As I was putting away my wallet a few minutes ago, I noticed that my European Health Insurance Card had expired at the end of November. That’s the plastic card that you can use to get reciprocal health services in the EU and a few other countries. Actually, I remember getting a reminder — in about June — and I knew there was a way to apply for a new card on line.
A quick Internet search was headed by two of Gooogle’s “Sponsored Links”. One of them was www·ehic·uk·com, which looked a bit suspicious, and definitely not official, not being a uk domain, and having the com ending for a commercial organisation; and the other, www·ehic·org, again not uk, although by its address it ought to be a non-commercial one.
But actually, both addresses belong to scumsucking bastards, out to fleece the public. (The first is a company called Imap (UK) Limited, based in Bolton; and the second is Portcreek from Gosport.) Oh yes, you can fill in a form on-line and request a new EHIC on both sites, but you can only submit it on payment of £9.95 – BASTARDS! Because if you go to the NHS’s own site, you can fill in exactly the same information and submit it for free.
(That’s https://www.ehic.org.uk/ if you’ve come here by Internet search yourself. (Poor choice of domain name as well, since it really is an official government website. If you prefer, there’s a link to it on http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/TravellingAbroad/BeforeYouTravel/DG_4019496 ))
There are other ways to get a new card, such as by phone on 0845 606 2030, or by picking up a form at the Post Office. The Post Office have a service where they will check your form and submit it, but that only costs £1.95 including the postage. I could imagine that the elderly and bewildered might find that useful; and the cost isn’t too high. Clearly not bastards.
I was just thinking recently that I don’t particularly object to Gooogle’s “Sponsored Links” at the top, or the list of ads down the right-hand side, because they aren’t too intrusive. Generally useless, because any time I’ve actually been wanting to buy something, and clicked on the advertising links, it’s NEVER taken me to a page where the product I searched for is available to buy. But not worth the effort to screen them out with Adblock or Greasemonkey.
This time though, there’s an actual scam going on. (Portcreek at least have a link somewhere on their site to the free NHS one, which makes them slightly less scumsucking than the other bastards.) It’s not illegal, I’m sure, because the companies can claim that they’re offering the “service” of validating the data for the customer before submitting it. But the NHS site does that anyway. Did I mention it’s free as well?
Oh, and did I mention that Google’s official, unofficial motto is “Don’t Be Evil”?