Recently over this Christmas break, I’ve had to stay at my old haunting-grounds of The Royal Free. Unfortunately, I know the place so well now that I can’t go there without seeing one or another member for staff who doesn’t know me; weather it’s a phlebotomists, porter, nurse or doctor. It’s what comes with being a regular and being a friendly chappy. But over the Christmas, my insides decided to play up a couple of times and I had to be admitted twice for just under a week each.
It’s actually quite rare that I need to don some PJs and have a sleep over though, I think my last bout was a couple of years ago; I can’t even remember. I’m quite wairy of my ‘things’ in there, you hear all sorts of horror stories of people who pretend to be visitors and go about knicking stuff. I remember once when I was in peadatrics when someone pinched the SNES from the kids ward; and the last thing I want is someone knicking my laptop. Don’t get me wrong, they’re the lowest of the low, but there are also lots of people in desperate situations there, who live the kind of horrors that I’ll never be able to compare too. What I see as an iPad someone else would see as a room in a hostal for a month or two, or a little bag of powder or whatever.
I’ve noticed over the years there, it’s slowly becoming more and more privatized, and I wasn’t totally against that. There is a Costa, WH Smiths and Lloyds Phamacy there. I’m not sure how these operations work exactly, but they seem to charge “Train Station Prices”; the sort of price-hike you get in areas of high traffic such as at the Airport. But in exchange for that, there is a plenthora of coffee and availability. The trade-off is that they’re well stocked.
Along with this privitasiation has come a TV and Phone service from a company calling themselves Hospedia. Aside it being an insult to the whole premis their namesakes Wikipedia, I believe their system is a complete and utter scam.
In total, I bought 8 days worth of ‘TV and phone’ and it came to £55. For that, I got 25 channels, about a dozen radio stations, some extremely limited internet (via their own device), and a phone system. I paid for it because I’d go completely nuts without my ‘ollyoaks, if I had to sit in that bed staring at the walls for all that time, it would undoubtably cause adverse effects to my recovery. I would either be so releaved at the prospect of getting out that I wouldn’t be true to my health, or I’d be so fixated on the issues going through my mind that it would only enhance my unwellness – or a combination of both.
I’m quite techy to tell you the truth, I’m normally quite good at it. Their system even had Paypal and a proxy pay-by-text service. But even then, I couldn’t find their ‘cheaper’ bundles. They had 3 levels, ‘big’, ‘value’ and ‘[can’t remember]’. The big bundle got me 25 TV channels, about 50 or so old movies, basic internet and phone. The ‘value’ one got me about 20 TV channels, half the movies, basic internet and phone. And the [can’t remember] one got me BBC1, 2, ITV, C4 & C5.
One of the things about hospitals is that you can’t always tell how long you’d be in there for, so when I thought I’d be there for 3 days but was there for 5, I had to buy 3 + 2, the 3 being cheaper on a per-day than the 2; I could have gone for a 5 day which would have been cheaper too, but I didn’t know I’d be there for that long…. And if you don’t use it up, it’s all bottom-of-the-mustard-jar.
The fact that they’ve used a completely complicated UI, completely slow and basic hardware (although admittedly, the left-on USB ports came in handy, and ovbously they have some hygienic buttons and all that), is not entirely irrevlent. I had to explain on a daily basis on how to use the machine and bumped heads were a common issue.
I also take offence to you putting on daily surveys that take over the main UI, which you either profit from or are including as “part of the deal”; metrics are money.
Why I’m writing to you
I was a bit cheesed off by paying so much for so little, but what cheesed me off the most was as I was leaving. I don’t know if her story is true, but this little old lady (think of your gran; your mum; any little old darling who you hold dear). She’s wearing a hospital garment and a white crocheted wolly hat, it’s so cold outside that her breaths are misting the air.
Two days ago it was Christmas Day, in a few day’s time it’ll be New Years Eve. She tells me that she’s come in with a brain tumour and willy be wheeled out with bowel cancer. She’s no family, and I presume no money.
You could write a book and people would shout “Bullshit at the screen”, except it’s not a film, it’s real. She came up to me and asked for a few quid to add to her pennies so she can get “A few hour’s telly”. She wasn’t joking, she wanted a few hours. Not days, hours. She wanted to bring up the minimum fair.
I saw her straight, because I couldn’t in good concous purchase take-aways, apple products and fags whilst letting this dear old diddy sit in her room staring at the walls wondering if the brain tumour or bowel cancer is going to be the thing to finish her off.
I reckon the greatest expense of staying in hospital shouldn’t be to watch Hollyoaks.
What I’d like.
I understand there are licensing laws and great expense in putting your machines over each bed. But I ask you, please think of alternative revinue streams; you’ve thought about PayPal, text-to-pay & some kind of ‘phone a friend’ service.
Surely you could place adverts in your UI?
– Apply surveying systems in exchange for credit?
– Government supplied subsidy? Even the whole “Credit by Time” system is a money-making exercise due to the fact that people buy too much or too little as they don’t know how long they’d be there for.
– How about talking to the television companies to ask if they’d consider it a charitable donation in order to waver licencing fees?
I don’t know, I’ve only spent 30 minuites writing this, it’s your job, not mine.