two books. Most recent is Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field