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Johns Hopkins White Papers - Readers' Complaints and Taking Action

By February 4, 2011

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In March 2009, I first told you about a "survey" I had received, supposedly issued by Johns Hopkins Medical University and Institutes, asking me all kinds of information about my health and interests. Out of curiosity, and in the process of looking for previous years' survey results, I figured out that this supposed survey was actually marketing in disguise - and I took Johns Hopkins to task for being what I considered to be underhanded data mining.

The immediate reply on the part of you, my Patient Empowerment readers, was to share comments that the survey wasn't the only masked marketing Johns Hopkins was doing. In fact, the bigger problem was their series of "White Papers" on every disease topic you can imagine (or, perhaps more to the point, every disease topic they could make enough money from like arthritis, heart disease, prostate cancer, Alzheimers and others). Readers were getting white papers they hadn't ordered, were being billed for them, were being told they would go into collections over them - a real mess to be sure.

Fast forward to 2011 - and it's like deja vu all over again. In the past week or so we've begun to receive complaints again about those Johns Hopkins White Papers. It was time to put a stop to it!

So I contacted Johns Hopkins' marketing people -- again -- and was sent to the company that handles the marketing of the white papers on Johns Hopkins behalf. That company is Remedy Health Media. They write, market and distribute information products like white papers, news alerts and others, and put the Johns Hopkins name on them. Yes, with the blessing of Johns Hopkins.

After a number of phone calls and emails, I do have the impression that Remedy Media and its CEO, Mike Cunnion, sincerely want to "remedy" these billing problems for customers. Mike provided an email address and phone numbers to make that easy for those of you who feel you have been billed in error and who want to stop the arrival of the white papers.

In addition, Mike assures me that they are looking at ways to reformat their marketing so these problems won't continue to crop up.

Time will tell if his sincerity will translate to action.

Readers: I look to you to let us know how successful this campaign to clean up the billing has been for Johns Hopkins White Papers. Comment below if you continue to run into problems and we will see that Remedy Media and Johns Hopkins get the word.

Johns Hopkins Survey: True Interest? Data Mining? or Shameless Marketing?

Addressing Complaints Over Johns Hopkins Medical White Papers

Stop the Arrival of Bills for Johns Hopkins White Papers

[An aside here to Johns Hopkins and its marketing group, led by Gary Stephenson and Doug Hall: You have known about these problems for years. You have known that customers weren't happy and surely you understand how this kind of customer disservice is a stain on your brand. As a fellow and former marketing professional - I have to wonder what on earth Johns Hopkins has been thinking in allowing this to continue for so long!]

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Comments
February 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm
(1) Sandy says:

Thank you so much for this information! It is impossible to find any helpful information on the paperwork that comes with the unwanted White Papers that helps to remedy this situation.

February 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(2) emaven says:

My husband ordered a paper in Oct. 2009.

In Oct. 2010 he received that years addition without ordering it.
I immediately called, requested that the name be removed from the subscription list.

I also wanted to return the paper and cancel the billing.

They sent me a postage paid form and the paper was returned by the USPS.

Today, Feb. 18, 2011, he received another bill for the paper.
Again, I called the company, 800-829-0422.

The lady said that the subscription was canceled previously, and that the bill would be also. I asked why it had not been canceled already, and she said that it was not processed yet.
Seems like too long a time for that.

She said that she would cancel the bill, and to ignore any future bills.
Hopefully that should be the end of it.

The original paper was ordered from the web site.
I viewed the web site to see what was stated.
There are many places to order the papers.
Only after scrolling a long way down to the very bottom can you see that this would turn into a subscription.
This seems very deceptive to me.

February 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm
(3) Janet says:

I too have been a victim of this company. The first paper was terrible and I called and told them not to send more. Then late this past December another one arrived while we were gone. I returned it with the enclosed bill plus a note saying I didn’t want this one or any future shipments. And so today, 2/18/11 I have received a bill saying I ordered it on 10/04/10 (wrong!!), signed by Wilma Garcia in the amount of $31.90. No phone numbers on the invoice. Thanks to you I had a customer service number. THey claimed not to have yet received my return but agreed to credit my account for that and to stop all future shipments.

I agree. Johns Hopkins should be ASHAMED to be associated with this company. Who is making the $? JH?

I think I will try to find the name and address of the CEO for JH and perhaps we can all write him/her a letter as well.
Well, that is easier said than done, it seems. If I find it later, I will post again. Meanwhile, if YOU find out who to write to at JH, let us all know.

February 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm
(4) Janet says:

I wrote to Gary Stephenson, telling him how sad it is that a prestigious organization should be involved with such a terrible company.

