Sunday, April 22, 2007

Patientline Ripoff

My wife is currently "enjoying" and extended stay in the shiny new Royal Blackburn Hospital, and, I must say, the building is nice, the wards are clean, and the staff are pleasant and professional. The one fly in the ointment is Patientline. As I am sure most people are aware, Patientline provide TV, internet and telephones at each bed, for a fee. The TV and internet package isn't too outrageously priced, but the telephone costs are absolutely horrendous, and their recent increase in call charges has been well publicised.

Anyway, as my wife is probably going to be in for a while, we subscribed to the TV and internet pack. She can browse the web, use Gmail, and watch CBeebies if she so desires. However, when she tried to access Microsoft's web based instant messenger client (as opposed to the downloaded program you have to install) she got a message saying that access to this page was blocked as it "contained material some people find offensive". OK, an over-enthusiastic web filter, so we move on to Google Talk. Same message. Meebo, which offers clients for multiple IM systems. Same message. Every site we tried which would provide any form of "instant" communication with the outside world was blocked as if it contained hardcore porn.

The only people that would find those websites offensive is the people at Patientline, because they provide a way of patients communicating with the outside world without paying their ridiculous phone charges. They haven't had the nerve to block web-based email, but I bet they thought about it!