Dentist Who 'Invoiced' Patient For Negative Reviews, Getting Slammed On Yelp

from the these-things-have-a-way-of-coming-back dept

You may recall that, yesterday, we wrote about the class action lawsuit filed against dentist Stacy Makhnevich. Makhnevich used ethically and legally dubious forms from the organization Medical Justice, to demand the future copyrights on any reviews a patient might write about her. Then, she used the DMCA process to try to take down negative reviews on Yelp and DoctorBase. When that didn't work, she threatened the patient, Robert Lee, with a lawsuit, and started sending him invoices for infringement, at $100/day. None of this addressed Lee's original complaint -- that Makhnevich failed to submit the documents he needed to get reimbursed from his insurance company for an expensive procedure.

Of course, as with any typical Streisand Effect situation, all this ended up doing is leading to a hell of a lot more attention to the situation and the negative comments. But, these days, things can go even further than just driving more attention to content someone wanted disappeared. It can lead to even further backlash -- especially on sites involving reviews -- as we've seen with authors who get dinged for questionable actions. If you go take a look at Yelp's page for Stacy Makhnevich the one star reviews are flowing in... many of them calling her out for what she did. Oh, and Robert Lee's review, which kicked this whole mess off... is Yelp's "featured" review at the top of the page. Her current total review rating is at a star and a half. It used to be much, much better.
Some of the reviews are entertaining. I liked this one, which notes "I heard you have to bring your lawyer with you to the dentist's office."
For future reference, if you're that concerned with your online reviews, perhaps just do the best you can and respond to customer complaints promptly. Trying to whitewash complaints seems likely to backfire in big, bad way.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Andrew (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 6:35am

    Its actually dropping quite quickly...its down to like a star now.

    I don't know if people get the whole "Streisand Effect" and more people are learning the hard way. I don't have anything against this dentist but if this is how you treat your customers then good luck getting customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 6:52am

    I really would like to hear what this is all about from Stacey or someone in her office. Is it a case of several independent forces within her business that lead to all of these things (the sloppy paper work on the insurance, the invoices afterward, DMCA takedown attempts)? It's like they have it in for this guy which just doesn't make any sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    SomeGuy, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 6:58am

    Re:

    My prediction is that she just didn't do the paperwork, and either didn't care or wasn't able to fix it afterward. Then, pretty much completely separate from that, she participates in this scheme to "protect" her reputation online by making sure she has "legal" weapons to use against people who give her bad reviews. She got a bad review for a legitimate reason and

    here's the real point of the issue

    instead of going to the disgruntle patient and trying to resolve the situation, she started swinging legal muscle, working to remove the legitimate review and trying to intimidate the disgruntled patient. This is just bad behavior, and it doesn't matter what series of steps lead to that, this was not the correct response for her to take.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    LumpyDog (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Release the Krake - er - Internet!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    LumpyDog (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Release the Krake - er - Internet!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:11am

    I went to her Yelp page right after this story came out. At the time it looked like there were only three reviews on her. It looked like two of them were fake reviews written by someone on her staff as advertising fluff.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:16am

    Well at least she was getting some 5 star reviews for her physical attributes. Perhaps she can move to a modeling job as a result.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:18am

    Re: Or...

    Or stripper, never discount stripping! Those gals make some good money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Dr Evil, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:25am

    drill baby drill

    I for one, welcome my discount stripping, luxury dentist overlords.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:26am

    This is what happens, Larry, when you F*ck a Stranger is the A**!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:26am

    This is what happens, Larry, when you F*ck a Stranger in the A**!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:26am

    She can stick her hands in my mouth, if that's what's she's into.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:35am

    It gets better. From her practice's website:

    "Dr. Makhnevich is the Classical Singer Dentist of New York, a professional who provides high quality dentistry for musicians as well as the general public. A professional opera singer (you can listen to the famous “La Boheme” aria by clicking on this link) as well as a renowned stomatologist, she combines her extensive training in dentistry with her musical experience to cater to the very delicate needs of musicians, especially wind instruments musicians and classical singers."

    ROFLMAO

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:40am

    Re:

    To expand on my list of protips...
    Never use a Dentist who pimps her upcoming CD sales on her business website.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    gorehound (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:43am

    Re:

    +1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Trails (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    Some have claimed on Yelp to be dental professionals and that the fee charged for the service was exorbitant in the extreme. I have no knowledge of such matters hence cannot comment on those allegations, but it does cast a suspicious pall over why the paperwork never got done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re:

    She also violated HIPAA by handing out info on him trying to get the things taken down.
    She is going to have no idea what hit her.

