Public Relations or Public Scam

Today we were informed of what appears to be a troubling incident within a student led organization on the campus of North Dakota State University. This would be the Public Relations Student Society at NDSU. One of the members and a student at NDSU Amy Hilgers left negative feedback for a customer. Nothing by itself seems out of the ordinary, unhappy customers leaving honest and truthful feedback, right? This is what helps businesses to better their goods and/or services. Businesses need to embrace the positive feedback and learn from the negative. We don’t normally look into these types of matters since there can be so much ‘gray’ area if you will.

However the problem here was the negative feedback was left for poor responsiveness to the customer Amy Hilgers. Upon some investigation it was discovered that over 24 emails had been sent to the customer. Average response time was 7.5 hrs. Not exactly blazing fast but certainly within reason, less than a business day. We were confused as to exactly how that correlated to poor responsiveness. On top of that we found emails sent to the customer which were simply ignored despite the business working to meet her own self-imposed deadline. Still up to this point however it seemed liked either a simple misunderstanding or a really strict interpretation of responsiveness. Then it all came together with the followup to the negative review. According to Hilgers, and we quote, “you should be using NDSU Public Relations Society to help with your customer service”. So was that the answer? Maybe this wasn’t just a customer who felt neglected. Was this possibly an attempt to get business or to artificially create a need for the services of this organization? It really appears, at least to us, that the leaving of negative feedback was in reality a ploy to promote this student organization and its members, or at the very least one of its members.

We can only hope that this is an isolated incident of an overzealous student and not really indicative of the organization as a whole and we certainly hope that this is not a common trend within the Public Relations Student Society of America.

We would love to hear about your experiences either good or bad with the Public Relations Student Society of America at NDSU specifically or the national organization in general. We have reached out with no response as of this writing.

Don Barron

AFI News Services

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Fireside Detroit Lakes, MN

I guess the best way to describe this place is “complete and utter dissapointment”. I went to the Fireside with high hopes after a few (not many mind you) positive comments. The inside is has a very warm and cozy feel. The view of the lake is also terrific and the wine selection impressive. However this is where I should have stopped and went somewhere else to eat. They started me with a vegetable tray and some bread. Neither was very impressive and the presentation even less so. All of the items on the menu sounded delicious and I felt there was most likely not a bad choice to make. I chose the filet mignon cooked to medium. However when it arrived it was extremely well done. No pink in the middle, no juices. As a matter of fact it looked liked someone forgot about it, charred on one side and then turned over before being put on my plate. I hestitantly sent it back as I don’t normally do that but at $35+ for the filet I felt I deserved it done to my liking (or at least close). After around 30 minutes my steak arrived again, this time rare and barely even cooked. Turns out the joke was on me. Apparently you don’t send a steak back even if it is bone dry and way over cooked. I’m not even going to get into the dry garlic mashed potatoes served with my steak. Considering there was only 2-3 other people in the restaurant they can’t really blame it on being busy. Just a lousy chef and poor service.

In the end they are passing off average fare at a high price assuming the view (and maybe a few glasses of wine) will distract you. Don’t be fooled. I left hungry and went to Zorbaz, which I should have done to start with.

Fireside on Urbanspoon

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Banana Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

Try this recipe for the best smoothie on the planet. No need for a multi-vitamin because this smoothie is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and more!

  • 1/2 cup blueberries – frozen
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 water – more or less depending on consistency you like
  • 1 cup baby spinach – uncooked, washed (just as good with kale!)

Blend the first 5 ingredients until somewhat smooth then add the spinach. I use a Ninja blender and it blends perfectly. I add the spinach to my kids smoothies and they don’t even know it!

