Thursday, 1 December 2016

Welcome to Localventure - the resource for IFA introducers on private medical insurance

If you are an IFA, general/commerical broker or Accountant who would like to offer their clients a focused and professional service in all areas of the private medical insurance market then you've just landed in the right place.

I've worked in the PMI sector since 1994 for : WPA, Guardian Health, AXA PPP, BCWA Healthcare, Standard Life Healthcare and now (since 2010) run my own specialist medical insurance practice (regulated via Premier Choice Healthcare - FCA No. 312878).

As I worked for many years as a broker consultant I acquire most of my business from professional introducers and have set up my practice to support introducers and their clients in a focused and transparent way that adds value (both form a product and profitability stand-point) to their business.

As the PMI market becomes more complex and technical more and more professionals feel the need to offer a service in this area to their clients but find it difficult to obtain agencies from PMI insurers or associated sales/technical support and of course with the high level of regulation in the pensions and investments markets it become increasingly difficult for anyone but a specialist like myself to stay ahead of the required product research on things like switch criteria and so on.

If you or your practice is considering sub-contracting medical insurance to a third party you will find hundreds of relevant business articles here at the blog and of course I would be delighted to open a dialogue with you. I currently work with a panel of around 40 introducers across the UK and am always pleased to discuss medical insurance with anyone.

I work in the personal and company paid sectors - mainly high net work individual clients and white collar and start up companies but would never turn away an interested client.

I look forward to working with you in the future.

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
Leeds

December 2016

Get your spelling right on LinkedIn - totoly umportunt (ironic mis-spell)

I lost a small piece of renewal business today to another intermediary (in fact the client companies Finance Director changed and the new gentleman decided to use the broker from his previous job so ultimately I didn't 'lose it' as such). The case is in fact via an IFA introducer of mine who is still working closely with the MD of this client on their pension scheme so we're actually hopeful that we will pick up the case again next renewal.

One learns to play the longer game when you've done this as long as I have.

However I was curious about the new broker so I looked at their LinkedIn page. I'm not going to identify the person obviously but I did have a quiet laugh to myself. The company in question is a regional general insurance broker with a one man healthcare 'Division'.

On LinkedIn, the person in charge of their healthcare 'Division' has a one paragraph overview of their current job role on their LinkedIn profile page. The paragraph starts by saying that this person is :

"highly adapt in brokering" and goes on to say they "posses a strong track record"

Losing a client is an inevitable function of being in my business. A clients needs change over time and sometimes you simply can't follow them where they want to go and certainly one cannot be too down about losing a tiddler of a case, even sometimes against an inferior opponent. Circumstances and relationships rule and no one knows that better than me.

But on the positive side I've had over 3,000 hits on my blog this week with several potential new client referrals as a result - as I say playing the long game is always better.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

eBay Auction for my old iPhone 6 Plus

Sold this item on eBay yesterday and invoiced the buyer, 24 hours later he pulled out for what seems like a nonsensical reason. So I've had to re-list it.

If you're interested in a decent, well looked after iPhone (maybe for a child for X-Mas) visit here.

If a reader of the blog buys the phone as a special offer I will post it for free and throw in two cases (a solid shell DC Comics case and a Spigen armour case with slots for 2 credit cards). Just send me a message via eBay saying you're a reader and I'll tie it up with your eBay account if you win.

Any questions send them via eBay or a comment on the blog here.

Happy bidding.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Do I need Private Medical Insurance ?

Lets move aside from the issue of personal or company medical insurance and just consider for a moment some the reasons why people might need this kind of insurance cover.

1) Ability to plan medical treatment - you never know when you're going to fall ill or need treatment and access to the NHS can involve visits to out-patient clinics or diagnostic centres that are inconvenient and don't fit in with out busy work and home-lives. On a personal level I bought private medical insurance (PMI) because as a self employed person I simply cannot take time off work unable to see a consultant it just doesn't fit into my schedule ! I run a busy advisory business, train twice a week at karate and have two children both of whom need regular ferrying about. PMI is a vital safety net to support my busy life style.

2) Quick access to diagnostics and treatment - whether we like it or not the NHS cannot cope fully with the demands put upon it. With that in mind there are always going to be delays and waiting lists. As outlined above, for most people this just isn't good enough. With PMI the client takes control and has immediate access to the consultant and hospital of their choice - no waits for getting in to have out-patient diagnostics done and no sitting on a waiting list for minor but uncomfortable problems. It's worth bearing in mind that PMI works very well for the non-life threatening problems that tend to have long NHS waiting lists.

3) Clean, modern and 'hotel like' surroundings - when you're poorly the last thing you fancy doing is waiting in a crowded waiting room or going into hospital for an op worried about a hospital acquired infection - most private hospitals have state of the art facilities with relatively low occupancy rates and a much larger cleaning budget than the local NHS hospital.

4) Chance for a second opinion - whether you've seen your GP and been referred to a consultant on the NHS or whether you've already gone private if you don't feel that you are getting anywhere with a condition you can go for a second opinion. This is one of the less well know aspects of PMI but subject to getting approval from the claims handler at your medical insurer it is usually possible to get a second opinion if you want one. I've had experience of this myself with a claim my wife had around a year ago. It was a relatively minor issue but having seen a consultant privately and had some tests we weren't happy with the initial diagnosis - I spoke to the insurer (Vitality Health as it happens although this would work with most PMI insurers) and explained our misgivings and they referred us to another more senior consultant in the same speciality. We weren't seeking to complain about the first doctor but rather needed extra re-assurance. As it happened the second diagnosis came back very similar to the first but the second gentleman we saw was able to give us more guidance as to what to expect in the future and how to deal - no more treatment was required and we went away feeling more informed.

5) Costs less than most people assume - I've recently worked with a client and put together a case study on the blog (click here to read the piece) but it's safe to say that one of the reasons people object to buying PMI cover is the cost - it often costs less than you think, even if you're not necessarily in the first flush of youth ! I never charge my clients for providing a pricing overview - ask me if you want to see some provisional costs.

6) Very flexible cover now available - when I first came into the medical insurance industry in 1994 there were lots of insurers (many of whom have now disappeared from the market) but you basically had three options - bronze cover (basic low cost plan) silver (the standard mid-range cover) or gold (all singing all dancing). Different insurers gave these plans different names but it was a very standard 'commoditised' market.

It's really all changed now. Largely for the better.

Most insurers now have an extensive 'tick box' list of benefits, plan options, excesses, added value propositions and so on. I once tried to count how many options there are on one insurers product and literally lost count. Suffice to say product design for clients has become a complex but integral part of my daily work life when advising but the important point is that it is now much easier to create a plan for my clients that meets their needs both for health cover but also their budget.

This list above obviously isn't exhaustive (there are other financial and business reasons people might purchase the cover) but hopefully these will pique your interest as to whether a new PMI plan might work for you. So if you want to find out more about medical insurance then just drop me a line at :

philknight@pch.uk.com

I've been a specialist medical insurance intermediary since 2010 (and in the Health Insurance industry since 1994) and look after literally hundreds of personal and company paid clients - like you they need the right cover at the right price, presented to them in a knowledgeable and transparent way.

