Things aren't sounding terribly productive over at the Productivity Council. We heard all about it from Rommely Chan Wai-chuen, of Foreign Press Distributors. He responded to a council brochure advertising a HK$19,000 excursion to the United States for a 'Study Mission on e-Marketing and e-Commerce'. Thirsting for cyber-knowledge, the eight-person SAR contingent boarded a 20-hour flight for Washington DC, along with their Productivity Council leader - study mission co-ordinator S. K. Au Yeung. At journey's end, the group clustered around Mr Au Yeung to learn the whens and wheres of their conference. Turned out there was a slight problem with the 'wheres' part. They'd flown over it five hours earlier. 'There was no e-marketing conference at Washington DC at all,' Mr Chan said. 'The e-marketing conference was in Seattle, Washington State.' Oopsie. To his credit, Mr Au Yeung did his best to make their transatlantic journey worthwhile. 'He tried to entertain us by means of buying lunch for the members,' Mr Chan said. 'Also, he arranged for us to visit many places in Washington DC, such as national museums.' And so it was that the e-marketeers unexpectedly discovered the political history of the United States and the contents of the Smithsonian. Lai See gave the council a call to find out how they felt about it. 'We think it's not very good for our professional image,' laser-sharp corporate communications manager Betty Lee said. 'But I think [the co-ordinator] had it stuck in his brain that this event was happening in Washington, so when he saw 'Washington DC' on the ticket he thought 'That's OK'.' And compensation? 'We can maybe reimburse a certain amount of the fee and let them enrol in related courses free of charge,' she said. Lai See hears one of their upcoming computer courses is a seminar in London on 'Getting The Most Out Of Your Chips'. Let's hope the Productivity Council has done its homework on this one. We have visions of the group arriving to discover that their conference deals with the ins and outs of northern English cooking. This popped up on the Associated Press wires yesterday. 'The Associated Press included an erroneous description of the Islamic faith in a March 26 story on Muslims who feel they have been wrongly stereotyped as radical terrorists. 'The story, which quoted a Muslim resident of Alabama, suggested Muslims believe in submission to Christ. It should have said Muslims believe in submission to the will of God, or Allah.' The word 'Oops' springs to mind. Here's a contest idea I'll bet you never thought of. An SAR Web site is hosting a search for the 'Most Charming Management Consultant in Hong Kong'. In the top two spots, someone called Paul Chen and a Mark Cho are battling it out for the title of Prince Charming. But with month's end looming, the charm contest has become a tad cut-throat. The message board now includes such chat streams as: 'Paul Chen shouldn't be on the board. 'He was meant to show up at work today but has chose to stay on holiday in the Philippines.' And one entitled 'Mark Cho Cheats!!!' This accusation is based on the fact that Mr Cho's popularity rating was said to have jumped from 15 per cent to 45 per cent in the space of 40 seconds. These conspiracy theories followed: OBSERVER: Everybody knows he minored in computer science . . . hey Cho would u license that automatic voting program?? 'DICK' CHO'S FRIEND: Don't worry Dick. We'll back you up. And for those who are jealous out there, find all of your friends and get them to help you out too. MIZ BIG: Dick? Is there any particular reason they call him Dick? ICERED.COM (the people who run the site): Our database can only be assessed by one person in the world. And this person guards the database with his life. There is no cheating element in Mark Cho's votes. There are just a lot of people with a lot of free time. Dear oh dear. It's all getting a bit nasty. Guess that's what's known as a charm offensive.