What Doctors Don’t Tell You: responses to complaints

While bully boys and trolls have been raising concerns with stockists and the distributor over this magazine, free speech advocates have been using libel chill to stop us talking about it.

Here are the responses we’ve had so far.

WHSmith

Thank you for contacting us regarding the magazine “What the doctors don’t tell you”.

As the UK’s leading retailer of stationery, books, magazines and newspapers, we aim to offer our customers a wide choice of products, whilst also respecting customer views. Our customers often have widely differing opinions about the products we sell, so we aim to strike the right balance to meet the needs of all our customers.

We work closely with the magazine publishers to ensure that their products meet the expectations of our customers. Where we receive customer complaints about a certain publication, WHSmith commits to raise these concerns directly with the publisher.

Customer feedback is extremely important to us and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share your concerns.

Kind Regards

David Trollope

Customer Services Coordinator

This reply has already been discussed on this Quackometer post.

WHSmith may be contacted at Customer.Relations@WHSmith.co.uk.

UPDATE 11/10/12

I emailed the WDDTY retailers and Comag Specialist again yesterday, pointing out that the publishers’ (WDDTY themselves) response to criticism has been inappropriate and I believe the onus is therefore now on retailers and the distributor to act.

I have just had the following (unsatisfactory) reply:

Thank for your your further email regarding this magazine.

We work closely with the magazine publishers to ensure that their products meet the expectations of our customers. Where we receive customer complaints about a certain publication, WHSmith commits to raise these concerns directly with the publisher.  We have no current plans to remove this magazine from our stockfile .

Customer feedback is extremely important to us and I’d like to thank you again  for taking the time to share your concerns.

Kind regards

Linda Robbins

Customer Service Co-ordinator

I am so unhappy with this response that I have decided to publish my emails to WHSmith. You can decide for yourself if you think they are acting responsibly.

Once more, WHSmith may be contacted at Customer.Relations@WHSmith.co.uk.

Waitrose

We prefer to leave it to our customers to decide what they purchase. However, we have recieved requests from customers for us to stop stokcing this product, and your feedback has been passed on.

I get the impression this means they have done nothing so far.

Waitrose may be contacted at customersupport@waitrose.co.uk.

Sainsbury’s

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry your upset that we stock the magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You. I can appreciate how disappointed you must be as you have strong concerns about it. Magazines like these are available in most stores that sell a comprehensive range and as a major retailer of newspapers and magazines, we aim to meet the demands of a wide range of cutomers. We expect our customers to make an informed choice of what type of magazine they read. They views expressed in this product are not they views of Sainsburys’. If you have any concerns about the content of this item you should contact its publisher. I’ve logged the details of this on to our system and will pass your comments on to the relevant department. We take feedback of this nature seriously. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us and look forward to seeing you in store again soon. Kind regards Robert Harvie

Again, despite taking ‘feedback of this nature seriously’, I suspect this means nothing has been done.

Sainsbury’s may be contacted at customerservice@sainsburys.co.uk.

Tesco

Tesco had been missed off the list of retailers on the initial WDDTY post by Hayley Stevens and also missed off the subsequent ‘bully boys’ facebook update by magazine owner, Lynne McTaggart.

For this reason, up until this morning, they had received very few complaints. I spoke to someone over the phone just now and mentioned it is likely that further complaints may come in – meaning an official public response may be necessary. For that reason, rather than simply logging my complaint, it has been put on hold until Monday, pending further complaints.

UPDATE 06/10/12

@Blue_Wode tweeted:

Just had Tesco on the phone. All my info going to its Head Office as part of a serious review of @wddty magazine. cc @lynnemctaggart

Tesco may be contacted here or by email at customer.services@tesco.co.uk.

UPDATE 10/10/12

Following a telephone conversation on Monday, it is my understanding that Tesco are not issuing a statement from Head Office yet as they have not had a large number of complaints.

UPDATE 16/10/12

I have just received the following, by email. I think this is unsatisfactory for two main reasons:

  • Tesco don’t stock absolutely anything for which there would be demand.
  • It fails to address the points I had raised about a large proportion of the advertising not being CAP compliant and a large proportion of the articles being misleading (in my view).

(My second email to Tesco was more or less the same as my second one to WHSmith, which may be read here.)

I understand you have concerns over the magazine, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, and I can appreciate your views on the matter.

We are in the position of offering our customers choice rather than appointing ourselves as censors or moral guardians. The publisher of this magazine prints on page 3 a liability statement advising readers to consult a qualified practitioner before undertaking any treatment.

While we cannot comment on the contents of these magazines, your comments have been duly noted and fed back to our Buying Teams.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Kind regards

Sarah Taylor
Tesco Customer Service

UPDATE 14/09/13

It was pointed out that Tesco’s new stance regarding lads’ mags does not fit with the above response regarding censorship, and that their partnership with Diabetes UK seems undermined by the fact they are giving misleading and dangerous information on diabetes such a public platform. Tesco have now indicated that if they receive a large amount of contact regarding What Doctors Don’t Tell You that they may “make alterations”. Their email may be read here.

Comag

Comag are the distributors of the magazine who have instructed legal counsel against Simon Singh after he suggested he might publish their correspondence. According to McTaggart, they also essentially told him to ‘shove off’.

This press release indicates Comag Specialist are responsible for What Doctors Don’t Tell You. They may be contacted here.

