As you all know, Springfield has a sizable American International Group (AIG) office here. You probably also know that AIG is a large company in trouble and has received government money to help get it through its difficulties. And you might also remember this story about the expensive retreat for AIG executives AFTER they had received the bailout money. Well, AIG was properly embarrassed by that event and has apparently taken measures to make sure no more bad publicity like that gets out again. And, it seems, they have taken it to the extreme.
The AIG office here in Springfield, which employs several hundred workers, sponsors an annual bus trip to Chicago for its local employees and one guest per person. The AIG workers, for $15 dollars a head, can take a bus to Chicago and can spend the day shopping or whatever. Riders are dropped off and picked up at one location on Michigan Avenue. The rest of the day is up to the employees. This year’s bus trip was scheduled for this Saturday.
But here’s where it gets sticky for AIG. The $15 out of pocket cost per person doesn’t pay for the entire cost of the bus, so AIG pays for the rest out of some employee activity fund. Apparently, someone at AIG, fearing bad publicity, decided the bus trip needed to be cancelled at the last minute. The problem is, the way I understand it, AIG saves no money since the bus has already been paid for. A bigger problem is that some people participating in the trip went and bought things like non-refundable theater tickets for Saturday. These people now either have to eat that cost or drive up on their own.
This is certainly not the end of the world for anyone, but it sure is stupid. Remember, all AIG was paying for was part of the cost of the bus, which they are still on the hook for. They weren’t doing any wining or dining or entertaining, just providing a portion of the transportation cost. But they had to cancel because they thought it wouldn’t look good. Well, I think this looks worse.