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.

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Comments on “Dentist Who 'Invoiced' Patient For Negative Reviews, Getting Slammed On Yelp”

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the vulture says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: 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.

lucidrenegade (profile) says:

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.”


Keroberos (profile) says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: 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.

boblee52 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yup she broke about 10 laws according to what my lawyers listed in the court filing:

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.”

sumquy (profile) says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Bergman (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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).

Glenn T (profile) says:

Yelp solution


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

boblee52 (profile) says:

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.

MD says:

This situation goes two ways… the patients are entitled to freedom of speech, and the doctors the right to refuse service. If you are concerned of poor reviews, a valuable opinion that is shared based on an individuals experience, and often taken into consideration by others seeking services, then now is a good time for you to have a self review and make honest attempts to address the concerns of your patients. Unfortunately, as intelligent as most of these doctors have to be to become doctors, they are too ignorant to see that prior to their unreasonable, unethical, and childish reactions, have exceeded their town to now be rated by non-patients. GROW UP DOC, either try to do better or go into another field. You can’t please everybody, but if a majority of your reviews are complaints, then maybe there is substance to it.

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