    Hopefully she is a decent singer, because I think she is most likely done as a doctor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Steerpike (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:11am

    Go to the Yelp page, click on "Rating Details" and then look at the Ratings Over Time graph. It just looks hilarious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    That's kind of sad. The day my expectations get so low (for either dentistry or physical appearance) please kill me. She's just not that pretty. She may make a good stripper, but she'd probably try to sing during her performance which would kill the whole mood.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Keroberos (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:22am

    This one seems a little strange on a level that no one seems to have noticed. Insurance companies have contracted service rates that are lower than the normal service rates charged to people that have no insurance, if he was charged the full rate his insurance company would only cover up to the contracted rate leaving him paying the rest out of pocket. If I were in that situation it would raise quite a few red flags, unless it was an out of network provider, where you would have to file the insurance claim yourself, which does not appear to be the case here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:23am

    'Trying to whitewash complaints seems likely to backfire in big, bad way.'

    and suing customers will backfire in an even worse way. serves you right! you deserve to lose all customers with the attitude you have and the respect you dont have for your patients

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    She made sure she was paid by him.
    Then she managed to not submit the paperwork to the right insurance company so he could be reimbursed.
    Then when he asked for records to do it himself, she referred him to a company that wanted nearly $300 for the records, which seems to be a violation of the NY law about records requests.

    I am guessing this his how she operates, and leaves the patient to deal with being out all of the cash and trying to get anything back for what should have been covered in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    the vulture, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 8:55am

    Response to: Andrew on Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 6:35am

    I am strting to refuse to fill out medical forms. At one dr I gave a fake ss num and told them it was faked for privacy reasons. I was paying cash so no greedy parasite of an insurance company was involved. Hippa is a joke as far as protecting your privacy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: Response to: Andrew on Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 6:35am

    Has there ever been a regulation more typo'd than HIPAA?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Keroberos (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re:

    I know, I have never heard of a 3rd party bookkeeping/billing company charging a percentage of the bill for a copy of the records. That just takes the term "scam" to a whole new level.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    Looks like OotB went off his meds again AND forgot to log in!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 9:15am

    "This chick may be totally unethical but I give her 5 stars for her great set of tits."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 9:17am

    Re:

    She didn't sue though. Public Citizen launched a class action, not her.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 10:16am

    Honesty is the best policy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re:

    That's correct. She didn't sue, she just awarded herself a judgment of $100 for every day the negative review stayed up and started printing invoices.

    Oddly enough, suing would have been a more honorable route.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    sumquy (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 10:33am

    i actually feel really bad for this woman. undoubtedly she took some really questionable actions, but she is a dentist not a lawyer. when medical justice pitched her with this scam, it probably sounded like a really good idea. protect your reputation from those few nutjobs out there who are never satisfied no matter what you do. in hindsight it is easy to see how dumb this was, but you know the sales pitch for this service was intense. witness all the doctors who signed up with it. when you compound that, with the fact that her lawyer is an incompetent idiot who gave her the worst advice possible and this is what you get. But i ask you, honestly, is mob justice destroying her professional career really deserved?

    posted on yelp.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Why doesn't she just pay Yelp to take down the reviews?

    For a few hundred bucks a month Yelp will hide all the negative reviews. It seems she is leaving them up so she can invoice the $100 a day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 11:46am

    Show the Graph

    that one star pic is lame. Click ratings details. The graphs are where the lulz are at

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 11:51am

    There are two ways to have a pristine reputation.

    1) Always do the right thing, take proper care of your customers, provide a solid, reliable quality service and be friendly and professional.

    2) Pitch a fit when people say anything even slightly bad about you, throw the full weight of the law at them in an attempt to bury both them and their freedom of expression, seek gag orders in court and spend enormous sums on lawsuits seeking judgments the target will never be able to pay you.

    #1 is a lot cheaper and easier, but for some reason, most large companies go for #2 these days. More and more small businesses seem to be following the big companies lead. I get the distinct impression there was a run of very bad business model consultants somewhere, that somehow became viewed as the best in the business. So when the consultant(s) gave bad advice, every company followed it...and even though bad service has provable bad results, the companies are now in an Emperor's New Clothes situation, having spent fortunes for the bad advice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Transbot9, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    Never understood that about businesses - maybe it's ego that makes many businesses take the hard route. Or they consider it a "conflict of intrest."

    Happy customers make a company a LOT more money, especially in the long term, than unhappy ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    +2

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Glenn T, Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 10:44pm

    Yelp solution

    ANNOUNCEMENT: 

    We have recently implemented a system to outsmart yelp from hiding our filtered reviews. 

    The technique below has worked VERY WELL for us and some of the other budinesses who have already done what we have. 

    *** this works best for retailers, not restaurants***


    Step 1- first of all, if you’re currently advertising with yelp, stop doing so and shift that money to optimize your own web site for keywords that people will search for instead. 