Phil Knight
November 2016

Localventure Blog .. State of the Union

I first launched this blog in May of 2010 but it wasn't really 'born' or converted into the current format until January of 2013 and now as we near the end of the fourth proper year of blogging I've begun looking at exactly where the blog has taken me and where it is going in the future.


Over the years I've written about some issues specific to my own business : private medical insurance and also more general business matters and also slotted in the odd personal piece about things I've found of interest.

In the last four years I've had over 51,000 hits on the blog, been invited to appear on business podcasts, had a run of tweets trend on twitter, become a well known name in my own field and acquired numerous new clients and introducers as a direct result of the blog.

For 2017 I am really planning to push my business and the blog forward. When I set up my business in 2010 I began with no clients and no income and have built the business to the point where I'm not consistently earning far more than I ever did as a senior employee of insurance companies and the future is looking good to continue expanding the business moving forwards. I continue to invest in technology to support my clients and as readers of the blog will notice since the summer I have been trying to write more here and make the blog more meaningful for my business.

Going into the New Year I personally am going to focus more on developing new social media strategies and inform existing clients and find new ones and I've even taken on a part time marketing assistant to look at my current social media and do some work around the blog, Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn to make our efforts here even more effective.

So as we finish 2016, I would guess we will end up with in the vicinity of 53,000 hits on the blog and I wonder, in terms of a target if it's possible in 2017 to get that figure up to 100,000 page views in just one more year ?

Hope you all join us for another year of business blogging.

New medical insurance costs less than you think

Last week I was contacted by a client in their early forties who was interested in new cover for themselves but had a strict budget of £ 60 per month, he thought that it would be impossible to offer decent new cover for this amount but I fact-finded the details I needed from him to provide some initial figures and agreed to put together a market review and new client report for him.

Here's an amended excerpt from the pricing table of my report showing some of the cover options available (I have removed the insurer and proper plan details and other bits and bobs of detail I would include in a live client report along with rounding the pricing to the nearest pound - obviously I'm not trying to offer advice on specific products or recommend particular insurers in a blog post or anything  :

Insurer
Product & options
Price
Underwriting Method
ABC UK Limited Hospital list Product

£ 46.00 per month




New Moratorium
DEF & Co Health Cover

£ 51.00 per month




New Moratorium
GHI Inc. Plan of Health

£ 56.00 per month




New Moratorium
JKL Plc Prestige Cover



£ 56.00 per month





New Moratorium

That lowest cost option with 'ABC UK' is in fact a fully comprehensive plan covering full in-patient and out-patient cover and a £ 100 excess per person per plan year. This is a very competitive and comprehensive plan and is the option I have recommended for this particular client at the first stage of my review (before having spoken to them in depth about their more specific requirements beyond the overall price). There is a compromise in that access to hospitals is slightly restricted on this product but local coverage is good for this client and it's an excellent option. Obviously I will run through the product & benefit pro's and con's with the client when we speak.

You see, PMI cover is actually much lower cost than most people imagine, I'm still waiting for this client to come back to me but I'm reasonably confident that he will go ahead - if you thought that medical insurance was going to be much more than this story indicates then why not give me call or drop me an e-amil and I will look at a free review for you too.

Catch up with me on : 07792 075748 or philknight@pch.uk.com

Cheap Smartphones for sale

Recently upgraded to a new iPhone 7 Plus and I am therefore selling off my old, trusty work-horse handset - a two year old iPhone 6 Plus. A great and reliable phone which I would keep as a back up but the 7 is proving super reliable already.

I've really looked after the 6 Plus over the last couple of years and kept it in a case. As such it's in great condition for a used phone - couple of (very) light scratches on the top of the screen and some tiny dinks on the top of the phone where the case didn't cover fully.

Still holds a charge ok and I was getting through a full day on an overnight charge. It was bought direct from Apple so is SIM free and I'll throw in a free case too.

It's for sale on eBay - click here. It's probably going to go for around £ 280.

At the same time I'm selling my one year old LG G4 32 GB in metallic grey. Bought this on a contract last year to play with but just preferred using IOS so this phone has barely had a fortnights usage and it in perfect condition. Again on eBay here.

Have a look at the auctions and bid if you fancy one.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What's it like to have your medical insurance needs reviewed ?

If you're a prospective client who's interested in looking at medical insurance what is the process, how will I approach your case ?

Well the first job with a new client is to explain the need for independent advice, tell them who I am and some of the regulatory rules around how it works and give them my client terms of business letter - an FCA requirement. Don't worry though, even this regulatory bit is fairly painless and only takes a few moments (although it's obviously important). If we aren't meeting and I'm working over the phone or by e-mail obviously I'll send you over the relevant documents and explain what they all mean.

Then comes the clever bit. We chat, I ask you some questions about yourself and your requirements - this part is called fact-finding. I note all of this down and use the information supplied to provide a review of the market from a number of insurers. As an independent whole of market adviser I can go to several insurers appropriate for your requirements.

For most new clients I will obtain prices for a range of products, benefit levels and excesses so we have a number of different options to discuss. For personal clients I will turn around a new client report in two to three working days and for companies in five or six (a bit longer because companies reports tend to be a bit more complex and insurers take a bit longer to produce price illustrations).

This service is incidentally free to all of my clients - I only receive a commission (from the insurer, not the client) if the business proceeds and you take my advice.  

Once the report is prepped I will send you over the pdf copy of the report by e-mail and arrange to discuss it when convenient. I'll also usually at this stage make an initial recommendation based on the pricing and our chat but obviously this is pending final discussions with the client. In many cases I will need to go away and tweak some of the quotes to meet needs more exactly. Start to finish the process takes around a week to ten days in total usually and for you, other than actually filling in the form and paying the premiums, the time commitment is probably 20 or 30 minutes. The aim is to sort the right cover for you and ensure that I'm giving you the information you need in a succinct and transparent way.

I've been doing this now for a lot of years and my experience is that when spending their money on medical insurance my clients want the price, the information, the advice and access to someone who knows what they're talking about but equally they do not want to waste their time.

All in all, setting up or reviewing a medical insurance plan is a quick and easy process for the client and I am always delighted to chat about how this works with potential new clients even if they don't decide to move ahead - as I mention above, a review is free and you might be surprised how low cost PMI cover is or how much money I can save you against your current renewal premium.

For more information, contact me on 07792 075748 or philknight@pch.uk.com 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Don't always believe what people tell you

I received my car insurance renewal this week.

It has increased by £ 13 per month (no claims or accidents) but its ok because the insurer tells me there is no need to call, they've searched for the best priced policy, checked against other leading companies and now sent me the cheapest plan.

Funnily enough I went to a certain well known insurance comparison site (simples) and have the same cover plus breakdown assistance for £ 28 per month less than the proposed renewal.

Advice is always check these renewals.

Back to medical insurance .... when your renewal comes through don't just accept the terms - give me a call and I will (for free) sanity check the price and product.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Top Gear 2 - the adventure continues

So I loaded up my Amazon Prime trial and carried on watching Top Gear as if it had never been off the air. Same mansploitation vibe between the hosts, same irreverent approach to, well, everything, same segments, perhaps slightly more sweary and near the knuckle but of course you can't get sacked from the internet can you ?

