The Money Shot – June 8th 2012

Covered mag, presented by Gocompare.com
  • | by Sean Davies

DENTIST BILLS DRILL DEEP

Everyone loves a trip to the dentist. The dusty waiting room with its whiff of formaldehyde. The 10-year-old magazines you’ve never heard of. Striking up conversations with fellow victims who can only dribble over you through needle-numbed mouths.

Then there’s the surgery. The funny drink that looks like squash but really isn’t. Wondering whether there’s actual cocaine in the anaesthetic. Factoring that into the big, pain-numbing decision – gas or injection? Finally, my personal favourite, the under-anaesthetic hallucinations – a source of childhood terror long before Hollywood ever dreamed up Freddy Krueger.

None of that has ever put me off my regular 10-yearly trip to the dentist. But the BBC’s Money Box  show this week revealed that NHS patients have had their newly serviced jaws dropped to the ground by fines that totalled over £1m last year. Individual £100 charges have been levied on people who applied for, and received, free dental treatment when they were not eligible.

Fair enough, you might think, but that’s only because the patients said they were on jobseeker’s allowance when they should have specified to their dentist that they were receiving contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance. What’s more, £100 fines have also been levied on patients claiming for sight tests at opticians. The Primary Care Trust told Money Box that it’s “common knowledge” that you can’t claim for more than one test in a two-year period. As a fully paid-up member of the four-eyes club, I can only say that I didn’t see the small print.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Pensions gender gap is narrowing.”

It’s the headline that’s been doing the rounds following a survey conducted by the Prudential. Good news at last in a pensions sector that’s been hard hit by the economic downturn? Well, sadly not… Women’s incomes aren’t rising, men’s are falling. I’m loving the positive spin on the headline, though.

WHAT HAVE THE GREEKS EVER DONE FOR US?

So John Cleese may have mused, if he’d ever done a prequel to “Life of Brian”. While Spain has been grabbing the headlines this week, unemployment in Greece has soared, prompting more uncertainty ahead of their new elections and the possibility that they will beat the Iberians in a potential rush to leave the Eurozone.

Trying to forget the present-day woes, the BBC turned to those wise old ancient Greeks for a solution to the debt crisis, considering whether the likes of Solon, Pythagoras, Odysseus, Socrates or Archimedes had the answer.

I’d like to throw another, more topical name into the mix, the Titan Prometheus. Long before Ridley Scott got hold of him for the Alien prequel, he was busy creating the human race from clay. Prometheus was known for his intelligence and championing of mankind, surely an ideal model for the new Greek leadership. But, as a reward for his meddling, Zeus bound Prometheus to a rock where an eagle would consume the immortal’s liver on a daily basis. Is that the sound of Angela Merkel scratching down notes?

NEWS IN BRIEF

Not just any bank… High-street stalwart Marks & Spencer is dipping into the banking industry with a new service backed by HSBC.

Good news all round as Clinton Cards was sold to US firm American Greetings. Not only have 4,500 jobs been saved, I’ve had a timely reminder that it’s Father’s Day next week.

The government’s looking for you to invest your savings in order to boost UK growth and pay for infrastructure projects.

Early June saw balmy Britain slide into a bedraggled four days of Jubilee celebrations, prompting news editors to rehash the line beloved by workers throughout the land – should bank holidays be cut in order to boost the economy? Or do they give a valuable boost to retailers? I turned to my left for the esteemed opinion of Gocompare.com news editor and Money Shot-maestro Kristian Dando. But he was on holiday. Normal service will be resumed next week…

ON GOCOMPARE.COM NEWS THIS WEEK

The sun’s gone walkabout and the brown stuff (I think it’s mud) is oozing up through the flip-flops… It’s festival time, and Rachel England tells us how to let go without loosening the purse strings.

Van drivers – the kings of the road and of all they survey. But even these demigods had to learn their steering skills somewhere…

Dave Jenkins explains how to transcend from ‘(wo)man’ to ‘(wo)man with a van’.

Charity begins at home - our news home page, where Rachel England shows you how to make your charity fundraising stand out, and how to make your sponsors stump up.

AND FINALLY

Euro 2012 kicks off on Friday, and it’s a given that the cream of the continent’s footballers will have been honing their goal celebrations in readiness for the big stage.

It’s a practice that’s always jarred with me, given my irrational phobia over successfully completing the simplest of high fives. I turned to rugby, a game where you could score the greatest try of all time, then run all the way back to halfway before having to accept the most disinterested of handshakes from one of your team-mates.

But this sporting haven for the criminally un-coordinated has come under threat since the game turned professional, with superstar players waxing their legs, wearing fake tan and even looking happy when they score. If proof were needed that rugby just isn’t cut out for that sort of thing, witness Scotland’s celebration after their shock win over Australia.

The victory was almost immediately consigned to Twitter-verse history as, in the post-match celebrations, Joe Ansbro managed a flying head-butt dive straight into the bare bonce of the equally airborne Alasdair Strokosch. “Apparently, I split him to the bone,” said Strokosch, who concluded with an admirable call for rugby to return to its core values. “I have officially retired from any form of smiling or celebrating”.

Join us for another thrilling instalment of THE MONEY SHOT. In the meantime, why not email the editor with your letters. If we print them, you could receive a prized Gocompare.com stationery set and an autographed picture of Gio Compario, star of our award- winning* ad campaign. Three are up for grabs every week. (Promoter: Gocompare.com Ltd) *Marketing magazine’s ‘Most Irritating Advert’ 2009/2010