Guest Opinions

Online reviews can be major pain for businesses in Idaho, elsewhere

Recently I was contentedly looking at my emails. I had just had a great experience helping a patient, and he left a happy man. Then I found out we had received another negative review online. Now I was upset.

Why as a society do we permit this kind of thing? I mean, if the review had been truthful, and we had maliciously injured someone, I would not object, we would deserve it. But that is not, and never has been, the case. I am a dentist. I am in the practice of dentistry because I desire to serve my patients in a way that can make a difference. Yes, I am in it for the money, too. But I have worked hard to acquire the skills to address the many issues I see in people’s mouths. Believe it or not, I (and most other dentists, physicians, and tradesmen who rely on good reputations) love my patients. I want to be equitable in all I do. I truly want to be a caring friend to my patients.

Often, negative comments come from people who have been in our office only one time seeking a bargain. They have responded to an advertisement and are disgruntled because what they expected for their visit was more than what was really being offered. Other times, people leave negative comments because they are in debt to us and resent it. Sometimes it is people seeking drugs and are denied them. There are many reasons, but generally it is malicious people who exaggerate minor things into serious accusations and falsehoods. The people that are reading these preposterous half-truths and lies are just people trying to find a dentist. It is a tragedy that there is no way for the consumer to sort out who the liars and defamers are and which are legitimate complaints. I have to say that most negative comments I have seen simply can’t be trusted.

Why is this allowed to happen? It is because the people doing it can do it without fear of reprisal. It is cost prohibitive to sue them. If a dentist puts a rebuttal on the sight, HIPAA regulations prevent him from being specific, so he/she is unable to address the real issue. This makes the dentist sound weak and guilty.

This is a call to the public. The only thing we can do to counter these malicious acts is for you who care about your dentist and want him/her to be able to continue to give you good care to speak up. It takes at least five good reviews to counter one negative review. If you receive good service from your dentist, another professional, or tradesman, take a little time to go online and tell people about it. We must have your support. Until legislation to stop this type of fraud and defamation is passed, I urge you good people to help us by posting positive comments. Thank you.

R. Russell Burt, D.D.S., graduated from Creighton University School of Dentistry in 1989. He practiced dentistry for 18 years in Blackfoot prior to moving to Boise, where he has been in practice for the past year and a half.