Interview Etiquette: The Care Edition

Wednesday 17 February, 2016

I’m one of the many disenfranchised disabled people who’ve been left with no option but to employ a personal assistant/support worker directly through direct payments, because the care companies are not good enough or sticking to the high quality of care, including consistency, that they promise to their “clients”. The company I left the first one for was such a shambolic affair that I would suggest they change their name from “Your Life, Your Way”, to “Your Life, Every Way But Your Way, And Good Luck Hearing Back From Us Within A Week Even When It’s Urgent”. I would even organise a whip around to help pay for the name change costs.

It’s not easy going fully independent. There is paperwork, there is tax, there is insurance. There is the ever looming fact that it’s all on you if something goes wrong (Holy responsibilities, batman!), and if you’re not a confrontational person, you might find yourself wanting to dig a hole under your bed and hiding there if an issue does come up. But I was left with no choice, and I find myself, for the second time in less than 6 months, on a search for someone to employ.

I understand how the job centre works. I know because at a point in history I was subjected to Remploy’s practices, and currently have relatives under the power of Ian Duncan Smith’s misery-inducing regime. Advisers tell you to apply for all jobs, every job, or you will be sanctioned, so help you God. They tell you to ignore the stipulation for driver’s licences, levels of experience wanted, specified genders wanted, qualifications required, and sometimes they demand you apply for places you know can’t cater for your disability, all under the threat of Sanctions for non-compliance. I do understand all of that, and the job centre have to understand that it’s affecting employers as well, but alas, they don’t care in any direction.

But I do. And I, an honest understanding person, want people to be more honest and up front with independent, private household employers looking for Personal Assistant/Support Workers/Carers. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it’s better for us to know right from the off rather than go through the motions of believing you want the job just as much as we want applicants. I’ve now had two lots of experience trying to find someone. The first time, I can’t remember how many people applied overall in the end, but on the first day of interviews, nobody turned up. Myself, my mum (of ill health herself) and my friend were in a little office for a good portion of the day, waiting for all the people who had confirmed their interview slots to turn up, and none of them turned up. The second interview day, out of 6 people who had confirmed, only 3 people turned up. I was lucky that amongst those 3, there was one great applicant worth hiring. But, over all, I was disappointed with the process on many levels. This second time, I had 9 people apply and confirm for interviews spread over two days, and only one person turned up.

So, I’m going to give people a list of What To Do/What Not To Do when you’re looking at adverts for a care job, based on experience I had with Applicants.

1) Either turn up or cancel. Don’t just not turn up, it’s rude. It waste’s people’s time and it kills any chance for a last minute offering to another person who might take the interview slot.

2) If you know you no longer want the job, even within 24 hours of the interview, let the employer know so that, again, they can try and offer the slot to someone else.

3) If you don’t actually want the job, because you’ve been made to apply for it, say so.

One applicant confirmed their slot but then needed a different time. It wasn’t possible on that first day, but I said I’d get back to them about the second interview day when I knew the time and date for it. I emailed them with the new details, and I heard nothing back. Just to double check, I gave them a call a few days later and asked if they were still interested in the job. They said they were. I said that I’d emailed them with another interview offer but heard nothing back. They said that they’d been so busy, they hadn’t had time to check their emails. I understood, because that’s happened to me too. They said yes to the time of the interview, they thanked me for calling them and letting them know about another slot, and they looked forward to meeting me.

They didn’t turn up.

4) Read the advert carefully. Also, consider what’s in the advert as well as what might be between the lines. Ask yourself if all elements are something you would be able to do. Think of the real demands of care, it’s not all shopping trips and making cups of tea.

Universal Jobmatch has a personal details safeguarding system where someone will ring you up to change the wording of your advert if you’ve put too many personal details or you’ve used exclusionary terms in your advert – They have restrictions on specifications, due to equality laws. I am not allowed to discriminate on any basis whatsoever. There are exemptions – i’m allowed to specify female carer – but there’s not many other exemptions allowed.

Sometimes the full role, the full expectations, even the times the job takes place aren’t allowed to be included, because of vulnerable adult safeguarding. And with UJ, I don’t think there’s a system that allows you to ask for more details. You, as a Jobseeker just apply and hope for an interview. Maybe you could use the email or the phone call from the potential employer to ask for more details, before an interview is confirmed and you find out there that the job is not something you can do, for whatever reason.

