Northern Herald's

"There is no product that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.
Those who consider price alone are this man's lawful prey."

This page is cumulative, compiled from past issues of Northern Herald, and is provided for consumer awareness.
Signed consumer submissions are welcome.
Northern Herald, P.O. Box 1132, Bemidji, MN 56619
© 1995-2008 by Northern Herald Publications, Inc.


PATTON® Oil-filled electric radiators

HI-VAL® (I/O MAGIC®) CD-RW drives


LEXAR® Compact Flash cards

OFFICE MAX® rebates

HEWLETT-PACKARD® product support



CARDONE rebuilt auto parts (sold by many Bemidji parts houses)



        Crow Wing Exteriors

        Brother n' Son Construction

        Morris Roofing & Siding
        * R Johnson Construction (*this is the only positive review)

LOCALNET (An Internet Service Provider)

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PATTON® Oil Filled Electric Radiators
The PATTON® Oil Filled Electric Radiator is a great thing to have if your want a puddle of oil on your floor carpeting. In our test scenario, a just bought new unit, assembled and operated per directions, at the middle setting (900 watts), began to leak oil within a few minutes of operation, and within an hour, had dripped about a 12 inch pool of hot oil beneath the unit.

HI-VAL® (I/O MAGIC®) CD-RW drives
In our test case, this product appeared to perform satisfactorily upon installation, but failed within 6 months. There have been other reports, including by technicians, of this product failing. The product is sold by Office Max and other retailers.

Certain of these products are known, after a year or two of use, to sporadically malfunction, going into an error mode when the rewind or fast forward button is pressed. The machine then has to be manually turned on again, which ejects the tape and resets the counter to zero. As a result, frequently, when the consumer tries to fast forward or rewind, he may have to get up and reinsert the tape, and the counter place is lost. This product has been sold by K-MART® and other retailers.

LEXAR® Compact Flash cards
These are touted as being compatible with most digital cameras, and Kodak® agrees. But in our test case, the Lexar 32Mb card produced sporadic errors when used with the Kodak DC120. The Kodak card (less than $1 more) did not give this problem.

OFFICE MAX® rebates
How can they make money rebating that much? Mail-in rebates are predicated on the theory that a lot of people won't send for  them, and a lot of people will fall through the cracks. Office Max makes a practice of drawing in customers with offers of large rebates. But in our investigation, many people didn't get theirs. Firstly, there's lots of fine print on the rebate form, like rebates won't be sent to P.O. boxes. This lets out the entire City of Walker, where that's the only way people get their mail. There are lots of other loopholes that keep you from getting your rebate, and even compromise the returnability of the merchandise if you send for it. The bottom line is that if a manufacturer really wants to offer a bona-fide rebate, you'll get it at the checkstand - not by mail.

HEWLETT-PACKARD® product support
HEWLETT-PACKARD® was once one of the most dependable brands of computer peripherals one could buy. But no longer. Consumers should be aware that particularly for long-term data storage and retrieval, HP products can no longer be relied upon because HP policy is to not continue support for those products. For example, people who, only a few years ago, bought the HP Colorado 800 MB backup device, sold as a permanent storage device, will now find that if it needs maintenance or repair, those services are unavailable. HP will tell the customer, effectively, that they're SOL (Simply Out of Luck). Data archived with the device is now, for all practical purposes, irre-trievable and lost. Due to HP policy, users may find service for other HP products to become unavailable not too long after they are purchased; more dependable and integrious brands, in the long-term, may be a more worthwhile option.

CELLULAR-ONE® is glad to take your money for monthly service, but they make no guarantee that you'll actually be able to use your phone when you need it, or that it'll ring when people call you. If the "tower's busy" with other calls, your clients will just reach your voicemail - if you wanted that, an answering machine would cost a lot less. Cell-One is now reducing it's analog channels. That means that if your use an analog phone, for more power and range (important up here), you're going to increasingly get a fast-busy signal when you try to use it, even in an emergency, and callers won't be able to reach you. Cell-1 did this without any notice to present customers - people who depend on their cell phone to stay in contact with clients were, one day,  just missing calls and unable to dial out. (This makes a good case for these jokers being government regulated as a public utility.) There aren't presently many service options in the Northland - Cell 2000, in the overall, also has their problems. With any firm, customers may want to sample the service before entering into long-term contracts.

This web site advertises heavily for people to list cars there for a fee. But, in our test, in early 2004, for people looking to buy a used car, the site just doesn't work. Never got to the sample category of cars we were looking for. If buyers can't get it to work, there's not much chance that they'll find your car there. And the site bombards users with lots of garbage "cookies" which may also discourage use.

