Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hush little baby don't say a word

This is one of those weeks where getting out of bed, getting ready and getting to work by 9am seems like an insurmountable task EVERY SINGLE DAY. I like my job, it's just that it seems like an awful lot of effort to get there each day. (I'm working on getting them to allow me to work from home once a week but the wheels of HR move slowly and at a tiny company, there are more pressing things to address in the near-term. I get that.)

On Sunday while shopping with Wendi I consumed an excess of both sugar and caffeine, which resulted in me trying to fall asleep unsuccessfully from 10pm to 2am. So Monday was a rough day at work and when I got home, I just wanted to eat the nice steak TJ prepared for us on our much-adored George Foreman Grill, zone out to some tv and hop into bed.

Instead, the minute I walk into the kitchen we get a phone call. I don't usually answer the phone at home since our signal to noise ratio is pretty low. But sadly, I chose to.

The woman on the line identified herself as a dentist I went to once a few years ago.

Background: I went there because a friend wanted the referral credit to get some free service and it was one of those plushy and spa-like place so I figured I'd give it a shot. This dentist gave me a very alarming diagnosis of my teeth and how I needed extensive jaw surgery or else my face would start to cave in and look old, because of my teeth grinding issues. She also said the mouthguard I was given by my old dentist would make my problem worse. I left the office pretty shaken, since no other dentist had *ever* told me this stuff and went promptly back to my previous one, who reassured me my teeth were fine and healthy. So needless to say, I never went back to Scary Dentist.

Back to the present. It took me a few minutes to comprehend why she was calling me - she started ranting at me about an online review I had written on InsiderPages and how it offended her and defamed her etc. She just kept ranting. I tried to get a word in edgewise, and I was already annoyed due to my lack of sleep coupled with the ranting, so finally, I told her I didn't have time to listen to this and hung up on her.

Aside: I'm more than a little peeved that she used my dental records to find my phone number and call me about this matter. My review online only had my first name and last initial, but of course, my name isn't Bob so it was probably trivial to track me down in the patient records.

About a minute after I hung up the phone rang again. This time TJ answered and got an earful and some legal threats. He's much nicer and calmer than I am in aggressive situations, so he calmly told her he would talk to me and got off the phone with her.

So we're just sitting there stunned. I wrote the review in 2005, for a dentist visit in 2004. And she's calling me about in January 2008? I guess she just discovered the Internet or something. Also, isn't it a better idea, if you're going to call a dissatisfied customer, to try and find out what the issue was instead of yelling at them? I can only imagine if Microsoft called its dissatisfied customers and ranted at them. That would win them a lot of business, I'm sure.

So given that it's been 3 freakin' years since I wrote the review I went to look it up. It wasn't that bad (even for me!) and there was another review by someone else backing up exactly what I had said. That poor person also had an unusual name, so I guess she probably got a nasty phone call too.

And then, using the power of Google, I searched for this dentist on other popular review sites and what I saw completely floored me. My little review was tame compared to some of what's out there. (And now that I look I'm noticing some of the really inflammatory ones have been pulled. Which is a bummer.) People talked about shady business practices, complaints to the dental commission, and huge bills not covered by insurance. So I definitely got lucky by just walking away.

Now I'm not a rich dentist in private practice, and I like my assets just fine, thank you, so I'm a little worried about this. While I really do believe in freedom of speech and the general usefulness of online reviews, I'm not willing to stand up for this and risk that I might get sued. Though I'm guessing the statute of limitations in Washington has long expired. So I removed my review just in case. And left in its place a note about how I was threatened with legal action. I'm sure the site will delete it soon, but it gives me some small measure of satisfaction that at least a few people will see it.

The most awesome thing ever is the fact that mysteriously, *very* favorable, glowing reviews have popped up on all three review sites, identically cut and pasted, yesterday. They also take pains to mention that the other reviewers must be awful people to "defame" the dentist like that. Which is just hilarious when you know the backstory. I wonder if it's hard for one dentist to maintain all those different profiles on those sites. (Yeah, I'm talkin' to you, "Dean from Medina".)

Anyway, the moral of my story is this: if you're going to post Internet reviews, and I recommend you do, to help people out, post anonymously or use a common name. I am probably way too free about posting my own name all over the Internet and this has been a great lesson for me to be just a bit more careful. There are a lot of nuts out there. Word to your mother.

TJ's lesson learned from this: Don't go to the dentist. :)


  1. W - O - W. That is seriously nuts. There are clearly some other issues going on with that dentist; sucks that she had to drag you down into it. The whole thing seems wrong on so many levels...thank god you didn't buy into her bull in the first place!

  2. TJ is probably right.

    I'm getting ready for a business trip and I've had a toothache the last few days. I discovered yesterday that it was a loose tooth so I just grabbed my pliers and pulled it. No dentist needed.

    Note - I do go to a dentist but there are some things you can do yourself (root canal isn't one of them).

  3. Honestly, in this case, I would have been fine to leave the review up. It wasn't that bad, it was 2.5 years old, and I don't like being bullied out of a reasonable opinion. But it's probably simpler this way. ... Of course, you could file a grievance with the dentist association.

  4. What craziness! I'm wondering if you would even have anything to worry about. Is that enough for a legal case?? I'm doubtful (then again, I'm no lawyer) Maybe you should come to Maryland for your dental needs... :) Oh and tell TJ he shouldn't stop going to the dentist.

  5. I found your blog post via Google blog search while searching for Teeth Grinding and your post regarding “Hush little baby don't say a word” looks very interesting to me and it is also very creative. I have a teeth website of my own and I must say that your blog is really good. Keep up the great work on a really high class resource.

    In order to better cope with teeth grinding you may try some relaxation techniques and see how you sleep afterwards; yoga and breathing exercises could be of real help. Don't rush to administrate any drugs since teeth grinding could be dealt with otherwise too, and in far more natural ways. Have a look on the Internet, or talk to a therapist about the best ways to induce a relaxation state. Most people who have listened to soothing music, used aromatherapy or taken a long relaxing bath before going to bed, have shown significant improvement in the bruxism condition.

  6. Now come on - where's that fighting spirit. I would have hung up and posted a comment outlining the call I just had. I mean really....the nerve.

    And apparently she missed the point that reviews are "opinions" not the freakin' bible.

  7. @Jenna - yes, I'm really glad I didn't go back to that office.

    @Marshall - are you the same person I know? You really pulled out your tooth with pliers? How scary/brave!

    @tj - yessir, i sure will!

    @bean - I wish we could handle all our dental stuff through you. I suppose we could - it's only once a year, right?

    @jenn - You and I had the same thought - I updated my little online review...

  8. I rarely post reviews of things--despite some friends of mine going on & on about Yelp. But wow, when I do I think I'm going to go by Amy.

    I make a point of *not* using my last name in most online non-transaction related stuff but yeah, it obviously isn't hard to track someone down when they're not a 'Jennifer' or 'Sarah.' Pretty scary & messed up.

  9. Truth is pretty much always a defense against libel in the US. "Opinion" can't lead to libel. So if your facts check out, then your fine. Lawyers don't like to take on libel suits because they're difficult to win.

    Also note that your homeowners insurance may cover you (seriously! google it!)

  10. Yep, I'm the same one you know.

    I still keep track of your blog.


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