I’m talking about two experiences I had, and I’m trying not to get too specific, in order to save any potential hurt feelings. But basically, one experience was that I had at least two people misunderstood the advert, or misread the advert. My advert spoke about helping me, an individual disabled young adult, but both of these people assumed they’d be working as part of a team and caring for the elderly.

The other experience is that, although I’m not allowed to discriminate, people with their own mobility problems also applied and it was clear they didn’t realise how physically demanding a job it can be. I don’t need lifting and handling, but there is walking on their part, manual wheelchair pushing, steep slopes, a lot of standing up, and probably other micro-necessities that I can’t think of right now, that you really only notice when you can’t do them. I’m talking from experience of being on the other side. It’s one thing to ask someone to pass you something, it’s another thing to reach up, grip an item, hold and carry the item, pass it over… and then do that all again in reverse when they’ve read the ingredients on the back and realised they’re allergic to it.

For the most part, the lack of disabled people in work places, in various industries, lifestyles, is a lack of effort by the employers. But physically assisting a fellow physically disabled person is not one of those jobs that can really be catered for, and that is something I learnt years ago in my more mobile days, from assisting my friends less physically mobile than myself, to the detriment of my own health. It takes compromise for that to work, for both people to be happy, and quite frankly, to me it’s a compromise enough employing people to depend on. I had just had a PA from YLYW who had her own disability, and though we muddled on, it made planning things difficult. Can we get to this train station in time to get to this place or home in time? Will she be able to carry this today? If the weather’s bad, where will we go, because she can’t push manual wheelchairs up steep slopes and my electric wheelchair doesn’t do bad weather?

Selfish as it may sound, when you only have a guaranteed four hours a week to leave the house, you want to make the most of them, and you need to be sure the person with you is 100% up to the job. I’m not able to offer trial shifts, I have to go with my feelings during the interview.

6) Ask yourself if a permanent, long term care job is something you really want to go for when you know you’ll be leaving in less than a year.

This is a job with a three month probation period to work out kinks in the system and talk through any prospective problems that may pop up. It’s a job where you get to know each other, you get used to each other, and though you might not be friends (Mostly not recommended, though on one occasion it has worked out wonderfully, and not to get too sappy here, but she has kept my spirits up during this whole debacle), you will become a significant part of your employer’s life. You might leave your job at the doorway, but an employer in this capacity is a disabled person who will depend on your consistency, care, empathy and professionalism. Availability is a commodity worth it’s weight in gold, yet we all know the pay is pennies thanks to the government.

It’s understandable that you have better plans for the future, but your employer might need to depend on people for the rest of their life, and people coming in and out of their life every 6 months can be upsetting and unsettling. This isn’t a holiday job. If you’re after a temporary job, go for a temporary job or an agency job, because god knows nobody expects consistency with agencies. If not for nothing else, think of how big a pain in the arse it is to go through finding a new PA, and dealing with the lack of care package facilitated in the interim, every 6 months when their employee leaves cos the better job they had lined up, because of uni, because of whatever comes up.

7) Follow what the advert asks of you. If the advert asks for CV, apply with a CV. You’re not going to impress anyone with a request for an interview if you’ve ignored what the advert asks of you. Especially when it’s a job where you’ll be doing a lot of what the employer asks of you. You’ve basically failed test number 1.

I’ve had a few applicants say that they don’t know how to send a CV. And whilst that’s something I can believe, because not everyone is computer literate, there is an “Upload file” button right above the message block with the extra information of “Use this to send your CV”. If you really can’t upload your CV for whatever reason, you need to offer an alternative. Copy and paste it into the body of the message, or link to another site which does host your CV.

Just evading the request won’t get you anywhere with anyone who is trying to protect themselves from bad applicants, you’ve made yourself look questionable and you’ve caused yourself to blacklisted.

People wonder how so much negligence happens in care homes and care companies, and it’s because people aren’t properly vetted. Private, independent employers like me can’t do much, but faith in a CV and follow up references are one way. I think some people scoff at my over-professional tone and my fastidious nature when I go into Employer mode, but I’m not just going to give the job to someone who sends me a message in text talk promising me they’ve got the experience. Where’s the proof? It’s my health and safety in your hands, here. Give me something I can work with.

8) Ask questions and be honest. One bad piece of advice I was given before the first round of interviews was to tell the applicants what I wanted from them, under the misguided belief that if the applicant doesn’t feel up to the job, they will say so there and then and maybe end the interview early. It didn’t work, they all smiled and nodded. I could tell they just told me what I wanted to hear, what they thought would get them the job.

