Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Dental Spam Response Part 2: "I understand you have an opinion, but I am respectfully asking that you . . ."

You can see Part 1 of this here.
The original post about the spam is here.

The first response to the post from the dentist was a threat of legal action. I sent a response to the threat [in Part 1] via email Tuesday night - a week ago.  Wednesday morning there was an 8:04am email waiting for me. 
I am proactively looking into why this happened in the first place as I was not aware that the SEO company that we work with was doing this. The internet, though, is a free market and what they did is completely legal. If it was a problem that you didnt want this comment on your log, it would have been as simple as to call my office and request that we take it down or like your website states“Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. . . Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers(my call) will be deleted.” It seems that you are going completely out of your way to make calls to the local paper and have a reporter check into it and waste your time. The first line of your blog states that "..I have better things to do than this, but I can't help it." but it doesnt seem that way. I appreciate that you are educating people about this matter but I do not want my practice specifically mentioned as your comments about sleezy dentist and XXXXXX Dental Arts can be easily misconstrued by any patient or potential patient of mine. I understand you have an opinion, but I am respectfully asking that you take the  XXXXXXX Dental Arts name out of your blog.

"It started out as a snarky post about a tacky dentist. Now I'm not sure how tacky the dentist is..." -This negative opinion has no baring and is not helpful and doesn't compare at all to your example of diagnosing a cavity
"They are a tacky, factory dental clinic that will do whatever it takes to get customers." -All of this information is deduced from from one comment on one blog?
"I still think there are signs of tackiness here on the dentist's part - the long hours, the heavy push on SEO, including a staff member who knows the term, and the multiple offices in the area." We have long hours as to accommodate patients at all times due to the patient population that we see. We are one of only 3 medicaid providers in the greater XXXXXXX area. There are about 140 dentists in the area that do not take insurance or only take a few of the best insurances. I pride myself and my practice on the ability to see all of these lower middle class and low income families that nobody else wants see because of the very low insurance reimbursement. This is in no way tacky. Also, my marketing team is very familiar with the term SEO as they should be considering that is what their job And Im not sure what multiple offices in the area means either since this is my only practice.
These are just a few of the things that are offensive and untrue. I do not want them associated with any names at my practice or the name of my practice. Otherwise, say what you want but I hope this is a lesson to you that things aren't always what they seem.


I took some time to think about it.  I'd like to think I'm not into win-lose type competition.  Most situations can be imagined in new ways that allow everyone to come out ok, if not well.  What did he want?  What did I want?  Most of what I wanted had already happened.  We'd moved from "Take this down or I'll sue" to "I'm respectfully asking . . ."

But underlying that, and even more important, we went from trying to use power to get one's way to using reason and persuasion to work out an acceptable solution for us both. 

I don't agree with everything said in the email.  I didn't make statements as much as speculate possibilities, for example.  But I don't need to quibble with him about the details. [Readers can read the original post and then Part 1 of this post to see for themselves.] 

And he made some good points.  Do I have an invalid stereotype about chain dentists just being out to make money? I even said "factory dentists."  But if one moves from the professional model of dentistry to the business model, then one moves from the polite to the rough and tumble, including occasional bad reviews.  But dentists always had to run a business as well as care for their patients.  And I certainly think assisting medicaid patients is a good thing but it's not without risks. I heard many tales from my mother who worked in a doctor's office about how medicaid (and medicare) often didn't cover the doctor's expenses and how easy it is to get in trouble over paperwork mistakes.

Am I biased because all my life I've only gone to small private dental offices that got patients through word of mouth, not a marketing team?  Does that mean that there aren't other legitimate models?  I don't need a fight with a  Dental Center in the Eastern time zone.  I made my point that businesses should be careful about hiring sleazy SEO operations.  (BTW, the original post collected two more dental spam comments and I had to delete two comments from an airport taxi service.) There's no real need to have a particular dentist's name in the post. (The one dentist whose spam/comment to this post I left as an example, put his own name there.)

I sent the new email to my attorney and proposed that I would delete references to the specific dentist office and town, but add the follow up emails.  I didn't hear from my attorney. [I just found his quick Wednesday response in my spam folder.] I did see him at the film festival though on Monday.

I told him the dentist had called me that morning (I wish East Coast people would check time zones before calling Alaska.)  We had a pleasant conversation and I spelled out my proposal and he was agreeable as long as his name was left out of things.

So, we each got what we wanted through civil rational discussion.  Neither of us will have to pay for an expensive legal battle.  Both of us are satisfied with the resolution. 

I will quibble on one point.  I simply called a reporter in his area to find out if this dental center had a reputation or not since I had no local connections I could check with.  I wasn't trying to stir up trouble.  

On the blogging side, yes, we have the First Amendment that allows us to say quite a bit.  But just because we have the right doesn't mean we should always use it.  We should be mindful of the unnecessary harm we can cause others.  There should be a good reason for inconveniencing (or worse) others in our exercise of free speech.  And there are also times when we need to hold our ground.  I respect a dentist willing to care for this medically under served population and I have no reason to disbelieve what he says.

Thanks, Dr. XXX for engaging me civilly.  I learned something through this, and I hope that you've  taken something positive from this as well. 

And other bloggers, you might want to consider joining a blogging association if only to get some coverage for unanticipated legal expenses. [I tried getting a link to the Media Bloggers website, but I got "Forbidden" messages.]


  1. Amen. Now how do we get our government to understand this?

  2. This is a satisfying end, I think, but we must not forget that this blog is your own "space" and the story began when an "invader" not called came in.


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