(Janet – thanks for posting all the contact information you found – however – I have deleted it because it will not be so useful to you as the direct contact information provided by Remedy Media mentioned in the article above: Link here for that information.)

February 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm
(5) Marie says:

Wow, finding this page is perfect timeing! I just spent 2 days trying to coordinate the invoice I just received with my billing files….they are billing me for a White Paper already paid. I did see the 2nd part about subscription and hesitated at first, but let it go. I purchased one hardcover, then one download, received another hardcover and mailed it back with ‘cancel’ across invoice as they directed. Now I know how to “try” to remedy this problem.

It truly is a very bad reflection on JHH!!
Phone and email? Invoice has neither information….
Should I use Certified Mail? What would legally hold up the best????

February 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm
(6) Trisha Torrey says:

Marie,

Everything you need is in the linked article – see the post above, or link here for the phone number and email address to clear this up.

And if you still have trouble. Let me know and I’ll let the hammer down :-)

Trisha

March 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm
(7) richard cizek says:

Been taking the white papers for a few years with no problems but this year I received 2 seperate vouchers each titled only as for white papers. Have never seen the 2 reports. I blame the problem on Johns Hopkins. They need to take control of their subcontractor or get a new one.

April 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm
(8) J Penrod says:

Thanks so much for contact info for putting a stop to the outrageous scam sales tactics of John Hopkins White Papers. I’ve been trying since December to get them to stop billing for a White Paper I didn’t order and don’t want. Today I tried the email address you provided. Now we will see…

April 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm
(9) JPenrod says:

Thank you again for your helpful contact info, you were right! I emailed Remedy and promptly got a satisfactory reply from “Mathew, Customer Service Manager’. I would have fought them forever but for your help. And thank you Mathew.

Now let’s see if the bills stop.

May 23, 2011 at 4:20 am
(10) ANA VASILACHE says:

Thank you for taking action and giving me useful information! I ordered one white paper last year, I paid on-line and this year I received a new paper without ordering it. Now I understand why. I wrote an e-mail to customer service explaining that I consider this marketing strategy aggressive and disrespectful, I do not have time to waist to go to the post office to send back the document, nor I want to waist money to send it back from Romania. But they keep sending me by post the invoice, asking me to write them why I do not pay. I sent back by post the invoice and wrote a letter also, to the address from the invoice Johns Hopkins Medicine, PO Box 8532, Big Sandy TX 75755, explaining why I do not want to pay or send back the document, but the invoices keep coming ignoring my efforts to explain in a civilized way why I think this stupid and cheating marketing really harm Johns Hopkin credibility and image. I decided to never buy another White Paper!!!

May 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm
(11) bill says:

same problem. never ordered what I believe must be an update.
I’ve returned six bills with comment and asked for envelope to return paper. Nothing. I’m now in fighting mood.

May 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm
(12) bill says:

I sent email to address noted above and the amount due was cancelled. I was impressed by the response. Thanks for the help!

June 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm
(13) Peter Smith says:

This White Papers scam is truly a blight on the reputation of Johns Hopkins. I too received a White Paper that I did not order along with a bill for $23.71. I returned the bill with the note that I had not ordered it. I have now received six additional bills over the months. Now they are saying “we will send your name to collections.” It is signed Wilam Garcia For The Johns Hopkins White Papers. The billing address is Johns Hopkins Medicine, P.O. Box 8532, Big Sandy, TX 75755. I am ready to turn this over to the Texas Attorney General. These people are crooks.

June 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm
(14) Maria Miralles says:

Please discontinue sending your Reports. I cancelled a couple of years ago and DO NOT WANT THEM!!!

July 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm
(15) David O'Leary says:

Above comments are very helpful. At least now I have a phone number to call. Last fall I received a White Paper which I did not order, and marked it RETURN TO SENDER. I keep getting billed for this, although return address was clearly indicated (Big Sandy, Texas). If indeed Johns Hopkins doctors do not write these papers, this is a total fraud upon an unsuspecting public.

Very grateful to Trisha Torrey.

July 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm
(16) Disgusted in Texas says:

I have been getting billing notices for something I thought I paid for long ago – 2 papers, one on memory, one on arthritis – and endless offers and emails, to the point of spam.

Finally today I thought, I’ll clear this up, call them, pay if I do owe, and get it shut off. NO PHONE NUMBER anywhere on the statement, just a PO Box.

I Googled the topic to try to locate a number, and found your site. Their publications arm borders on a scam – and this is allowed to go on, by what’s supposed to be the premier medical institute in America? That tells us all we need to know about what’s really at the root of the health care crisis – greed.