Think this through. You’ve just been told that hours could change, with advance notice but still, calls could be cancelled at short notice, and that you will have to call in sick if you have so much as a cold and risk losing your pay. You’ve also just been told that part of your job will be to play bodyguard when an angry parent with a buggy wants to fight to the death for the wheelchair space, but understandably your potential employer won’t let up and sit by the doors because it’s a Wheelchair space. At what point do you want to have the conversation where you say you don’t think this job’s for you after all? In the interview where it dawns on you, or, say, afterwards when they hire you? After your first week? First month? After your pay is less than it should be because you had to call in sick to save your employer from catching it and suffering from it worse?

Private, independent employers looking for PAs aren’t going to go back to the jobcentre and complain about you. Not if you actually turn up. We’re too busy trying to seift through the unsuitable applicants that we’d much rather complain about (Female applicants only means Female Applicants Only, Local area means anything north of Southport is a ridiculous distance for you to be travelling) and deal with finding new applicants when the people we had hopes for didn’t turn up. Also, I think we’re all far too decent and understanding for it. We’re suffering under the same heartless bunch of scumbags. As you’re being forced to adhere to a heartless regime, we’re having our benefits and carepackages skimmed to the minimum and waiting to be forced under the same regime ourselves.

My last piece of advice is possibly the absolute most important one. You might like to write this one down so you remember it forever.

9) Do not get your potential employer’s phone number mixed up with your ex’s, and subsequently, absolutely do not leave threatening messages on their answering machines believing you’re leaving them for your ex. Best to just not leave threatening messages to anyone at all, really.

Admittedly I can’t prove it was them because they blocked their number, but I’m a big believer in Occam’s Razor, and I’ve got great voice recognition skills.


How To Get The Best Out Of Your LoveFilm Experience – Take 2

Thursday 29 December, 2011

I originally wrote an entry about how you can Maximise Your LoveFilm Experience back in September, with the idea of writing a second entry to expand on what I’d said at a later date, but a couple of months after I wrote that entry, LoveFilm changed things around a bit and made some of what I said retroactively inaccurate and pointless. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to combine the expansion with an updated, currently more relevant, improved version of the previous entry