    Step 2- Have a graphic designer make a yelp badge that is placed on your web site. It should say “we have …… filtered and unfiltered reviews on yelp”. 

    Step 3- When a visitor clicks on the yelp badge, it will go to another page ON YOUR OWN WEB SITE (instead of going to yelp’s. (why help them get traffic and rank higher on google anyways)? 

    Step 4- On this page have your graphic designer get a screen capture (picture) of all your filtered and unfiltered reviews and have them pasted together onto one page.

    Now, all your reviews (filtered or not) will be visible to all your web site visitors. 

    5- put a note on the top that says, “for your convenience we have placed all our filtered and unfiltered reviews on one page to see. If you’d like to go to our live yelp page, click here …………”

    Make the whole page clickable to your live yelp page  so no-one will think you’re trying hide something or to be dishonest 

    Advantages of doing this: 

    1- Your visitors will stay on your web site instead of being directed to yelp’s

    2- Your visitors can’t click on your competitors 

    3- No more being a slave to yelp’s algorithm/filtering 

    4- Yelp would not benefit from getting traffic from you and higher rankings on google 

    5- This whole process cost us less than $150 to implement 


    This technique WILL NOT work for your business if your web site is not SEO optimized. 

    Just be sure to shift that $300 per month on yelp advertising and put it into KEYWORDS that people will search for. 

    Please pass this along

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 3rd, 2011 @ 12:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    She was using a form provided by a service to help her "protect" herself and never bothered to google the company name to see that they are a laughing stock.

    She doesn't strike me as someone who thinks things through and just likes to get paid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 3rd, 2011 @ 12:21am

    Re:

    The fact the fee might have been hugely out of line, that she refused to take the bill to the insurance carrier, made him pay out of pocket, then failed to bill the right insurance carrier or provide the information for him to be reimbursed, then sent him to her representative who demanded even more money because she was unable to actually do the paperwork. This representative might be operating in violation of the law of the State of NY, the fact she packed up a bunch of HIPAA "protected" data with her demands for removal, and then sent him bills for the post being there...
    Yeah I think her Yelp rep being trashed is hardly enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Margaret, Dec 3rd, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Re: Yelp solution

    Thank you for this post....I have seen it many times on many comments. I have taken your advice. I have 20 4-5 star reviews that have been filtered.... then let the few negative ones unfiltered (and a bogus negative one. Keep up the good work

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Or...

    You are not making justice to your screen name.

    Lobo Santo = Saint Wolf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Re:

    Define pristine?

    Pristine as in 100% good, because that is impossible, you can get pass the 60% mark and call it pristine, the higher it goes the more difficult it becomes.

    There will always be something outside of the control of oneself that will make it hard to achieve a 100% point over the fourth dimension(aka time).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Dec 4th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Or...

    I disagree, St. Wolf is a great stripper name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Dec 4th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not suggesting anything she did was honourable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:06am

    "Weird Al"'s "Cavity Search" comes to mind for some reason. Numb me, drill me, floss me, bill me...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Robert Lee, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    According to the insurance company she is a participating provider at a level which requires her to submit the claim on my behalf and accept what they give her as full payment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    boblee52 (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Yup she broke about 10 laws according to what my lawyers listed in the court filing: http://www.citizen.org/documents/Lee-v-Makhnevich-complaint.pdf

    Excerpts from the NYSDA "Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct" Page 5:

    "1-B. Patient Records. Patients are entitled to copies of their records.
    On receipt of a patient’s written request, a
    dentist must provide her/him with copies of all pertinent
    records including radiographs, except as otherwise provided by state law.
    The confidentiality of patient records must be maintained."

    "4. A dentist shall not withhold copies of records from
    patients based on the patient owing any balance to the
    dentist or the patient not paying any copying charges. A
    dentist may charge a fee for copying patient records, but
    shall not charge more than the actual cost of copying, and
    shall never charge more than 75 cents per page for paper
    copies, in accordance with state law."

    http://www.nysdental.org/img/document_files/code_of_ethics2010.pdf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    boblee52 (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    And one major thing that was left out of the press release, the whole reason I had to go to a lawyer was that she had her lawyers threaten to sue me for over $120,000 plus expenses, on top of the $100/day invoices they were sending me.

    If they had just submitted it to the insurance company, or sent me the records to do it myself, and I got reimbursed $200 or whatever I would have just said "Boy did I get screwed." and that would have been the end of it. I still can't comprehend what the hell they were thinking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    boblee52 (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    forgot this one:

    "3. Copies of records shall be provided by dentists to patients
    within a reasonable time, not to exceed ten days from the
    date of a patient’s written request."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    dentists in burbank, Jan 29th, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Haha, funny yelp review!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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