July 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm
(17) JHwary says:

PART 1

Thank you for your consumer advocacy

I hope in the long run Hopkins will listen to counsumers’ complaints.

I have benefited greatly from a Hopkins paperback book in the past. the book was obtained long ago before the curent marketing strategy. The current strategy like much of the internet is to “go viral” no matter what the ultimate cost is to at risk patients.

*Search online for info about any health issue and Hopkins offers free info. The free info is only provided after regiistering an Email account even if a person refuses to give out peosonal health info via a marketing survey. It is my personal belief that the survey is a HIPPA violation. Your blog serves to reinforce my belief.

The information provided by email is a scare tactic that a person risks seriously deteriorating health if he doesn’t order a white paper.

* The only way to get the white paper is as a subscription. I did not order any white papers as a result since “cancel at antime” is definitely risky when dealing with unscrupulous marketers.

I would gladly purchase a few of these white papers, but I no longer believe that Hopkins cares that much about the health of its patients.

(I am having trouble uploading my complete remarks at one time)
continued in Part 2

July 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm
(18) JHwary says:

Part 2

*I now firmly believe that Hopkins and the marketing company should be investigated for not only HIPAA violations, but also outright abuse of the elderly.

If a roofing contractor flim flams seniors with diminshed capacities, he can go to jail.

When John Hopkins cheats people with memory impairment, it claims that it is the marketing company that is responsible.

When providing “help” for people with memory loss, general dementia and full blown Alzheimers; Hopkins takes full advantage of the illness for Hopkins own financial gain.

plague Forcing a subscriptididon on people just to obtain current information is heartless. People with a diminishing brain fuction are no match for the calculated marketing strategy that Hopkins employes.

*The hospital at one time published a great book about the care of dementia victims. It helped me a lot when caring for an aunt. Unfortunately my aunt was also a victim of John Hopkins shoddy subscription practices. Because of her mental health problems she did not cancel subscriptions to papers she could longer comprehend. She did however manage to pay all of her bills including those of John Hopkins.

In the book Hopkins warned about protecting the dementia patient from consequences that result from the very practices that Hopkins uses. Shame, shame, shame, on John Hopkins.

July 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm
(19) JHwary says:

Part 3

*I would really love to learn more about various health issues which Hopkins knows much about. I would rather buy a book in a bookstore than let my own health concerens be used against me.

*YOU HAVE MY GRATTITUDE……
…. that you have stood up the Hopkins elderabuse system. I am only saddened that you seem to believe that JH will ever mend its ways. Hopkins knows too much about human nature and the fears that plague peiople about their health. Hopkins is too big and prestigeous to ever be called to task for what they do to fleece people with diminished capacity.

I am bookmarking your website for future developements in the John Hopkins saga. I am sure that there will be many more complaints.

August 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm
(20) Donna says:

The 800# for Customer Service is no longer in operation but Mike Cunnion’s is!

September 20, 2011 at 11:35 am
(21) Betsy Taylor says:

Here’s my experience. Over the years, my elderly mother & then my husband had terrible experiences with the JHU White Papers — getting unwanted reports & dunning letters. However, I wanted to get one report & called the (at that time) Florida number in 2010 to ask if I specifically could get only one report. I also said I would only order if my name & address was NOT kept in their database or passed to any other company. They promised that I would never hear from them again. My husband warned me not to believe them — but I believed them. But, the following year, they mailed me the report & billed me. I wrote Johns Hopkins head of medical staff, the report authors & complained to the BBB. JHU told BBB that it’s not their responsibility because Remedy Health handles their publishing. Remedy Health wrote BBB an outrageous letter basically blaming me for not handling the ‘subscription’ properly. And, shifting the blame to their ‘fulfillment’ subcontractors — saying they switched from a Fla to a Texas ‘fulfillment’ subcontractor & there was an ‘understandable’ glitch in transferring databases. I am now writing BBB to say that my complaint has not been addressed — because a) they are practicing false advertising in not making it clear from the get go that this is a ‘subscription’ not a one-time purchase b) they were in error to keep me in database & transfer my records between companies when I’d explicitly been promised would not do so and c) their letter & their marketing blur the boundary between commerce & medical care — in a way that seems to violate both business & medical ethics and d) that they seem to be a sprawling network of multiple subcontractors — such that no entity is willing or able to be accountable to the consumer — instead they keep passing the buck, so a consumer has no entity with which to establish a clear contract.

September 20, 2011 at 11:39 am
(22) Betsy Taylor says:

I suggest people contact the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAUS in Baltimore & New York City. That is what I did. The BBBs have been great — if other people contact them it might actually have an impact.