(You don’t need to read the old entry, I’ll be repeating the still accurate and relevant details here, probably word for word.)

~~~
The original entry was brought to you by my Good Friend pointing out that my assisting him with his LoveFilming should be turned into a blog entry.

So here we are!

I am a LoveFilm user. I’ve been a member since August 2010, courtesy of my aforementioned Good Friend, who has been a member for at least two years before me. Which is why it was quite surprising for me to be giving him pointers on Maximising The Experience and not the other way around.

First of all, you need to be a proper DVD/Game buff to get your moneys worth. As advertised, you can get a basic service for the minimum of £4.99, but that only allows you to get one DVD at a time and a limit of two DVDs a month, and there’s No Online Viewing Time at all. The more up the price ladder you go, the service vs money spent evens out for you. Think of your average price of a Movie or a Boxset, plus P+P, and then compare it to the subscription fee. If you’re looking to get the latest releases but run the risk of your list always being at 10 Titles or less, this service won’t be for you. There is also an issue of Copyright/Renting Laws that I won’t go in to right now.

The service I originally signed up for was the Full Whack one costing £16.99 a month. I could have 3 DVDs out at a time, and an Unlimited amount of them per month. That service also gave me an Unlimited Online Viewing and access to many free films to watch Online.

With the other, lesser packages, you get a limit on the amount of films (and games) you have out at a time, and a maximum amount of films/games you can have per month. You also have access to less free films on the Online Viewing service, as well as a maximum time limit, measured by Minutes, to watch a film online. A bit like a PAYG Phone Tarriff.

The service I have now, I believe, is the Full Whack One +Loyalty Extras. All parts of the Full Whack Services apply, but with what I’ve come to believe is a Loyalty Extras Scheme, I can have Four Discs out at a time instead of the standard three. This means I can now get through a maximum of 12 Discs a week if the Returns/Sending Out system and Postal Service runs smoothly.

I will talk about what could happen when these doesn’t work smoothly a little bit later.

There’s not really a downside to being a part of the Loyalty Scheme, if infact that is what it is, but I have noticed that those who now have four discs instead of three are no longer entitled to Free Extra Disc Tokens. These are things that are part of LoveFilms FilmExtra scheme, which I’ll go into a bit later.

Due to the fact that I’m just a film buff and not much of a console gamer, I won’t be going into the Games side of it. With me never using those services, I don’t have experience with them, or any reason to look into them, to have any opinions or suggestions. All I can say about it is that, for anyone as out of the loop as I am, you can rent games from them for the following consoles: PS3, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, Xbox, Wii, DS, and Gamecube. For further information, you will have to google it.

So, now we’ve established what account makes the service worth it and the best kind of customer for such a service, lets move on to the service itself.

There is no point filling your list with films you don’t want to see or be sent just for the sake of buffing up your title list so that you’re not sent annoying messages telling you that your list is low. That is why you need to be quite the TV/Movie fanatic. Prioritising does work, but it’s not perfect. To date. I’ve only ever been sent “low” priorities three times, but it can and does happen without the influencing circumstances that befell me:

Once was when I had a short list of about 15 Titles and most of them were either “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, the second time was when I’d entered a competition. (I will talk about Competitions a bit later). The third time was recently, just before Christmas. I had a Total of five titles on my High Priorities and the rest on medium or low. In the “low” priority list was a Christmas film. The only Christmas-related film on my list. I’m thinking that they had a system where Christmas films were sent out, regardless of priority, to watch at the appropriate time of around Christmas.

Unfortunately for them, or maybe just me, I had no intention of watching that film at or around Christmas Time and was waiting for a less-appropriate time in the future to watch it. I’ll consider it a lesson learnt.

Which brings me on to my next point. To make sure you can influence the discs LoveFilm send you so much so that you’re mostly in control of what you get, use Lists wisely. Separate different Genres/Themes/Mediums if need be and then prioritise within those Lists.

For example, I’ve made sure all films are in a Films List, and the ones that I really want to see as soon as possible are Maximum Priority. I have a Selected Television Series list so that I can make my way through a TV Series one by one. Sequels to Films and other Television series waiting to be watched after the current one are in a “To Be Organised” list. I also have a Documentaries list. On the Edit Lists page, Disc symbols symbolise the amount of discs you should get from each list. I have two on the Selected Television Series, One on Film and the remaining one on Documentaries. You can have 10 Lists on the go at a time.
When lists get to Ten or Less Titles, you will be alerted as such and told to add more. Sometimes, due to high demand, short stock of certain titles, and/or some other variable, LoveFilm will make the executive decision to send out a title from another list or a title of a lower priority and they do their best not to go out of order on grouped series. If anything happens where they do go out of order, though, send them an email letting them know. They’ll tell you whether you should return the disc or what they can try and do to correct it for you.

There is a Subscription option where you can get five Titles at a time, with a total of ten discs total a month. It also comes with a maximum of 10 Hours of Online Viewing Time. I’m guessing that would work quite similar to my system, if you wanted to get more discs from your lists at a time, but the total of 10 Titles a month for £17.99 might not be worth it when you can get that many +more in the same time frame with the Full Whack £16.99 subscription.

Some good methods of always keeping your Lists above the minimum amount, apart from being a constant film buff, is cataloguing. Don’t know what that is? That’s ok, I think it’s something that I made up a few years ago.

