Email from an Elsevier Publisher:
I'm so sorry this process has been difficult. As you say below, you can pay by credit card (personal or institutional). We don't have an agreement with CIHR, but they may indeed refund the cost of the sponsored access. That's something CIHR will have to advise you on.
The journal manager for JMB; firstname.lastname@example.org (name removed) is working with her colleagues to make your article available should you wish. If you haven't completed the paperwork for payment, the link is here:
I see on your blog, however, that you've given up due to frustration with the process and the inability of the service group to respond to your questions. I know they did the best they could. Please do let the journal manager know if you do indeed want to pursue the sponsored access option.
While I recognize your frustration, and I agree, I would feel the same, it's frustrating to those of us working on the journal that your blog has been wholly negative about JMB and has never acknowledged our correspondence or those of us working to resolve the difficulties you've had with your proofs.
Please let the journal manager and I know if you are indeed resolved not to move forward with the sponsored access.
Friendly Elsevier Publisher (name removed)
Dear Elsevier Publisher,
I have indeed abandoned my attempt to pay for open access to our article, entirely because of my frustration with the inability of the service person handing the transaction (name removed) to give a straight answer to any of my questions.
As I now think I understand the situation, most of the things she told me were not true. First, she said my purchase order could not be processed because my granting agency was not on the list. Then she said that my granting agency would not refund me the open access charge. I took care to make my questions very clear and simple, and each time she'd respond with boiler-plate statements that did not answer the questions and raised new confusion, and with referrals to largely irrelevant documents.
I don't think the fault can be all hers. The Elsevier sponsored-access system is confusing, the policy is not clearly explained, and the necessary information is hard to find.
The Journal of Molecular Biology is an excellent journal, and we're proud to have our article appear there. The submission and review process went very smoothly, the copy editing was very professionally done, and the 50 free offprints are a nice treat. But I feel strongly that taxpayer-supported research should be published where the taxpayers can see it, so I won't be submitting to any Elsevier journals in the future.
p.s. CIHR has never quibbled in the past about paying open access charges, and no concerns were raised when I included them as a line item in my grant budget.
p.p.s. I'll post this correspondence on my blog, with the names removed.