Here are the addresses where I sent letters:

BBB of Metropolitan New York
(New York, NY)
30 East 33rd Street 12th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Better Business Bureau of
Greater Maryland, Inc.
502 S. Sharp Street
Suite 1200
Baltimore, Md 21201

Simeon Margolis, M.D.,Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine and Biological Chemistry
Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Johns Hopkins University, 1830 East Monument Street, Room 336, Baltimore, MD 21287

Dr. Edward D. Miller, M.D.
Dean of the Medical Faculty
Chief Executive Officer
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore MD 21287

October 10, 2011 at 1:21 am
(23) Roger Pilkington says:

Hi
I am pleased to read other people’s complaints against John Hopkins. I have ordered and paid for by credit card a few papers, as my wife has a serious disease. Some of the information has been useful. I ordered 4 Bulletins in the spring of 2011 and paid $175. So far I have received 2 – “Spring” and “Summer”. I usually find a bit of information in each one that has been useful. I received a White paper in the mail and an invoice for about $25; this White paper I did not order. I am now concerned that if I do not settle the charges for the White Paper to their satisfaction, they might not send me the remaining Bulletins that I am due. I note that they said return the White Paper within 30 days; of course they do not put any date on their letter accompanying the White Paper. I return the White Paper and see what happens.

November 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm
(24) Bruce Johnson says:

It would not be easy to find a long standing institution that has not a one time sold it’s soul to the devil. There is money in these “White Papers” for Johns Hopkins or a few of it’s people or they would have put an instant stop to this scam a long time ago. The fact that they have not stopped it immediately tells me all I need to know.

December 19, 2011 at 12:53 am
(25) Remaining Nameless in Texas says:

I hope this clears up a lot of confusion and frustration regarding the Johns Hopkins White Papers… the information should have been readily available upon request. Below is the contact information you need. When you call, let the representative know that you never intended for the one time purchase to become a subscription. Tell them that you want the balance removed immediately. You can also print a return label from the following website so that you can return the white papers at no charge to you:
http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/customer-service/
You will click on: Need to return a White Paper? Click here to print a Return Label.

(800) 829-0422 (U.S and Canada)
(903) 636-5355 (International callers)

Customer Service Hours:
Hours: M to F – 7AM to 9PM CT
Sat – 8AM TO 5PM CT
Sun – 9AM TO 5PM CT

Have questions about the White Paper program? Click Here

Have questions about the Health After 50 Newsletter? Click Here

Need to return a White Paper? Click here to print a Return Label

Website questions and support: If you have a question regarding this web site, need technical support, want to know how to subscribe/unsubscribe to and from the Health Alerts, please contact us at: customerservice@johnshopkinshealthalerts.com

December 19, 2011 at 7:17 am
(26) Trisha Torrey says:

Dear Remaining,

Thanks for adding this – with a “however”….

The frustrations expressed by many of the commenters above is that they have followed those instructions, returning those Johns Hopkins White Papers, yet they continue to get bills for them, or harrassing phone calls.

My recommendation: If you return a white paper, be sure you keep copies of any and all enclosures, post office receipts, etc etc. Mail it with a signature return so you can prove they received it. Prepare for headaches.

Trisha

December 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm
(27) Doug says:

I ordered a white paper and was told it would arrive in 4-6 weeks (sic). So I cancelled the order. Johns Hopkins Publications acknowledged the cancellation but so far there has been no credit to my Discover card. I’m out $28.90. I have initiated a dispute with Discover card. I wish I had never heard of this company.

January 31, 2012 at 7:57 pm
(28) richard cizek says:

Received billing with improper address but was forwarded to me. Never received the White Paper. Someone probably kept it. Don’t understand why the address was wrong as i have been receiving these for several years.and no problem with the address. I agree with comments made that Johns Hopkins Needs to control their sub-contractor.

January 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm
(29) richard cizek says:

Tried to call and send e-mail from info on billing but e-mail was improper address and no one answered the phone. wonder what Texas official is getting a kickback from this company.

April 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm
(30) Von Smith says:

I am so glad I found your coverage of this. I was able to email a scanned copy of the invoice plus my letter to the right place right away. I had been all over the JH website looking for anyone to contact without success. I plan to share your site with my friends on facebook and anyone else I can think of.

If Johns Hopkins wants to let its name be sullied, so be it. This was a scurvy scheme at best. Criminal in my mind.

October 9, 2012 at 7:39 am
(31) Boobie Bee says:

At suburban hospital a Johns Hopkins Affiliate my dad was a patient there for cardiac arrest. Although JH as a world wide reputation I first thought i dare I complain about the highest quality hospital in the world that is how you come across. Quite frankly there are other great hospitals also. You are good in many areas.