It was all delightfully non-politically correct almost as if we'd gone back in time to 2005 which of course basically we have. This is of course The Grand Tour of which I speak, a show so 'pre' the financial crash of 2008 I could almost feel the end of year bonus being spent on Hyper Cars.

Overall it was of course not a return to form, Top Gear pre JC sacking never really lost it. So more of a continuation but with more planes and a live band. Watching the show, the first five minutes literally killed the BBC's current incarnation of Top Gear by recapturing that which made Clarkson, Hammond and May's incarnation of the show just ... better : nostalgia for past glories, pathos, bromance and a direct line into the zeitgeist of a lot of the population of the UK.

The on-going if slightly offensive (insert sub-group or nation to mock here) boyish banter won't suit everyone but then it never did. What Amazon and TGT trio have done is resurrect Top Gear - one of the most popular TV programs of all time and give everyone who ever loved it exactly what they wanted but on steroids.

Not sure if there's really any point Matt LeBlanc turning up to shoot Season 2(?) of the new Top Gear for the BBC - because Top Gear is back on Amazon and I'm thinking about cancelling Netflix for three months to move over to Amazon Video for a bit.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Private Medical Insurance Renewals

If you've had your medical insurance through recently and it has increased more than you expected then you need to speak to an independent medical insurance intermediary like myself.

Every month I review renewals for dozens of my clients checking that pricing remains reasonable and it is a vital part of looking after their medical insurance plans more generally.

As a general principle I initially check the increase against last years price and would view (taking into account age increases and medical inflation) an increase of less than 10% as usually acceptable. If the price goes up by 10% or more this more or less automatically would lead me to sanity check this pricing by undertaking a full market review for the client. This may not be with a view to switching insurer necessarily (although that can be an option) but rather the client and I need to understand how their pricing is calculated and if anything can be done to mitigate any increase. The process is relatively involved and a full renewal review usually goes out to a client in two to three working days.

If you have received your medical insurance renewal through and are not happy with the new proposed amount don't just automatically renew with your current insurer - drop me a line or click here and I will gladly undertake a free review for you.

Phil Knight
07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Prospective new IFA professional introducers

In the last couple of weeks I have been writing to a number of new prospective IFA introducers in and around the North of England and if any of them has had time to check out this or other blog posts I would like to bid you welcome.

If always amazes me that in 22 years of working with and looking after IFA practices on the subject of medical insurance I still regularly find large, local practices that I have never heard of dotted all around the country.

My experience is that many IFA practices have the odd medical insurance plan or have shied away from writing that kind of business and my aim when working with them is very simple. To help them in this product area (with no extra work required) in such a way that their on-going relationship with their client is supported and both they and I receive additional income whilst the client receives professional, cogent advice on all of their medical insurance needs.

So if you represent an IFA practice that might consider sub-contracting advice on medical insurance to an independent healthcare adviser like myself please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Phil Knight
Nobemver 2016

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The pro's and con's of an out-patient limit on your medical insurance

One of several ways to keep the costs of medical insurance down is to elect to limit out-patient benefit. This (depending on the insurer) will being the price down by 15% to 20% or thereabouts assuming a £ 1,000 limit on out-patient consultation benefit per person per annum.

For younger clients in particular who are likely not to claim so often this can often be a fantastic compromise, bringing the price of premiums down so as to be affordable whilst not fatally compromising the overall effect of having the cover.

It's important though to understand how different insurers police this limited out-patient cover. Some will only limit out-patient consultations with consultants and surgeons but still include costs of diagnostic testing in full whilst others will lump both together within the plan limits. Most will include the most expensive scans (e.g. MRI, CT and PET Scans) in full regardless of any out-patient limit whilst others offer a tick box approach allowing clients to choose exactly which version of the above to adopt.

There are also various levels of limits out there in the market. Some offer a range from nil to £ 1500, some just £ 1,000 and so forth.

Whatever your views on this cost saving and how your medical insurance plan needs to be structured one thing is clear to me. Anyone considering buying a medical insurance plan needs to take professional advice from an adviser like myself to ensure their out-patient cover works for them. The simple reason is that, almost without exception every PMI claim starts with out-patient benefit being claimed and many never progress any further. This means that whilst in-patient and day case cover is a vital element of a PMI plan, the 'coal face' of every PMI plan is the out-patient benefit and how it is set up by the client at point of sale and then how it is administered by the medical insurer.

I've been working in the medical insurance field since 1994 and have run my own practice since the end of 2010 and one of the most common themes I come across when speaking to new clients (who have existing cover in place) is dissatisfaction with how their O/P cover has been set up. Sometimes they've simply misunderstood how the plan works or what is covered but quite often the out-patient benefit just doesn't meet their current requirements. The most common situation is an older client (say aged 50 plus) who's had cover for many years but has a limited out-patient plan that simply no longer suits their lifestyle.

Either way, a review of the market following a more in-depth fact find with the client is often a simple way to adjust their cover and ensure the plan works for them moving forwards. 

Summing up, out-patient limits are certainly a viable strategy when setting up and managing your PMI. It's not for everyone however and what looks like a simple decision - slightly reducing the cover to lower monthly costs can have critical effects on the cover - you just need to discuss them with your adviser and understand the implications of what you are buying.

If you've got a plan with a limited out-patient benefit and would like a free review of your cover just drop me a line : philknight@pch.uk.com

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Trumpocalypse versus Snowpocalypse

Not quite sure which is worse, the outcome of the US Presidential Election or the first snow of the season here in Leeds.
Walking the dogs on the cycle path 

Either way there's a cold breeze blowing.

There was literally a couple of centimetres of snow on the ground, nothing on the road but there still managed to be a mile long tail back of traffic outside my house. Luckily we were not planning on going out other than to walk the dogs - a good day to be inside.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Leeds Premier Karate in Yeadon Leeds LS19

In my spare time I run a small karate club in North Leeds. It is a Shukokai style and I have been doing this style of karate since 2010 and my previous style since 1980.

Over the Summer we had a bit of a debacle with training venues. Our current one let us down right at the end of the school year (we train in a school hall) and then we couldn't find a holiday venue as our usual people had booked to another client and we were left with nowhere to train for the whole of August.
One of our younger senior belts - lunge punch

Club Instructor - Sensei Phil
As a result we actually lost a number of members who didn't come back to training when things got back to normal in September.

I'm therefore now having a push on new members and we are advertising at local schools, on Vivatreet, Craiglist and so forth plus I thought it was worth mentioning here on the blog - with around 25,000 readers per annum maybe one or two would be interested.

You can find out more about what we do and how we train either by calling me : 07792 075748 or via the club website : http://yeadonkarate.weebly.com

We train twice a week on Monday and Wednesday from 6.00pm - hope to see you there !

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Why use an independent healthcare adviser to transact medical insurance business

Those IFA's and General Brokers who have worked with me for a number of years know that I have been in the medical insurance market for a long time (since 1994) and have run my own practice, working primarily with professional introducers since 2010.

A number of medical insurers including Aviva and Vitality Health have their own direct sales teams who also try and 'sign up' independent brokers to refer clients, via introducer agreements, to them. As I've believed very strongly in fair independent advice for clients and introducers for many years I thought it was worth raising this issue in my November sales mailer.