It’s where you choose an actor or a director that you’ve liked the work of, and you rent their whole catalogue of films and TV shows they’ve ever been in/worked on. That gets you, on average, a good 10 films, and maybe two complete TV Series as well. Even if they’re just in one episode. Obviously if you know you won’t like the film or have already seen it, don’t add it; But it can be a great way to expand your viewing horizons, it gives you a reason to see films or shows you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

I mentioned this to my Good Friend and he liked the idea, and then came up with a good idea himself. Get your friend, who may or may not have different tastes to you, to list all the films they hate and add all the ones you haven’t seen yet/don’t know whether you’ll like or not to your list.

Or if you do have similar tastes, ask a friend to list their top rated films and add those instead. Unless you’ve seen them, that is.

When there is a “Long Wait” or “Short Wait” on some Titles, I find it best to rejiggle the priorities around so that they’re medium or low priority, so that you have a higher choice of getting something Top Priority, instead of them potentially bypassing the next disc and choosing something you didn’t want to see just yet, or had better things to watch right then. As soon as they’re no longer classed as “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, you can re-prioritise them to their previous position on the list.

Sometimes, things don’t go as well as they should. Sometimes it’s the Postal Service’s fault; post is sometimes delayed and some discs have been known to “go missing”, but when it’s LoveFilm’s fault, let them know. If there’s a faulty disc, it’s easy to report it and get a replacement. Depending on how your lists are set up and what list your disc is from, you might even get a second Disc along with the replacement. All you have to do is return the one that doesn’t work.

I’ll be honest, in all of the time I’ve been using LoveFilm, I’ve had to report a lot of discs as faulty, but their extra discs on replacement and prompt responses of Customer Service make up for it. What you have to remember is a LOT of people use LoveFilm, some discs will be worn from over play and some will be scratched by careless people. The same can go for any rental service.

Something I referred to earlier was that LoveFilm sometimes do competitions. Sometimes they’re to win merchandise, or free cinema tickets, or even a free subscription to LoveFilm. The prize more often than not, though, is an Extra Film Credit Token for their FilmExtra scheme. And most of the time, you get one just for participating.

Due to the rejiggle of accounts, I’m not sure how many accounts have access to this scheme. I’m 99.9% that Full Whack +Loyalty customers don’t. There’s a chance that Full Whack customers don’t either, from what I’ve worked out from feedback and comments on Twitter, but their site still lists FilmExtra in their FAQ so I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been fully eradicated.

Running purely on that assumption, here’s some information about how it works:

An Extra Film Credit Token is exactly what it says on the Tin. You get one, you use it, you get an extra Film sent out to you from your list. Usually it’s from your Top Priority, sometimes it can be from your Medium Priority. Once I got one from my low Priority, but I won the token after adding a bunch of films I had no intention of watching to my List, just because it would have got me a Token.

When it comes to those kind of competitions, here’s a sneaky tip. Add the films you need to, to your main list, but put them all on low priority. When you get your token for it, delete the films you added and make sure your list maximises the chances of you getting a title you really would like to see, then choose to use it.

When you have more then one Token to be used, wait a good two weeks before using one token after another, because adding an extra film can make it go a bit wonky, in a good way, for a few Dispatches. And don’t worry, if a token disc arrives faulty, reporting it won’t lose you the extra film.

Last but not least, the CopyRight/Renting Law Issues I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. There is a problem between Universal Pictures and LoveFilm in the UK, just as there is with Netflix in America. Even if you reserve Universal Movies and they stay in your Reserve list until the day of release, once it’s been released, any and all Universal DVDs will be “Buy Only.” This is why you need more than just Coming Soon or New Releases on your lists, you’ll end up getting less than your moneys worth if you’re waiting for new releases to come out if they’re made by Universal Pictures.

For more indepth information on that, google it, because it’s a very involved topic that I just wouldn’t do justice by summing it up here. You just have to remember that the lack of Universal options aren’t purely LoveFilm’s fault. Many people don’t seem to understand that, and they end up reviewing the titles with complaints on the matter. Doing that is both pointless and wrong, because all that does is skew the title’s popularity rating and makes it seem all LoveFilm’s fault.

I hope I’ve been of help. If you’re not a member yet and my entry has tempted you to become one, I can get you a month free trial. Just drop a comment with your email (I’ll delete it straight afterwards if you’d like) and I’ll get back to you with the referral link.


How To Get The Best Out Of Your LoveFilm Experience…

Monday 12 September, 2011

This blog entry was brought to you by a good friend pointing out that my assisting him with his LoveFilming should be turned into a blog entry.

So here we are!

I am a LoveFilm user. I’ve been a member for over a year, courtesy of my aforementioned good friend, who has been a member for at least two years. Which is why it was quite surprising for me to be giving him pointers and not the other way around.

First of all, you need to be a proper DVD/Game buff to get your moneys worth. As advertised, you can get a basic service for the minimum of £4.99, but that only allows you to get one DVD at a time and a total of two DVDs a month. The further up the price, the service vs money spent evens out. Think of your average price of a Movie or a Boxset, plus P+P, and then compare it to the subscription fee. If you’re looking to get the latest releases but run the risk of your list always being at 10 Titles or less, this service won’t be for you. There is also an issue of Copyright/Renting Laws that I won’t go in to right now.