My father had a heart attack at four fifteen am about twelve days ago.
He was an older patient. The doctor waited more then twenty four hours to order an I.V. for him he was elderly and very dehydrated.. that came across to me like lets help him die earlier. Even though his heart attack was acute
it was never offered for us to see the x-rays to explain what after math he suffered from his heart attack and what options did we have. This was not done this helps to educate family on what is happening. And doctors never offer it … I wonder if this would keep malpractice down .

I would needed to stay at the hospital to make sure he was properly taken care of by the assigned doctor he had. He did seem very knowledgeable. Personally I would have appreciated to be properly informed with an x-ray as to what happened away from my father.

He died anyways but I truely think that it seemed neglectful on the doctor’s part or maybe the nurse(s) did get the order earlier and for whatever the reason could not do it earlier.

I have witnessed this lack of in patient care towards the elderly more then at one hospital. I have more then just this to say which border lines
other events that has happened over the years. For the most part there has been good care however there is a but in my comment. They did take good care of us over all. but the issue with my dad on this iv fluid drip is unforgivable and acted as he did not matter.Furthermore, what made matters worse is his nurse when I called to his floor when I asked how my dad was doing he said. “lets just say he is comfortable he will probably die within the night.”

January 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm
(32) Nathan says:

I called the number 1-800-829-9170 of these publishers in Big Sandy, Texas, today and was able to get someone named Taylor to tell me that the white papers sent by both University of California Berkeley Wellness and Johns Hopkins Medicine were not necessary to return, nor did we have to pay the bill. She would cancel the bills and any further orders.

The bill had been bothering my father because of course he did not remember that in 2011 he had requested an item from them, and they were automatically sending the annual updates for 2013 and billing 20 dollars and shipping and handling for each of these slim volumes.

We shall see if they are good to their word. Each of these publications is written or edited by a single MD, and it would probably damage their reputation to be associated with this publisher that obviously targets seniors with bills for items that they have never requested.

Good luck and keep up the good work with monitoring this publisher!

–Nathan

April 6, 2013 at 12:00 am
(33) RCO says:

University of California Berkeley Wellness Reports out of the same PO Box and Wilma Garcia running the same exact scam out of Big Sandy, TX.

Down to they have deliberately misspelled word(s) in their customer service e-mail address in their correspondence to make it take several tries to send an e-mail that does not immediately bounce back.

May 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm
(34) John Cook says:

About two years ago, I received a 2nd copy of a Johns Hopkins White paper. Since it was a year after I received the one I paid for, I returned it. I was told that they didn’t receive it.

Now, I’m getting “Arthritis Advisor” from the Cleveland Clinic, via Big Sandy, TX. PO Box 8535. Same scam as before. I told them I didn’t order it and didn’t want it.

Today, I received another invoice and a copy of the “Arthritis Advisor” newsletter from the Cleveland Clinic via Big Sandy, TX. I knew it was part of the previous scam. I am retired after 37 years with the FBI in Washington, DC. This is mail fraud, a Federal offense. I returned all the material they sent me. If I continue to received more of this junk, I will forward it to the FBI, someone I know who will look into it.

JOHN COOK
Florida

May 20, 2013 at 9:35 am
(35) John Flemming says:

As much as I would like to read one of these “white papers” my general rule is to avoid any marketing scheme that locks you in with only an opt out option. Every time I’ve done it I regret it.
So do the research on line if you do not want to be part of the Johns Hopkins money maker. There are lots of other research hospitals.
Good luck.

June 29, 2013 at 11:04 am
(36) Gary says:

I don’t think things have changed. I thought I was getting a health alert from the actual Hospital/Med School alert. As I read through the email, I began thinking, “This seems like a late-night TV come-on.” Sure enough when I finally found the price, it was $19.95 + $3.95 s&h! Geesh! I could buy a vegematic for that same deal. That’s when I looked for a review and found yours. Thanks!

The other thing is when things like this are located in high-priced markets like NY, NY, I immediately feel suspicious. If they were bona fide, they’d want to keep costs down and locate in some suburb where rent is cheaper.

January 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm
(37) Ken from Wisconsin says:

The scam continues. Cancelled 2014 Arthritis White Paper and it came anyway–along with the invoice, of course…what good does it do to report these people to the BBB or anyone else? Nothing has changed…

February 26, 2014 at 2:03 pm
(38) Russell says:

Got a bill for white papers that were for updates. I called the customer service number you listed and they said they would stop all billing. This is 2/27/2014. Thank you for the phone number. I hope it works.

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