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Corwin Dealer Adds Anti-Theft Etching

I just purchased a “new to me” Chrysler Aspen from the Corwin Honda dealer in Fargo, ND. I must admit that my purchasing experience was very pleasant, from the salesman to the sales manager to the finance person. Needless to say I came home singing their praises and mentioned to my wife that this was easily the best car purchasing experience I have ever had, hands down. After a few days and the new car excitement had worn off I decided to go through my paperwork to reassure myself that I had indeed received the great deal I initially thought. Sure enough everything seemed to check out fine until I reached the line that read ‘Anti Theft Etching’. A whopping $286.00 to etch my VIN into the driver’s side glass. My first thought? Now why would I pay that much for VIN etching on my glass. Isn’t it already permanently on my vehicle in a prominent location and other locations not revealed by the manufacturer (thus to discourage theft)? Of course it is. I found a Do It Yourself window etching kit online for $19.95. So basically Corwin Honda is adding a 1500% markup (gulp!) on their window etching, assuming they are paying retail price for the etching kit. And on top of that it was oh so cleverly not mentioned during the finance process. Imagine adding $266.00 profit on every item you sell without really adding any value.  I own a business so I must admit I drool at the thought. However my conscience would give me pause, especially if I failed to mention it during the sale. Of course they are not entirely to blame, I cannot totally absolve myself. Yes I did sign the paperwork and sure enough my signature is at the bottom and side of the sheet in which the fee is listed. So the old saying, caveat emptor (buyer beware), holds true, especially when shopping at Corwin Honda. My advice: go through the purchase agreement line by line (preferrably with a calculator) and if they try to hurry you along or become annoyed because it is taking too much time, ask them if you can come back to care of it when they are less busy. Oh by the way, I also happened to catch what I thought was an honest $250.00 mistake on my paperwork. The finance person explained his new software had a glitch, he seemed believable, printed out a new sheet, and that was that. Now in hind sight I’m left to wonder – was it an ‘honest’ mistake?

In the end, I still believe I received a fair price on the vehicle and a fair price on my trade. However my once positive experience has now left a very bitter taste in mouth. Is it any wonder why the term ‘used car salesman’ still has such a negative connotation and become synonymous with terms like ‘crook’ and ‘swindler’?

UPDATE: In response to an email summary of this article sent to the Fargo Corwin Dealer I recieved no response. Simply put I was asking how many people have benefited from this ‘anti-theft’ etching and which insurance companies give discounts and what the approximate savings might be. In other words trying to figure out how long it would take the average customer to get his money back on this. My insurance company said I already have an anti-theft discount (as do most policy holders) therefore there was no further discount. This is because most cars already have a factory alarm or other ‘anti-theft’ items built in.  Tanner Corwin and his staff bill themselves as customer oriented but I think I will beg to differ on that.

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Tickets to Bison Championship Game are a Huge Disapointment

While the excitement of going to a championship game for the bison is still fresh in the air, I must express my complete disappointment. Minutes after realizing the Bison were going to the championship game my wife and I decided to make the trip and support our team.   We work at many Bison events, send our kids to the Bison sports camps and attend games with our family. However after purchasing my tickets shortly after they went on sale I was informed that my ticket was pending review of my ‘points’. Apparently attending games, camps and working at the events does not earn me ‘points’. No you get those by writing checks, only 50 bucks per point! So apparently the game will be attended by a bunch of back slappers, where I am sure Gene Taylor will be most comfortable, with deep pockets and corporate logos on their shirts. No doubt some of these people mean a great deal to the athleic department and I’m sure they are given plenty of worthwhile perks. This however is egregious by any standard. NDSU has now sent the message that you have to buy your loyalty or quite frankly you just don’t matter ‘as much’.

Meanwhile us other lowly middle class, blue collar ‘fans’ can watch it from home, with our meager TV’s pondering whether maybe we should ‘pay up’ so that we can feel like part of the Gene Taylors back slapping group. However next year when they are trying to get people to go to their games and camps, I will not have forgotten. Gene Taylor and his cronies are hoping everyone else has.

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Dave Hakstol – Doing Less with More

Let me just get this out: Dave Hakstol is the most over-rated coach in the NCAA. I know what some of you are thinking, Dave Hakstol, the UND Fighting Sioux head hockey coach has been a six-time finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year, Hakstol guided the Fighting Sioux to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2010-11, giving UND five Frozen Four berths in Hakstol’s first seven years as head coach and compiled a winning percentage of .662 as head coach. Very impressive I must admit. However look behind the numbers and you find a coach in the most coveted hockey arena in the nation, in one of the most storied hockey programs, and with arguably the most talented hockey players in the country. And what does he have to show for it? Zero national championships! UND is a hotbed for recruiting, constantly the first choice of virtually every top ranked high school or junior hockey player in the region if not the country. Minnesota kids regularly choose UND over the Gophers when given the chance. Side note: The Golden Gophers head coach Don Lucia boasts a winning percentage of only a respectable .540 while getting out recruited by UND, yet he has 2 National Championship banners.

