Last Friday we took Hobbes, Bethan’s Springer spaniel of high breeding but low behaviour, back to the specialist vet centre for what we prayed was his final visit. He had long ago consumed his insurance threshold with the same ease that he seemed to destroy his cruciate ligament. His extremely dodgy knee was finally on the mend and we sat in the waiting room hopeful of an end to the process. While we waited in the opulent surroundings we were entertained with a rolling film of the products and services that the centre provided, shown on several large, flat screen television screens. We were wined and dined with free coffee, cappuccino, mocha, espresso, hot chocolate and teas of every flavour, offered with plates laden with exotic biscuits. There were latest editions in the magazine rack of every major publication from the repugnant Hello! through to the far more interesting Farmer’s Weekly. The seats were more comfortable than our sofas at home and I could well have settled in for a pleasant hour except for two things. One was that Hobbes’ lead was secured to my leg and his continued violent attempts to escape was in danger of destroying my own cruciate ligament. The second was that as I cast my eye around the waiting room I was painfully aware of what was driving the vet bills through the roof. The roof that was as yet unpainted but I feel confident was shortly to rival the Sistine Chapel in an effort to spend the huge cash pile that the practice must be accumulating. Just as I was trying to re-align my dislocated hip we were called through to one of the many treatment rooms. The next half an hour was spent in the company of an extremely pleasant intern whose bedside manner could not be faulted. He was a fully qualified vet but not the cruciate ligament specialist and so was in effect acting as a glorified receptionist. Next on the scene was Hobbes’ surgeon and his veterinary nurse. After more consultation and knee feeling, all five of us proceeded to the exercise area to see Hobbes in motion. Five people, three of whom we were handsomely paying watching one knee! The conclusion was very satisfactory but as poor Bethan handed over another considerable chunk of her public sector salary, I did wonder was it all worth it? Of course it is worth it to get Hobbes back to full fitness but was all the periphery justified. Could we have done without coffee, fewer biscuits, last weeks’ magazines and no film show? It was a great result but not great value for money. I cannot and will not name the practice as God forbid we may have to go back but its strategy is so similar to the hearing aid practice that position themselves as the premium providers, and therefore diametrically opposite to HearingDirect. I am not suggesting that one could provide a knee operation online but let’s not be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of an opulent waiting room. HearingDirect’s waiting room is your bedroom, your study or your sitting room. Tea and coffee of your choice are available in your kitchen. Magazines can be purchased from your local newsagent, and if you need to watch television you can at least choose your own channel. I hope that we offer everything that you may need. We provide hearing aids, amplified phones, alerting devices, accessories, tinnitus devices and a plethora of useful items. I hope we don’t offer anything you may not need and I hope you can see that we spend your money on value for money products and services.