There's nothing wrong with working with a single insurer on PMI but of course the massive benefits of working with an independent broker like myself are as follows :

Access to whole of market - I simply don't have or need a 'one size fits all' approach to advice.

On-going support - I work with new and renewing clients each and every year. Changes in FCA rules coming in 2017 will increase the value of independent advice at every renewal.

Re-broking Service - a clients needs change over time, I can look at any client and assess if we need to move insurers at some point in the future. It's an obvious point but direct business writers just do not have this option. If the client moves insurers and you're working direct, you lose them as a client.

Experience - I've been in the PMI market for 22 years and insurance in general for 27 years now - all of that time working with independent brokers or as one.

Time for clients - I'm not working for a faceless bureaucracy. I run my own boutique practice aimed solely at supporting your clients.

On-going income - I split both initial and renewal commission with my introducer accounts so there is an on-going income stream from each client.

Expertise with Professional Introducers - everything in my career lead me to using introducers as my primary source of business. I am considered one of the leading proponents of transacting business this way (feel free to Google me in this context) and I have invested time and money into supporting my introducers and their clients.

There really is no compromise in working with an independent like me in the way that (as per the points above) there can be if you elect to choose to work with just one insurer. Certainly please feel free to give me a call before you sign an introducers agreement with an insurer direct to discuss some of the above issues and how I might help.

If you'd like more information on how I work with introducers or have a case you'd like to discuss just contact me as below.

Kind Regards

Phil

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
(Part of Premier Choice Group, FCA No. 312878)
T. 07792 075748
E. philknight@pch.uk.com
W. www.pch.uk.com/consultants/phil-d-knight/

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Surely there are more super powers out there

Big comics fan and a subject I have touched occasionally on in this blog. As the regular visitors will know.

I've watched with interest the new Netflix Marvel shows : Daredevil seasons one and two, Jessica Jones and now Luke Cage (with The Punisher, Iron Fist and then Defenders all to follow along with likely season three of DD and 2 of JJ). All great fun and interesting if a little worthy sometimes. Certainly a noteworthy interlude to the Cinematic Universe and frankly low brow crap that is 'Agents of Shield'.

However one thing is bugging me. Considering the street level antics of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage why oh why do JJ and LC basically have the same super powers (I know why they have them in the comics - that's not the question I'm asking - I want to know why out of all the Marvel characters they could have chosen they chose Jessica and Luke given their nearly identical power set). Now I know they are subtly different - Jessica is strong (and at least in comics) can kind of fly/jump real high and Luke Cage is bullet proof, really strong oh and can jump really high ....

Aside from the invulnerability (incidentally a shot gun real close is still a problem for Luke) the power set is boringly similar to the point where any fight involving Jessica or Luke is usually identical involving bashing people into walls or roofs or throwing them out a window. When the characters fought each other the similarity is brought home even more - in JJ when the two fought whilst Luke was mind controlled by Kilgrave they ended up in almost a stalemate - not only are they super strong they almost identically super strong. Yawn. They also chucked each other threw walls, a lot of walls. I bet their set designer hates plastering fake walls by now.

Don't get me wrong the hip hop and retro blaxploitation vibe of Luke Cage, as well as homage to the characters slightly dubious backstory within the Marvel Comics universe is excellent and perfectly judged. I just wonder now if a non-powered marital arts fighting character like Iron Fist is going to end up so similar to Daredevil that we have the same thing again. Wait though Daredevil has a unique gimmick - he's blind and has radar sense, then again Iron Fist can channel his chi into an unstoppable iron fist strike - ho hum.

Fitness as a metaphor for business

Setting up a business is like getting fit.

When it all begins at first you are excited, determined to succeed and there's always a reason for doing it. You want to be healthier, shed a few pounds, lose the holiday weight. You need too earn money, convert an idea into reality and impose your business idea on the world - make your business a reality or turn your body into a finely tuned mass of muscle.

For the first few weeks and months it all goes great. If you stick at it things go well. If you shirk you will fail. The analogy holds.

Slackers fail early on but getting fit and starting the business go well. In the early days you lose weight quickly. Similarly those early business tasks are quick and easy rent an office, buy in stock, design a website, call a few potential clients. This can all be done in the first few weeks.

That's the problem though - the low hanging fruit. It's too easy to be beguiled by early success. In business the limited company is set up along with the Linkedin profile and you pick up a couple of clients early on. Maybe these clients are acquaintances or family/friends. They provide enough income to get you through the first quarter. Or you're healthier and try that first 10K race and manage to finish in a reasonable time.

Three months, or six months or a year on and now we are in a totally different situation. We're now maintaining our fitness or running the neophyte but growing business. Totally different set of skills are now required, more technical often and definitely needing a different mindset.

Once you're at a reasonable level of health you need to maintain things, ensure that your training regimen is pushing you forward not back. Different types of training - running, martial arts, cross training, walking all needed to make sure that next time the 10K is competitive.

The business is ticking along but you need to maintain what you have, keep existing clients and find more - the quick wins of early on are over and then, disaster. you lose an early client or fail to win a deal you expected to be easy.

To finish over-egging this analogy, you are days before that third 10K and you pull a hamstring. Maybe the training was too much (working too long hours) or perhaps you are over prepared (you have been bugging that existing client for an answer on an extension to your contract) or (in some ways worse) you stumbled unexpectedly in a ditch whilst jogging - just lost a client through external circumstances beyond your control.

Point is, setting up in business is like getting fit. Running a business is like staying fit - you need to be constantly be on your game, changing things up, trying new techniques and always preparing for the unexpected injury.

Discuss .....

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

EDC Update

Have a made a few changes/updates to my personal every day carry as per the photo below :

My EDC - October 2016
So we have the following :

  • Iphone 7 Plus in a Spigen 'Rugged Armour' case
  • Mpow Swift blue tooth headphones
  • Credit Card sized leather wallet (£ 9.99 from a garden centre !)
  • Paracord bracelet with fishing line and firestarter
  • Victorinox 'Huntsman' knife - this lives in my bag - too bulky for EDC
  • LED Lanser mini flashlight & case
  • Victorinox 'Spartan' knife - compact and tidy, really good to have on hand
  • minimum keys I can get away with
  • Apple Watch V1.0 for training, notification and of course - telling the time

Still looking at additional updates, not happy with keys floating loose in front jean pocket so in the market for some kind of keychain/carabiner and also although I love the utility of the Spartan knife and use it daily I want another small pocket knife so I have one spare for running/walking in the woods to keep with workout gear etc. - considering a low cost folding blade that I can afford to misplace - have ordered a CRKT Journeyer to see what it's like but might return if I can't get on with it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Personal medical insurance

Some weeks ago I put together and posted a blog post here about corporate wellness, positing the question as to whether companies really need to bother about the health of employees in terms of putting in place medical insurance and other health related schemes.

This has been the most popular post I've ever put up at this blog and I have picked up several corporate enquiries on the back of it.