The problem with Hakstol isn’t that he can’t win, anyone remember Denny Green of MN Viking lore? He had a .610 winning percentage, 4 NFC central titles, 3 – second place finishes and 2 trips to the NFC Championship Game. Impressive on paper, but again look behind the numbers. He couldn’t win when it mattered. Hakstol continually underperforms with some of the best talent in the country. In 2008-09, 17 former Fighting Sioux played in the National Hockey League, the program’s most since the 1993-94 season. Thirteen of those players were coached by Hakstol during his nine seasons on the UND staff. With talent like that, and no championships to show it for, what does that say about his ability to coach when it matters? In my opinion one of the factors for his lack of success is the style of hockey he coaches. Aggressive and physical hockey might work against smaller, less physical teams in the WCHA, but has shown time and again to be ineffective against east coast opponents or, quite frankly, when it counts. Since he has the ability to recruit the fastest, best stick handling, quickest shooting players it would reason he should coach them to play THEIR style of hockey and not his (physical, over-aggressive) style, if he did he might have 3 or even 4 championships. There is a reason they nicknamed him ‘the Hack’ during his playing days. His current top assistant had the same reputation in his playing days. See a pattern? Another factor for his lack of success stems from his inability to discipline players or to discipline selectively. It’s no secret that TJ Oshie was Hakstol’s “Golden Boy” who after being arrested not once but twice, was finally given a ridiculous one game suspension. Yep, 1 game. Way to take control of the team, Dave. When the media would question him his response invariably would be, “don’t worry about it, it’s a team issue”. And the media wouldn’t. North Dakota nice I guess.

I know this is not a popular stance, calling out the head coach of the most storied college program in the entire state (all due respect to Bison Football), but let’s get serious. If Hakstol were at any other college program he would be lucky to be a .500 coach. Almost any other mediocre coach at UND would have at least 1 if not 2 Championsip banners hanging in the Ralph. Arrogance and lack of player discipline is one thing, but zero Championships? That’s another. I have a feeling if it were the ND Vikings, Denny Green might still be the coach.

2013 NCAA Hockey Tournament North Dakota

Once again Hakstol shows us why he has absolutely no reason coaching one of the premier hockey schools in the country. This years team had 2 Hobey Baker finalists and 14 NHL draft picks on the roster. Yet they lose in the first round of the WCHA tournament to CC and then lose a winnable game to Yale in the NCAA tournament. Zane Gothberg starts in net the first game and then has “an illness” and according to Hakstol “we’ll leave it at that.” No further explanation or questions. This guy is so pompous and arrogant he doesn’t even bother to care that the fans might actually want to know. Corbin Knight, a Hobey Baker finalist, had this to say following the last game about their season “I don’t think we ever reached our full potential. Maybe for a few periods but not for a whole game or series.” Not exactly an endorsement of your coach or staff.

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WF Maxwells

Last night my wife and I went out to celebrate our anniversary. We decided to go for a casual meal since it was ‘only’ our 9th anniversary. We ended up choosing a local restaurant that we have heard many positive comments about yet hadn’t been to ourselves. We were very pleased with the atmosphere, service and most importantly the quality of the food. We ordered from the bar menu, since this offered more casual meal items. My wife ordered the Chipotle Burger served with a side of sweet potato fries. I decided on the Bison Meatballs in a Vermuth Cream Sauce. We were absolutely blown away by both of our choices. The Burger had a great, yet not overpowering, smoke flavor that was complimented by the crisp bacon and perfectly toasted bun. The Bison Meatballs were so tender they practically dissolved in the cream sauce! I think we both just discovered the best kept secret in town! At $11 a burger I will admit the prices are a little on the high end. But if your looking for an excellent casual meal you can’t go wrong with WF Maxwells.

WF Maxwell's on Urbanspoon

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