/ Health, Technology

This week in comments – tips, emails and the NHS

Is an automatic tip really a tip? Have you struggled to find emails on company websites? And will you share your NHS medical records with private companies? You’ve debated these topics and more this week.

When is a tip not a tip?

P&O will be adding an automatic daily charge to ‘tip’ its staff – something Cronk11 isn’t happy about:

‘How can it be a tip if it is automatically added to a bill or have a semi-compulsory element? It should be viewed for what it is – a plain rip off and a way to enable cruise lines to pay staff low wages and post artificially low headline prices. It should be outlawed.’

Free isn’t free if it’s already included

John Lewis was rapped by the ASA for advertising ‘free’ guarantees on Apple computers, but Andy thinks this was unfair:

‘If they feel they are able to offer a guarantee which others charge for, then against the wider marketplace it is valid to describe it is free. Anyone doing a price comparison would take this into account when deciding where to shop.’

John Ward agrees:

‘Like others here, I think the ASA have got it wrong on this occasion and I concur in John Lewis’s reaction to the ASA. They will no doubt come up with a different phrase [such as “included”]. Since when has it been against the public interest for a shop with a better offer to declare it in an open and honest fashion? To Dixons I would say “Put up or shut up” – match John Lewis’ guarantee or bite your tongue.’

Why don’t we take out income protection insurance?

James thinks a change of mindset is needed to make more people take out income protection:

‘Most people assume unemployment/redundancy cover is included in all policies, and most expect it to cost far less than it does. Unfortunately, what isn’t realised is YOU are your most important asset, not your car, or your house – none of which you could afford to maintain long term if unable to work!

‘Until that frame of mind is changed, these products will always be seen as a luxury and not a necessity.’

And Justin explains why he has always had income protection insurance:

‘As an adviser who has recommended income protection to many clients over the year I find that most people think it will never happen to them. It was the first insurance I took out as a young man 20 years ago and I still have the policy now. It gave me peace of mind as I have always worked for an employer (and now myself) who didn’t provide anything more than statutory sick pay, so I knew what trouble I would be in if I fell ill.’

Tesco – I can call, I can write, so why can’t I email you?

Which?’s Nikki Whiteman was frustrated not to find Tesco Credit Card’s email address. Commenter NFH think companies want to make it as hard as possible for people to complain:

‘I find that many organisations that do provide an email address nevertheless insist that complaints are handled only via hard-copy letter sent to a postal address. This is clearly a policy to discourage customers from complaining by making it cumbersome and inconvenient to do so.’

The Orange saga – complaining isn’t getting us anywhere

After almost 300 comments on our original Orange price rise Conversation, we’ve followed up with our latest concerns. R Hartley is switching mobile provider:

‘Orange may arrogantly say they are operating within their right – well so am I and several millions of others when we all leave at the end of our contracts. 4% today, big lost customer base tomorrow…’

Anon the mouse comments on Ofcom’s decision not to investigate:

‘So Ofcom bottled it like a typical regulatory body then. After hundreds of complaints and evidence of Orange breaking the conditions that Ofcom set out clearly they pretend nothing is happening. Bank charges reform happened because of someone challenging a bank in court themselves (regulator didn’t want to know). So what I can see is if you want something doing then do it yourself as the “regulators” will watch and not get involved.’

Your NHS record could save lives – will you share it?

NHS patient records are to be shared with private health companies to drive new drug innovations. Jools is completely opposed to giving medical records to private companies:

‘This isn’t about some little NHS laboratory somewhere in England temporarily using our records for the good of mankind. Pharmaceuticals are global and powerful. They are businesses and making big money is their ethic base. Once possessed by them, data will be dealt with and available worldwide by all those who handle or attach to such data. Whoever is willing to pay can have the data for medical research or otherwise.

‘There may be instances where my data is being used for something I would not approve of, but I won’t be able to find out, because it will be “commercially sensitive”. It is not that I don’t want to assist in the progress of medicine, but I would wish to know precisely what I am contributing to.’

Our comment of the week goes to Em, who has no qualms about sharing her records:

‘Most of us are alive and in good health today because, in the past someone, somewhere, was brave and selfless enough to allow a drug or procedure to be developed and tested on their body. If, in turn, some anonymous data about my medical history could improve another person’s life – then good luck with it.’

Comments have been edited due to length, so make sure to read them in full on their relevant Convos (by clicking on the red title link).


If any thing in my records are of use. Certainly let them be used. I have benefitted enormously from all the work that has been done to find more and more ways to improve our health and hence our lives. If using the vast resources that are available in the NHS will help research
it would be wicked not to use them for the benefit of all

I agree, and I am another one who has benefitted, in particular from the development of new prescription pharmaceuticals.

On the Conversation about NHS records, someone suggested that they should be paid for using their information. On that basis, perhaps they would be happy to pay if they need a blood transfusion or an organ transplant.