This has gotten me wondering if the same issues hold true in the personal market. Pondering this I think a different approach intellectual approach is required. In essence these products when bought for an individual  or family are not really a financial purchase (except insofar as they cost money to buy) but rather a purchase born out of sometimes quite selfish personal needs.  The exact reason will vary from person to person - perhaps a bad experience with the NHS or a relative who needed care and didn't receive it. A worry about hospital acquired infections. Any number of factors can come into play.

So imagine one is considering buying a new private medical insurance plan. What does one get ? Well instant access to (depending on the cover purchased and underwriting) pretty much any medical treatment or procedure that you might need with the doctor and private hospital of your choice. This access can have a large impact on how one sources medical treatment and the knock on effect that being ill has for you and your family.

So for private treatment generally there is no NHS waiting list, nor long waits in an out-patient clinic waiting room rather instant access to the top doctor when you need it in nice surroundings.

For personal purchasers of medical insurance this type of plan then is a personal choice that can have enormous positive impact on the ability to plan necessary treatment around your work and family life and know that the best treatment is there as and when you need it - so all in all a different scenario to a corporate sale.

The other thing to bear in mind with regards to personal PMI is the cost - often it costs a lot less than people imagine. I've just done a report for a client today aged 27 and for him, prices (for a mid-range plan) vary from £ 30 to 45 per month - most people over-estimate the costs of medical insurance and it can be a lot less than you imagine especially if we look at decent cover but with a higher excess.

For more information contact : Phil Knight, Independent Healthcare Consultant - 07792 075748 or philknight@pch.uk.com

Monday, 19 September 2016

PMI for a new company

Ok, so you're running a small business for the first time.

The office lease is signed off, two or three key staff in place and you have that idea burning a hole in your brain.

What do you need next. Well certainly not buy company private medical insurance (PMI). Well not yet anyway.

But you will at some point in the future and here's why ...

At some time though in the next 18 months you're likely to have a health issue for yourself or one of those key people you need to make that business idea real. Hopefully it won't be too serious, perhaps someone won't be able to get to work because they're ill or waiting for a minor procedure. It might not be business critical and cost you money or clients, this time. Maybe next time though it could be.

Put simply you simply can't have vital team members sitting on NHS waiting lists only able to work part time or at less than maximum capability and that's when you might call someone like me to talk about medical insurance.

If you were to call me we would talk products and numbers, prices and excesses.  In reality medical insurance isn't really facts and figures and technical specifications. It's about the health of your business and it's human capitol.


Friday, 16 September 2016

New podcast widget on my blog - listen to PMICast from the comfort of your desktop

Over the years I have played around with my two podcasts : PMICast, a business podcast focusing on private medical insurance , primarily for my introducer clients and 'Where's Wilson' my occasional SF and Fantasy 'cast.

Of the two PMICast has been the most productive with 67 episodes available for download. Time and expansion of the business haven't really allowed much time for this kind of fairly labour intensive social media work but I do think that it is time I stepped back up and began thinking about getting PMICast up and running again. With that in mind I have just put a widget back on the blog that links to my pod bean website and from the widget your can play any of my podcasts straight from the desktop so please have a play around and listen to a couple.

In addition I am planning to revamp the podcast, making it a little shorter, (hopefully) getting a little more regular - probably every two weeks and looking to make the content more consumer focused rather than all about the IFA and introducer side of things. so watch out for that coming to a pod catcher near you.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Do you have personal medical insurance ? Or PMI tricks of the trade

If you're insured via a company scheme you still need to keep reading this post - you never know when you might leave, get made redundant, stop being eligible, set up your own business and you might need the cover I'm about to talk about too !

So do you have PMI - 'Private Medical Insurance - in place ?

If you're not in a medical insurance scheme through work you really need to think about whether you need this kind of cover. Broadly medical insurance pays for all eligible secondary care - so usually no GP related services but (depending on the plan benefits you have) all secondary care that is required afterwards - seeing a consultant, having diagnostic tests, any in-patient and day case treatment you might need and then follow ups and therapy afterwards.

Does that sound like something you might be interested in ? If so here are some additional factors or 'tricks of the trade' (from a 22 year veteran of the medical insurance industry) for you to consider :

Waiting lists - for people who need treatment in hospital waiting on an NHS waiting list can be both inconvenient and painful and with PMI there are no waits, you just book your consultation and treatment (once the insurer authorises it) with the consultant. Some insurers ask you to visit a particular doctor but many allow the choice of any consultant which means you and your GP find you the right clinician for your exact health requirements.

Specialist attention - within the private healthcare system you will never see a junior doctor. You will always receive the best attention of the senior doctor. This specialist attention is a vital point and many nurses and support staff in private hospitals enjoy the reassurance of knowing that their doctor colleagues are experienced and at the very top of their game as obviously do the patients.  The ratio of nurses to their patients in private clinics is also high so this doesn't hurt either !

Cleanliness - private hospitals have a deserved reputation for excellent cleanliness. In particular infection rates for hospital acquired infections (which all treatment providers are required to report) are considerably lower in the private sector. The insurer : BUPA reported recently that over 65% of people note hospital clean-ness as a factor when purchasing the cover. In short private hospitals can afford a much more intensive and effective infection surveillance program

Ease of access and worklife balance - the above factors mean that for certain people not having private medical isn't isn't an option. If you need to juggle a busy work and home life one simply cannot afford to be unable to access medical treatment quickly and conveniently.

If your job has any kind of level of responsibility then most couldn't simply wait on an NHS list to see a consultant and not be able to work. More so, taking off time during work for many at all career levels is difficult - with PMI you plan which doctor you see and when.

Flexibility and affordability of cover - modern medical insurance plans offer an enormous range of plan options and I can almost always find some cover for people that ticks most of the boxes we've discussed above. PMI is actually an awful lot more affordable than most people think, especially given the actual costs of private treatment when you look into it.

So there lots of things to think about and I'm passionate about this, the number of clients who come up to me after getting sick and wanting the cover but of course by that stage the conditions they need to be covered for will possibly be excluded by underwriting - NOW is the time to act and not after you have a live medical problem.

Generally, however old you are the cover is probably going to be less than you might think for a plan that is at least halfway decent and it is vital that you speak to an independent broker like myself to find out which cover and which insurer might suit you.

Over the last six years of running my own private medical insurance advisory practice I have advised hundreds of personal clients including many high net worth individuals but I recognise that regardless of income or age everybody needs to take control of their health and finances and my role is to facilitate that for you.

For more information contact :

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
Part of Premier Choice Group
T. 07792 075748
E. philknight@pch.uk.com
@localventure2 on Twitter Or

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Do you need a corporate wellness strategy

In my recent blog post on the subject (http://localventure.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/corporate-wellness-strategy-do-you-need.html) I talked about the different types of insurance products and support services that can assist your company with keeping staff happy, well and productive.

It's amazing how many clients I speak to who really do not have a wellness strategy at all for their staff, who in fact do not really give it any thought at all. Is this approach short sighted ?

It is not my role to bully or cajole clients into understanding that they do need a strategy around their human capital but to me it simply stands to reason - if you don't invest in your staff's workplace, mental and physical well-being then they will not be contented or motivated to work to their full capacity and inevitably they will take more and more time off work - it may be easier for some to think of this as a purely financial transaction, a little money spent in advance of the problem prevents future breakdown.

