Cornwall & Area Ad Buyers Upset at Hospital Video Ad Seller Patient Direct 100517

Feeling scammed, ripped off, lied to or ignored by Patient Direct aka the Community Network or MIS TV? You’re not alone.  

By Mary Anne Pankhurst

If you’re a local business owner in Ontario “you” are the target market for Patient Direct. In fact the company may be so clever (after having developed markets like Australia, England and Ireland) that it can predict how media buyers will profitably behave.

Therein lies the company’s biggest opportunity. Some might call it a classic “sitting duck” strategy.

Most Canadians are aware of the more high profile Buyer Beware stories of recent times. There’s the India-based telemarketing duct cleaning scam, the fake Microsoft tech support scam, and many recall the door-to-door furnace-sales scam that put many seniors and low-income households in serious financial peril.

But advertising in hospital and clinic waiting rooms; how does that allegedly work?

Well, in Australia it is reported this way by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Sydney Morning Herald) under the broader headline: Small businesses scammed out of $ 2.2 million

The ACCC continues to pursue Multimedia International Services, which trades as The Community Network, and sells digital advertising to small businesses which is shown on branded LCD screens at fitness centres, news agencies and shopping centres.

The watchdog has issued Federal Court proceedings claiming the Community Network refused to release small businesses from contracts for advertising services even when it was not providing those services, then pursuing them for non-payment, threatening legal action and, in one case, engaging debt collectors.”


But back to Cornwall and other Ontario communities along the 401 corridor.

After a pitch from one of the company’s professional and well-spoken travelling sales reps – who will present the benefits of digital advertising on a network of screens in hospital and clinic waiting rooms – many business owners will feel so confident they’ll sign on the dotted line immediately, pay a good chunk of the price up front, and fail even to attend a location to look at the screen in context.

And as you can see from the photo of the Cornwall Community Hospital’s Emergency waiting room, the screen is mostly impossible to read and way back behind the triage nurse whose space must lawfully be protected (from people who might wish to stand near) for reasons of patient confidentiality.

And let’s face it,  people sitting in hospital emergency departments are generally in crisis. So if a company is advertising its restaurant, car repair shop, pharmacy or law practice, it should ask itself whether the victim of a car crash, the person having the asthma attack or signs of stroke are actually seeing or thinking about these services.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to advertise in whichever local media has the most suitable demographic and/or readership numbers? Moreover, and in most cases, these media buys will not entail long multi page contracts and if you have an account will invoice you only “after” your ads have proofed by you and then run.

After dozens of phone calls to business owners who have purchased a minimum two-year ad buy from Patient Direct, it’s easy to conclude their experience match those reported on a facebook page titled The Community Network Scam!  the Better Business Bureau  and on Google .

In fairness however, the Patient Direct company states on a Better Business Bureau review, that:

As a business owner it is your responsibility to ensure that you read and understand all the terms and conditions before signing; Customers are advised in the terms and conditions that termination must be received within the first 18 months if they do not wish to continue after the initial 2 year period, further more the rolling nature of the contract is stated in bold on the front of your agreement below your signature.” 

If you believe you have been scammed, you can report it to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre

But remember:

  • Hospital and clinic administrators are also under contract with Patient Direct. They too have contractual agreements with promises of revenue splitting they may never see, and their hands may be tied in ways you don’t realize
  • Contracts are lengthy and more like fly paper; easy to get into, sticky to get out of
  • Asking for payment up front and buying locations “sight unseen” should all be red flags



  1. Does anyone (patients, etc.) actually view these screens? They’ve been around for years and I doubt anyone spends any serious time watching them.

  2. Author

    Hugger it’s really funny Karma in that many of those advertising on those screens boycott CFN which costs a fraction of those TV ads without six page contracts or long terms. You should have heard the vile nastiness spewing from Lawyer Michele Allinotte on the phone to yours truly yesterday. Think about this. A lawyer apparently seems to not have read a contract she herself apparently signed? And then publicly defamed the company? There’s too much of a school yard mindset with some local advertisers who too frequently ask “who else is advertising” instead of crunching numbers and doing what’s best for their businesses. I think some of these people forget that their employees rely on them not to mess up their businesses so that they can earn a living. Bad marketing consistently leads to weaker results which leads to fewer jobs, fewer raises, and in some cases as we’ve seen with the former President of our Chamber of Commerce, a failing of their business.

  3. Yes Jamie, karma at it’s best ! This is hilarious ! As Jules would say “ROL,ROL ! Next time I see, one of these monitors, I will see where not to do business ! Did they not read the contract ? Should of hired a lawyer ? So much for supporting local businesses ? Did this scam cost the local Hospital anything, or will there be another fundraiser ? P.S. Xmas is coming, shop locally ! lol

  4. Author

    Ryan as we saw, at least one of them is a lawyer. I checked out a few monitors today and will be doing an editorial as it’s really odd for businesses hoping to be supported locally to be spending wads of cash to overseas companies instead of supporting local media, or at least media outlets that have local affiliates.

  5. I have seen the screens here in Ottawas hospitals as well. I don’t know if many pay any attention to them. I almost landed in the hospital today – went shopping on the bus with dd and the driver drove like a bat out of hell and yours truly was in the back of the bus where stairs and I went flying with his speed and flew out the back door and ripped my pants on the knee and a few people caught me

  6. Jamie there are very few good lawyers around today that you can trust. A lawyer who does not read the contract that they signed are useless and only there for their money. Lawyers are professional {MODERATED} nothing else that is good that comes out of them.

  7. The same company, although it now calls itself Digital Direct has done the same here in the UK. The promised 5-10 repeat cycle can be anything up to 35 minutes so no one sees your ad more than once if at all and the screen has banners for them so your ad only shows on 2/3 of the screen. u need 2 give 6 months cancellation notice. I have a victim support page on Facebook.

  8. Author

    Leigh feel free to post the link.

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