CARDONE rebuilt auto parts
Caution Needed With Bemidji's Rebuilt Car Parts
(from Vol. 10  No. 1 - 10/25/04)
Rebuilt car parts make sense, both for the wallet and for the environment.
A major cost component of any part is the housing; that's usually practically indestructible; if a
rebuilder makes quality replacement of the little components inside, the part is perfectly fine for
But in Bemidji, virtually all of the parts suppliers, whether Carquest, Auto Value, even NAPA, use
the same jobber, who uses the same suppliers, and don't really give a rat's behind about whether
the parts work. American pride of workmanship used to mean something; it doesn't anymore,
which is why we're (rightfully) "outsourcing" so much. The Taiwanese worker, who may not even
speak English, cares about the quality of the part that leaves his bench. Today's American factory
labourer really doesn't, as long as he gets his benefits. This is compounded when plant
management doesn't care enough to test the parts, either.
And it's no skin off Auto Value's nose if they sell you a part that doesn't work - they make as
much when you bring it back for replacement; the costs of reinstallation and your time, after all,
are usually your problem.
Sooooo ... caution should be exercised when purchasing parts that originated in the shop of the
CARDONE (pron. Car-do-ny) company, of San Antonio, TX (all the Bemidji parts houses use this
supplier - it's in the small type on the box, under the parts house's larger logo).
Those are the brakes. In recent testing, four brake master cylinders, in a row, from this rebuilder
were found to be defective. Causes varied - some leaked fluid out the seal, some drew air. None
were usable.
The Bemidji parts houses just react as if it was routine for this to occur, and they all have lots of
excuses. But there is no excuse for a rebuilder to let master cylinders, to be installed on people's
cars, leave the shop without quality control procedures.
And there is no excuse for the parts house to continue stocking, and selling you, that supplier's
defective parts, until the supplier has taken steps to ensure quality.
Of course, this is Bemidji. The Bemidji parts houses know about this problem, but they are
Bemidjians - they don't give a rat's behind about what they sell as long as they get your money.
They have given no indication of changing suppliers, so it's caveat emptor, as usual. It's up to the
customers to know that CARDONE is putting defective parts on the market, and to insist upon
other brands if they can be found.
The Internet may disclose other parts sources (insist on a warranty that covers shipping if
possible); and, for Bemidjians, out-of-town parts houses may work, if one is going there.
Hopefully, some day, Wal-Mart will expand into this area (they already have dependable tires and
batteries), and put the charlatans out of business, while providing consumers a quality,
dependable source, as Wal-Mart has done with so many other things.

A few dependable tradesmen can be found here, but, as there is no work ethic, most just waste your time, and many homeowners end up doing the work themselves, or it just doesn't get done and the house rots, making money for the demolition guys and the corrupt new home contractors.

    ROOFING - a short survey of contractors

        Crow Wing Exteriors
May give a good estimate, but doesn't show up for follow up and to start job. This is run, near Walker, by Shannon Jacob and a  female, possibly his wife; the phone is usually answered by a machine. Calls are often not returned. When one does reach Shannon and makes an appointment, when the day of it comes, they may receive a call from the female saying something like, "He wanted to bring over some samples, but the roofing supplier hasn't gotten them in yet - they weren't on today's truck -  can we reschedule?" And then he just doesn't show up for the reschedule. If one calls about it, and  actually reaches Shannon, he just hangs up on the customer. This is how they treat their customers, which  really isn't that uncommon here among the building trades. As these people are practiced liars, for the jobs they actually do, the attractive estimate may not be worth the wind that saying it produces.

        Brother n' Son Construction
In Menahga. Makes estimate - doesn't return calls to start work.

        Morris Roofing & Siding
Will schedule estimate appointment and not show up. On day of appointment may call and say that they have too much work already.

        * R Johnson Construction (*the only positive review)
In Hackensack. Of the contractors we surveyed, this is the only one that actually shows up for the estimate and to do the work. And the work is done well. Mr. Johnson takes jobs, large and small, within a reasonable driving distance, including Bemidji.

LOCALNET (An Internet Service Provider)
Localnet provides dial-up Internet service on Northern Minnesota exchanges. It was once a recommended provider, but has changed over the years, and is no longer recommended. If you like being halfway through downloading an 11 megabyte file, and being "bumped" and disconnected, so you have to start all over again, then Localnet is for you. If you put in a service call, the Localnet techs will argue up and down that the problem is on your end or in the phone lines. But it isn't. It's on their end and they just don't want to do anything about it. So, if one wants Internet service that's absolute manure, Localnet is the company to call.