Bad reviews are a problem for all service industries, and with the rise of the Internet and the many different review sites, it's easier than ever for a disgruntled, curmudgeonly customer to spread his vitriolic opinion to a wide audience. This can result in people behaving badly. It can, of course, also be a good thing.
I'm not only a veterinarian. I'm a customer. In the past mumbletymumble years of my adulthood, I've read lots of reviews. Restaurant reviews, house painter reviews, hotel reviews, plumber reviews, contractor reviews, cleaning service reviews, and yes - of course veterinarian reviews. It's the rare service provider who never, EVER, reads the competition's reviews, let alone his or her own reviews.
I appreciate that these reviews exist, but - well - as a customer, it's clear to me that not all reviews are honest. There are those who have a vested interest in making the reviewed party look good - either because they are a family member, or in their employ, or otherwise connected to them - and there are those who have a vested interest in making the reviewed party look bad - because they are in direct competition with them and are unethical, or because for whatever reason they had a negative experience that left them feeling angry or sad or whatever. It's that last type that really cuts to the bone.
I once read a review of my own self. That's right. I went to a local review site, and there it was. "VBB Vet Hospital - Dr. VBB." The review - which gave me one star out of a possible six - read (and I am paraphrasing, having no desire to reread it at this or any other time) "I took my dog Spanky* to Dr. VBB at the VBB Vet Hospital last week. First of all, the place is totally gross. It smelled like shit. Probably because there was a dog who had diarrhea in the waiting room. Someone came and took the dog away right after that, and then they mopped it up, but what the hell? I had to sit in that waiting room and wait to be seen and it was REALLY STINKY! Plus, who knows what germs were spreading around when they mopped. They probably didn't even use disinfectant. I don't think the doctor knew what he was doing. He asked me a lot of questions that didn't even have to do with why we came in as far as I could tell. Then he didn't even know what was wrong and wanted to run a LOT of expensive tests. He did say we could try some medicine, but he wasn't sure if it would work. What good is that then? Overall, I'd say - stay away. You can do better. The vet at ABC Vet Hospital up the street is cheaper, and their parking lot is bigger. Go there instead."
Now, when you read something like this, your natural response if you are like me is to want to immediately write a rebuttal. OF COURSE we use disinfectant! OF COURSE copious diarrhea leaves a lingering smell that no amount of air freshener will cover up immediately. It's GOOD MEDICAL PRACTICE to take a detailed history, and diagnosis can rarely be made with any certainty in the absence of diagnostic testing! My diagnostic testing fees are not overpriced - I use the same lab most of the other vets use and have LESS of a markup than is typical in the industry! And it is NOT MY FAULT the township keeps denying us a permit to increase the size of the &*$W@&! parking lot!!!
I recommend against this. It usually does not even help. I find that the people who write these reviews, honestly, are rarely influential in the community. As it happens, I was lucky - when I checked the review site again three weeks later (which, I know - just say no!), several of my happier clients had responded to that reviewer, even more vehemently than I would have, had I been able to explain myself without sounding like a big whiner. The good reviews are a balm to the soul (but for me - it's not even worth it to go looking for them, and risk seeing a bad one that keeps me up nights for weeks on end!)
Who else has felt the pain of the bad review?