UPDATE 06/10/12

It is my understanding that Comag Specialist are advising complainants to contact the publisher. Should you wish to do this, the address is bryan@wddty.co.uk.

UPDATE 01/02/13

Morrisons also stock the magazine. Their contact details are here.

Asda also stock the magazine. Their contact details are here.

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20 responses to “What Doctors Don’t Tell You: responses to complaints

  1. Pingback: Quack rag distributor threatens to sue Singh: relevant links and what you can do | Josephine Jones

  2. Just finished writing to each of the newsagents about WDDTY, stressing the effect stocking this magazine may have on their reputation, especially if someone was injured as a result of their “advice”. Hopefully many others do the same.

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  4. The press release calls this mag a well respected health journal. Maybe the Lancet could take a leaf out of the WDDTY book and put attractive, smiley models on the front cover, take out all of that boring science stuff and throw in the odd celebrity interview.

  5. Pingback: Morning Toolbox – October 11, 2012 – Legal Threats and Fair Use « Skeptical Software Tools

  6. Just had phone call from Tesco customer relations bod: very well rehearsed argument about not agreeing with every opinion in every mag and newspaper they sell. I pressed point about the *ethics* of promoting what could be construed as dangerous medical advice. He tried various diversionary tactics, so I asked what Tesco’s ethical policy said about promoting pseudomedical scaremongering: caught him unawares. I asked him to send the complaint “upstairs”. He said it would be logged and said that nothing would happen about any magazine unless they received “lots” of complaints. He did not put a numerical value on “lots”.

  7. Just dropped by Sainsbury’s to pick up this month’s Razzle. They don’t carry it, apparently. Whatever happened to “We expect our customers to make an informed choice of what type of magazine they read” etc etc.

  8. We are in the position of offering our customers choice rather than appointing ourselves as censors or moral guardians. The publisher of this magazine prints on page 3 a liability statement advising readers to consult a qualified practitioner before undertaking any treatment.

    This tells me that consumers interest is not a top priority with Tesco

  9. I’ve no doubt that doctors and other people in the medical industry are motivated by their own selfish interests at times. But definitely, not all of them can be labeled bad.

  10. Just allow people to make their own informed choices. If you don’t agree with the content of this magazine then don’t buy it. Allow others to have the freedom of choice.

  11. @Thelma – people should make informed choices based on actual science and evidence (and facts), not from the purveyors of junk science, quackery and woo.

  12. I’m afraid most are missing the point, drugs often injure, and harm people. It (drugs) is also a business designed to make money. This magazine is brave and I applaud it. There are many alternatives out there, that won’t make any big money and can be obtained by anyone, hence no interest from drug companies so you’ll find them working as hard as possible to discredit them. Not all may work, nothing is 100% guaranteed, but the same goes for drugs. The comments here show how powerful the medical establishments influence is on us all. I’m not saying they do no good, that would be foolish and untrue, however I am sure there is a certain amount of underhand behaviour. @Lawrence many of the therapies have been proven, arguably andecdotally but who is going to spend a lot of money researching for instance something which won’t make them a lot of money. Its naive to think only drugs are the answers to cures.

  13. @James – if something is proven to work, then it is medicine. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.

    Don’t sit there and think the alt-med and supplement manufacturers aren’t making money hand over fist, because they are.

    Do you know how many tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars are spent just to bring one successful drug to market?

    I guess it is a lot easier for the alt-med folks, who don’t actually have to prove their stuff works…..

  14. Pingback: WDDTY: My Master List | Josephine Jones

  15. Please sign my petition to get this dangerous publication full of kwackery and pseudoscience shut down:-

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ban-wtddty/signatures

  16. Have any of you people who are calling for this magazine to be removed from the shelves actually read it?

    Josephine Jones – have you actually read it??

    It seems very unlikely that you have based on the comments you have made. It is all based on research conducted by medical teams and in universities. They are not making stuff up.

    Why do you care if people choose to read this magazine? Why stop people from having the freedom to choose what they wish to read? What happened to freedom of the press?

    Who are you to decide what people can and can’t read?

    • I have indeed read the magazine. The self service checkout spared my blushes.

      I’m not accusing them of making stuff up. However, much of the content is inaccurate or misleading, either because they have misunderstood research, misrepresented it, spun it, or exaggerated it. Whether this is done deliberately or not I have no idea. The citations given are often from poor quality studies in poor quality journals or the research doesn’t actually reflect the headline in the piece. The fact that citations are given is misleading in itself, as it lends undeserved credibility to the articles.

      If this were a reputable publication, it would be possible to ask for corrections or clarifications, and failing this, to contact the PCC. What Doctors Don’t Tell You, when asked if they follow the PCC Editors’ Code, have simply ignored the question.

      I’m not telling anyone else what they can read, or indeed what they can write. However, giving this magazine shelf space in major retailers gives it unwarranted credibility. They have suggested that you can sunbathe your diabetes away and that vitamin C is a suitable treatment for HIV and measles. They have recommended dubious cancer treatments. They routinely warn against prescription medicines and vaccines. They have suggested that chocolate could lower risk of death due to heart disease, keeps arteries healthy, could help keep you slim, is a natural sunscreen, can quiet a cough and could help prevent diabetes. This would be laughable if not for the fact that people are taken in by such drivel.

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