A little bit like spending money on maintaining a car to prevent it breaking down at a later date with a more catastrophic and expensive fault later on.

Although not directly analogous/applicable to this situation a friend of mine came out with an expression recently that although I had not heard or used before made me wish it was mine :

"Buy cheap, Be prepared to Buy twice"

Seems reasonably relevant and more or less covers my point above I think.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Everyday Carry

Whilst I was on holiday I was introduced to the 'Leatherman' series of multi-tools. Had never really heard of them before (see below, always been a Swiss Army kind of person).

As a lapsed pen knife fan (always wanted one as a kid but was never allowed and it drove me mad) I ended up ordering this amazing new (to me) multi-tool for use around the house, for DIY when out walking and so forth.

During my research (yes I really am that nerdy) into which model to invest in I watched a lot of YouTube reviews and as a consequence came across this an American phenomenon which has made it's way over here called 'Everyday Carry' - google it and you will, like I did discover a world of oddly OCD people who obsess over pocket bulge, the weight of titanium and the benefits of pocket note books versus smart phones.

Now do not misunderstand me, it may be a bit of an odd, even a fairly obvious, if slightly sub-conscious thing (who doesn't think every now and then about what they carry around with them on a daily basis) but I am finding it alluring. It turns out that EDC (as we proponents call it) is not just OCD by any other name but rather a lifestyle choice and it really does make you think about focusing on task and ensuring you have the right tool at hand at all times. Good idea for business and entrepreneurs me thinks too !

So on the surface it is a bit odd, however isn't it sensible to carry the stuff around with you that you need and ditch all the other rubbish that ends up in your pockets or coat or bag for no reason. I'm finding that as I read more it's about slimming down some items (wallets for example) but adding other items to your personal kit. I never dreamed of carrying a torch but my new mini flashlight is so much more powerful than the one on my phone, more accessible and a lot less power intensive.

One of the things you'll see on EDC websites is a photo of a persons kit along with a brief description. I'm a fairly new and to be honest slightly bewildered/half hearted EDC'er at the moment but here's my starting out kit as of today :

My EDC
Nappy/Poo Bags - we have a 14 week old puppy - do the math !
Iphone 6 Plus - trusty work horse smart phone
Sennheiser ear phones in pouch
Cash for parking/coffee (maybe even a muffin ?)
Leatherman Wave - just to stress, this is not legal to carry without a good reason in the UK due to having locked blades - I only use it at home or when out walking in the wilds.
LED Lanser PSE mini flashlight
House and car key
Animal Wallet (due to be slimmed down !!!)
13 inch MacBook Pro 2014
Apple Watch
Fitbit Charge

Seems like a lot to me so I am planning to slim down a little although to be fair the MacBook only goes out with me on work appointments otherwise it lives in my office along with the Leatherman that sits on my desk and the flashlight which comes out for nighttime dog walks etc.

I'm looking for a slimline swiss army knife to add to my keys and be a fallback for the Leatherman for everyday use (have a Victorinox Huntmans for my bag on order along with a Spartan for my key chain).

Will update if this EDC thing proceeds - am finding it a little all consuming at the moment but if nothing else it encourages me to be prepared and walk more with the dogs to justify carrying proper outdoorsman type kit.

Nerdy, ODC, - you bet but great fun !

Monday, 8 August 2016

Welcome back from holiday

First day back in the office following just over two weeks away (Bristol and South Devon). Over the break have done a fair amount of client work so nothing too desperate sitting in my in-box.

Just had a call from Talk Talk (?), my fibre broad band and home phone line provider. They tell me that in the last two weeks there has been an enormous amount of data being used by my broad band account - an odd statement since I have unlimited data on my home account.

So I mentioned that wasn't possible as no one had been in the house for nearly three weeks. Ah ha they said. Someone can 'hack in' with a 'worm' even if you have a password and use your data.

So he then asked me what business I used my broad band for - I replied that was confidential, "fine" says he. Then he asks me if my brand band line was in use at the moment, puzzled I asked "if you're really Talk Talk should't you be able to tell me that ?" This was apparently one sarcastic question too many as the once seemingly professional caller told me to "expletive off" and hung up on me.

The lesson, never give out any information at all during in-coming calls without checking the source  and have some fun with them if you possible can. When anyone who provides me a service contacts me, particularly by phone but also by e-mail if the old spider sense starts tingling always contact them yourselves to check especially with people who should have access to phone numbers, technical info, bank details etc - there's no reason for them to contact you unless there is an issue and calling them yourself proves you are speaking to the company for real and not some scammer in a call centre in Moscow.
Henry the Cocker-Poo

Friday, 1 July 2016

Corporate Wellness Strategy - do you need one ?

If you are running a business you do not need me to tell you that your work force, the 'human capital' within your business, is of vital importance.

Many companies will have the odd product to help staff health and well-being : medical insurance or income protection, perhaps a cash plan. In most cases very few businesses, certainly very few smaller businesses will have an over-riding strategy to keep staff health, happy and motivated. What follows below are some basic areas of insurance and health products that can assist with this vital area of employee support.

Private Medical Insurance - one of the cornerstones of health protection for a business. Immediate access to private treatment for all employees when needed. The advantages for the staff are fairly self evident and tie in to the main advantages for the company. Access to healthcare with no waiting lists and timed at the most convenient point for the business. Faster access, better treatment (usually) and quicker recuperation times mean staff are healthier, happier and when treatment is needed everything happens faster meaning less time off work sick at it's most basic.

Many insurers will also offer additional added value benefits, usually aimed at providing health related benefits or discounts. These and the core benefits of medical insurance usually mean that staff value PMI benefits over other employee benefit products. This means that as well as a 'health benefit' PMI is also key when recruiting and attempting to retain staff. In other words, words once staff have had this benefit and derived value they will usually be loath to lose it.

It's also worth noting that (as you might imagine) medical insurance is a key benefit that staff will regularly use so often obtaining immediate value from.

Income Protection - I would suggest that income protection is another health cornerstone for employees. Basically a product that pays an income - as the name suggests - when a member is unable to work through sickness. There are usually limits on cover (taking into account statutory disability type payments for example) and often a waiting or qualifying period before the payment kicks in.

In some ways I would view PMI and Income Protection as two sides of the same coin. Medical insurance pays immediately for private treatment then IP kicks in several weeks later (following the qualifying period) usually when the company sick pay ends.

Cash Plans - a product which offers discrete, usually fairly low value, cash benefit across a variety of types of health treatment. Often an adjunct to a PMI scheme or put in place as a low value alternative to full medical insurance. The key benefits of this type of cover tend to be for routine dental treatment and optical cover. As neither of these is typically available within a core medical insurance product there is some value to be found here even if some of the benefits are quite low value.

There is a trend at the moment for cash plan providers to offer a benefit that pays a PMI excess. this can often be a good tactic for companies to reduce overall PMI plan costs whilst adding in additional value for staff. There is some controversy within the market though as to how sustainable this sales tactics, driven by providers, actually is.

Dental Insurance - given the relatively low cash value levels of cash plans full dental insurance can be a useful way of adding in full dental benefits for staff and like PMI employees really value this cover and regularly will use it. Dental is often found in progressive businesses and those whose culture might demand this kind of cover e.g. American owned companies.