The service I use is the Full Whack one. I get Unlimited DVDs a month, three discs at a time. I can get through about 9 Discs a week when the service runs smoothly. I will talk about what could happen when the service doesn’t work smoothly a little bit later.

As a film buff and not much of a console gamer, I won’t be talking about the Games side of LoveFilm.

So now we’ve established what account makes the service worth it and the best kind of customer for such a service, lets move on to the service itself.

There is no point filling your list with films you don’t want to see or be sent for the sake of buffing up your title list so that you’re not sent annoying messages telling you that your list is low. That is why you need to be quite the TV/Movie fanatic. Prioritising does work, but it’s not perfect. I’ve only ever been sent “low” priorities twice, but it can and does happen without the influencing circumstances that befell me:

Once was when I had a short list of about 15 Titles and most of them were either “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, and the second time was when I’d entered a competition. I will talk about Competitions a bit later.

To make sure you can influence the discs LoveFilm send you so much so that you’re mostly in control of what you get, use Lists wisely. Seperate different Genres/Themes/Mediums if need be and then prioritise within those Lists.

For example, I’ve made sure all films are in a Films List, and the ones that I really want to see as soon as possible are Maximum Priority. On the List’s Edit page, I have two disc symbols next to it so that I get two Films every dispatch. I have a specified TV Show list, where I move specific TV shows in to so that I get discs from that TV show and only that TV show so that I can work through the show without getting mixed up with other shows. My remaining Disc symbol stays next to that disc.

There is a Subscription option where you can get five discs at a time, and ten discs total a month. I’m guessing that could work quite similar to my system, if you wanted to get more discs from your lists at a time.

And just for the record, I also have a List made up Documentaries and another one of TV Shows that are waiting “To be organised”. By which I mean, they’re just all there out of the way of the Film List, waiting to be selected for the next show I work through. You can have 10 Lists on the go at a time.

Some good methods of always keeping your Lists above the minimum amount, apart from being a constant film buff, is cataloging. Don’t know what that is? That’s ok, I think I made it up a few years ago.

It’s where you choose an actor and you rent their whole catalogue of films and TV shows they’ve ever been in. That gets you, on average, a good 10 films, and maybe two complete TV Series as well. Even if they’re just in one episode. Obviously if you know you won’t like the film or have already seen it, don’t add it. But it is a great way to expand your viewing horizons, see films or shows you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

I mentioned this to my good friend and he liked the idea, and then came up with a good idea himself. Get your friend, who may or may not have different tastes to you, to list all the films they hate and add all the ones you haven’t seen yet/don’t know whether you’ll like or not to your list.

Or if you do have similar tastes, ask a friend to list their top rated films and add those instead. Unless you’ve seen them, that is.

When there is a “Long Wait” or “Short Wait” on some Titles, I find it best to rejiggle them so that they’re medium or low priority so that you have a higher choice of getting something Top Priority, instead of them potentially bypassing the next disc and choosing something you didn’t want to see just yet, or had better things to watch right then. As soon as they’re no longer classed as “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, you can re-prioritise them to their previous position on the list.

Sometimes, things don’t go quite well. Sometimes it’s the Post’s fault; post is sometimes delayed and some discs have been known to “go missing”, but when it’s LoveFilm’s fault, let them know. If there’s a faulty disc, it’s easy to report it and get a replacement. Depending on how your lists are set up and what list your disc is from, you might even get a second Disc along with the replacement. All you have to do is replace the one that doesn’t work.

I’ll be honest, in the year I’ve been using LoveFilm, I’ve had to report a lot of discs as faulty, but their extra discs on replacement and prompt responses of Customer Service make up for it. What you have to remember is a LOT of people use LoveFilm, some discs will be worn from over play and some will be scratched by careless people. The same can go for any rental service.

As I mentioned earlier, LoveFilm sometimes do competitions. Sometimes they’re to win merchandise, or free cinema tickets. The prize more often than not, though, is an Extra Film Credit Token. And most of the time, you get one just for participating.

An Extra Film Credit Token is exactly what it says on the Tin. You get one, you use it, you get an extra Film sent out to you from your list. Usually it’s from your Top Priority, sometimes it can be from your Medium Priority. Once I got one from my low Priority, but I won the token after adding a bunch of films I had no intention of watching to my List, just because it would have got me a Token.

When it comes to those kind of competitions, here’s a sneaky tip. Add them to your main list, put them all on low priority and then once you get your token for it, delete the films you added.

Wait a good two weeks before using one token after another, because adding an extra film can make it go a bit wonky, in a good way, for a few Dispatches. And don’t worry, if a token disc arrives faulty, reporting it won’t lose you the extra film.

And last but not least, the CopyRight/Renting Law Issues I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. There is a problem between Universal Pictures and LoveFilm in the UK, just as there is with Netflix in America. Even if you reserve Universal Movies and they stay in your Reserve list until the day of release, once it’s been released, any and all Universal DVDs will be “Buy Only.” This makes the method of only adding new releases pretty pointless. You’ll get less than your moneys worth if you’re waiting for new releases to come out if they’re made by Universal Pictures.

For more information on that, google it.

I hope I’ve been of help. If you’re not a member and my entry has tempted you to become one, I can get you a month free trial! Feel free to comment here and I can give you the code.