It's also worth considering that dental work, whilst not life threatening does often have time off work implications and a properly set up and managed dental scheme, like PMI can seriously cut down time off work for a business.

Health Screening - as part of a drive to create health prevention is is now fairly standard to offer varied health checks (well-person, executive check ups and the like) for senior employees to promote a healthy lifestyle but also ensure key employees are able to work at peak efficiency.

Sickness Absence Management - run and monitored by HR in many cases a full SAM capability handles the notification of illness by staff to the business, reports MI around this to the business and typically handles return to work scenarios and will often liaise with PMI and IP providers to offer initial triage and treatment options. For larger business this program in tandem with other product areas can be useful in understanding their staff absence profile and enable pro-active measures to be undertaken.

Employee Assistance Programs - at their most basic an EAP is simply a helpline aiming to provide staff support around stress and other lifestyle type problems. As currently constituted a modern EAP would typically offer a telephone helpline staffed by counsellors, the possibility of face to face counselling (usually 6 or 8 sessions per annum) and often a legal helpline as well. The advantage for the business is covering off some of their duty of care responsibilities to staff and gaining MI that give insight into staff health and morale. I would point out though that all management information from an EAP would be anonymised. Again an EAP tends to be (although not exclusively) for larger businesses. There can be value though for groups of 45 or 50 staff upwards.

Occupational Health - onsite support usually provided by clinicians (doctors and specialist nurses). This is one of the older forms of health cover for business and despite the increased 'health and safety' culture in which we exist is really a dying art. At one time most factories had a full time Occy. Health capability but more recently most OH is supplied by larger specialist businesses who offer visits from clinicians or helpline support in this area. Increasingly the workplace H & S support is provided by the companies HR function with the NHS or private PMI providers left to catch the fall-out.

There are a number of additional areas of employee benefits - shopping discounts schemes, legal advice, cycling schemes and so on but I have endeavoured to highlight the main 'health' related areas.

Obviously no company (unless they are ridiculously cash rich) would ever provide all of these benefits but proper advice on the companies requirement from a specialist adviser like myself can be valuable. Research has shown (please don't ask me to quote it as I'm struggling to pin down the publication but it was paid for by AXA PPP when they launched a new healthcare plan in the late 1990's) that once a PMI scheme reaches a certain size - around 2,000 lives as I recall - it will literally pay for itself every year in terms of the salary costs it will save by reduction of sickness absence. Given that most companies won't have 2,000 employees we simply need to look at the various products and options out there and consider what the companies problem/historic approach to absence has been and use the above tools in an integrated way to provide solutions.

This is the kind of work I am undertaking with my clients every day of the week and they range in size from 2 man small companies up to corporates with hundreds of employees on cover - each client needs a bespoke approach and an honest appraisal of how to meet their wellness strategy and of course in some cases my assistance to actually design one in the first place !

If you are interested in have an initial discussion and for more information and a free review of your companies health call : 07792 075748 or e-mail : philknight@pch.uk.com

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Brexit

So we are going to blow the explosive bolts along the South Coast, East Anglia and Channel Tunnel and float off into the North Atlantic.

After one of the most bad blooded and frankly incomprehensible political fights we have allowed the lowest common denominator in British society (those who incidentally won't be paying tax anyway - pensioners and layabouts, the true little Englanders) to out vote the ones who took the time to look over the political and economic implications and decided that the status quo was slightly better than another 8 to 10 years of financial turmoil.

Good news is though that there are about to be a lot more jobs picking fruit, serving in pizza shops and the sex trade. Glad I had some positive information to pass out to my ten and sixteen year old son and daughter.

This vote is totally unbelievable and in effect nearly half of the population have been disenfranchised (after all we can't ever vote to go back in now) and it is our kids generation that will suffer not us.

The implications are completely unknown but it is very likely that we will have at least a year of tumbling financial markets which loath uncertainty.


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The saga of my kitchen never ends and the perils of eBay

It seems as if the saga that is my kitchen renovation will never end. As it stands a part of the kitchen 'fell off' (literally) a couple of weeks ago and the fitter still hasn't returned to fix it. In addition the electrical work is not finished insofar as we still need a safety certificate following the installation of a new circuit box but the gentleman was due to arrive on Saturday last week and didn't turn up so we're basically waiting for the final couple of things to be finished. Frustrating but not too much of an issue - still haven't paid the fitter 50% of his fee so the ball is in his court.

The story doesn't finish there though. At the end of May I finally sold my 2 year old Samsung Fridge Freezer on eBay - it took five or six auctions before it finally went and it was collected two days after the buyer won the auction.

This buyer had been a bit of a presence around all of the previous auctions. He'd never actually bid until the final auction and each time it failed to sell he contacted me via eBay messaging with questions about the item and offers below the starting price. On each of three occasions I told him that he should bid if he wanted the item. Eventually he did, reluctantly though I suspect.

On the day of collection (28/5/16) the buyer turned up unannounced at my home (he had arranged for a removals company to pick it up in the evening) in the afternoon. Fortunately I was in and as luck would have it in the garage emptying my own items from the fridge - I'd had cheese, milk, sauces etc in the thing as it had functioned as my main fridge in the garage all through the kitchen refit and that weekend (this was a Saturday) the fitters were in again doing some work so I couldn't get into the kitchen and I'd been in and out to the fridge all day including emptying the ice maker which I'd turned on accidentally dusting it the day before for the collection.

He insisted on inspecting the fridge and was quite surly but I didn't object - he'd already paid the fee on Paypal so I just wanted the thing away. He went off and later the removal company turned up and took the fridge freezer.

Fast forward to last Friday the 17th of June (21 days later) I receive a message from eBay telling me that the buyer is demanding to return the item as it was 'not as described'.

Basically he's saying that immediately on plugging it in it blew his circuit breaker every hour or two and that having spent over £ 240 putting in a separate circuit onto his board it still doesn't work.

My problem is this. I know the thing was working and had worked unbroken until the moment I unplugged it at my house for his movers to take it. So I replied and pointed this out. I suggested that given it had not worked from day one he should have contacted me earlier, before undertaking work for additional cost which I did not agree to and he also should have spoken to his removers because the scenario he outlined sounds very much like it was damaged in transit.

His subsequent replies have now veered into the realms of name calling. Thus far I am a liar, immature and he does not like my tone. It seems that defending your own corner is now something to be mocked. He is of course refusing to even speak to his removal company, won't say why he waited three weeks to contact me and has created a fantasy in which complex, unboxed electrical items are invulnerable to damage in transit.

In addition to turning up uninvited at my home (a breach of eBay seller etiquette if not their actual rules) he has begun name calling and also making threats to go out-with the eBay procedures. In fact I have now told him twice that I am happy to abide by the eBay resolution process. One assumes they have robust procedures in place for just this eventuality. One suspects, given his behaviour that the reason he is yet to raise a complaint via eBay is that he doesn't have much of a case and thinks intimidating me is a better tactic.

Little does he know the futility.

In our last exchange he threatened to report me to eBay (which of course I have been encouraging him to do since last Friday) but he gave me a deadline that is actually some time before the deadline given by eBay to resolve the matter between us before they can intervene. Given the level of discourse from him has dropped to threats and name calling I've had to report his conduct to eBay myself. Whether I ultimately end up 'winning' this dispute is to an extent irrelevant. I'm not prepared to be intimidated by an irrational and unprofessional bully in anyway shape or form.

Unfortunately the 'not as described' claim is a well know fiddle on eBay to get out of paying for an item and of course this guy is now also trying to get me to pay for additional repairs and his other costs - all incurred (based on his version of events) without any go ahead from myself. At the moment my Pay Pal account sits in debit (they take the money straight out of the amount pending resolution of the initial return request) so I cannot use eBay or Pay Pal and of course I no longer have my item or any hope of getting it back without incurring enormous cost especially as his movers managed to break it.

Frankly though I am quite enjoying winding him up. In my experience he's the classic bully and he hates me standing up to him.

Will update as we progress. His deadline for reply was the 23rd of June but I will be waiting until one minute to midnight on the actual deadline eBay cited, why ? Because I can.

Update - 24th of June.

I've now replied to my buyer and so far he hasn't, as I've requested three times in writing, set up an eBay resolution claim.

Earlier in the week I was forced to report him to eBay for asking me to circumvent their rules and turning up uninvited at my home.

As he hasn't bothered, for some reason, to start a resolution claim I've actually had to do it myself to ask eBay to step in. It's really quite bizarre that he's raised an issue, refused to try and sort things out with either me (in a realistic fashion) or with his removals company and now I've been forced to set up the claim with eBay myself. I'm pretty sure from reading about 'not as described' claims on line that the process is stacked against the seller but hopefully his silly position and name calling will go against him.

Monday, 13 June 2016

A post about my friend

I wrote this blog post some weeks ago, in happier times before Jasper passed. This is a sad blog post to write and upload but I wrote it in advance of his passing as a kind of eulogy and knew that following his death I just would not be able to put into words my thoughts. I hope it will serve to celebrate him and the times we shared and in the future be a reminder if his fun and vivacity.

"Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality"
Emily Dickinson

My dog died today.

He was 11 years old, the second Cavalier King Charles spaniel we've had. He was born in March 2005 when my wife was pregnant with our son, now nearly 11 and we can still clearly remember bringing him home in a card board box with a towel in the bottom and then sitting with him for hours on our kitchen floor whilst he settled in.

He'd just woken up, was not deformed !

Although all the animals are my wife's, Jasper always seemed to be 'my dog'. He always wanted to know where I was at any point, even towards the end when he got a bit unstable on his paws and he usually waited on the door mat in the hall way waiting for me when I went out shopping at the weekend regardless of whatever anyone else in the house was doing.


He loved food, we always knew when he was poorly because he stopped eating. That was rare though because, with one or two exceptions although he had lots 'wrong' with him he was overall a healthy and vivacious dog.
He did love food !

We used to joke, especially when he was young that he was at least as intelligent as a person and sometimes looking at how he watched you and reacted to conversation I wouldn't be surprised if behind that handsome face he was, in a nice way, plotting doggy world domination.

Poised for action ...

As I mentioned above, Jasper was a healthy and happy dog. Not sure why but when he was a puppy we used to call him the Rangy Baby Jesus - that kind of stuck as he was never a fat Cavalier but always rangy and kind of athletic. He had a heart murmur from a relatively young age but this is common in Cavaliers and in no way caused problems, he also had syringomyelia a brain condition again common the breed which caused him every now and then to freak out and scratch but had no major health impacts.
 Last year he began coughing a little on an evening and this was a deterioration of the heart condition but was treated with meds and he came right back to normal. Over Winter 2014 and then Summer 2015, as a family we had some of our best, longest dog walks with Jasper and our other dog : Muffin in the local woods and really explored our local area through having our dogs. It could be seen as a bit of a cliche but they were great times and I am going to miss sharing them with him and of course the rest of my family.
Post eye problems

When we returned home from holiday in August last year Jasp developed an eye problem which deteriorated very quickly and one evening in late August his left eye literally burst and he had to have emergency surgery to remove the damaged eye and was left after several weeks of convalescence with a cuter face but only one eye. We quickly discovered though that his remaining eye had very limited sight. As a clever creature though he has been able to adapt to limited sight and has total recall of where everything is in the house, garden and on our regular walks.

We were staggered at how well he overcame the eye problem given his age and heart condition but then we hit another setback, no sooner was he over the eye and back to his normal self when he became very poorly with pancreatitis, a nasty gastric problem and came close to dying. With intensive treatment and a continuous vet food low fat diet he overcame not one but two serious bouts of this condition.

That was over Christmas 2015 and then again January of 2016.

Unfortunately the heart condition, eye and then pancreatitis have just taken their toll and his heart condition ramped up in mid March. We literally battled to save him, increasing medication to the absolute maximum and even a bit beyond to eke out a few more weeks for him because right til the end he was happy, eager to eat and walk and spend time with us. Over the last few weeks he couldn't be left alone because any noise outside would set him off barking and that stressed his heart and his breathing became harder.
With us on one of his favourite walks

In the end, we had to make the determination that all pet owners dread from the day they bring home their new family friend to the very second it happens and decided that it was us being selfish to make him suffer the difficult breathing problems that would only get worse and more uncomfortable for him any longer.

We all know what happened next. I will not suffer those last few moments again but suffice to say that I was with my friend for his last moments and am glad to have been able to see our friendship through to its bittersweet end.

I am an atheist so think there is no infinite green field for him to run through but perhaps there should be. Whatever happens afterwards, my friend will run through my happy dreams with me forever. 

"The song is ended but the melody lingers on ...."
Irving Berlin 

_________

Jasper Nathaniel Knight - Catamaran Sweet Fudge - March 2005 to May 2016

Woof !

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Brand new iMac, sort of ....

In April 2014 I got so sick of the slow down on my 2009 iMac that I finally snapped and spent £ 1600 buying a replacement. I'm typing on my current Mac and even after over two year it is still blisteringly fast has almost no issues and I see the spinning beach ball perhaps once or twice a week.

I do still use the iMac which sits on my desk behind the MacBook but mainly for light browsing and Netflix plus I won't install MS Word or Excel on my MacBook so I occasionally have to fire up a spreadsheet every now and then.

Last week though I was sat messing about with the iMac's settings and found a screen in 'About this Mac' that showed the iMac had four slots for RAM and two of the four were empty - at the moment it had 2 x 2GB of RAM on-board. Some basic research later and I discovered that I'd probably wasted my £ 1600 and new RAM could just be inserted into the old machine to improve it's performance.

Long story short I wanted to see what effect boosting the RAM might have. I bought 2 x 4GB of RAM from Crucial (for £ 36 !) and installed at the end of last week. Having gone from 4GB to 12GB very cheaply and with a very easy install it literally is like a new machine. Whilst not as quick as the MacBook it's still far faster than anything else we have in the house and i've been rocking it all week. Problem is though that my MacBook is still faster and cooler. I was thinking about upgrading to a new iMac though and to be honest I just don't need to bother at the moment - both machines are much faster than current entry level models anyway.