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Yelp lawsuit lands dentist one-star reviews
In this dentist office, anything you say and Yelp can be used against you in a court of law.
After a dentist allegedly fined a patient for posting a negative review of her on Yelp, hundreds of users of the social-reviews site struck back the only way they can: with an onslaught of one-star reviews.
According to a lawsuit filed earlier this week by patient Robert Lee, Manhattan dentist Stacy Makhnevich requires patients to sign a form that “waives any right to comment publicly on or evaluate” her services.
When Lee was unhappy with his experience, he ignored the waiver and took to Yelp:
“Avoid at all cost! Scamming their customers! Overcharged me by about $4000 for what should have been only a couple hundred dollar procedure. Refuses to submit the claim to my insurance company. When asked for records to submit the claim myself they referred me to a 3rd party that wants 5% of the bill ($268) to get the records for me. By law the dentist must give me the records within 10 days of written request at a cost of no more than 75 cents per page. Lawsuit to be filed soon.”
According to the lawsuit, Makhnevich responded by sending Lee daily $100 invoices for breach of contract.
The only review on Makhnevich’s Yelp page filed before the suit was a five-star rave. Twenty-two other reviews, all ranking four or five stars, were also written but have been flagged by Yelp’s filter system and an additional six reviews, all five stars, have been removed for violating Yelp’s terms of service.
Yelp developed the filter system to help detect and remove reviews potentially fraudulent or purchased. That’s one of the main tools the social network has used to grow over the years. As reported by the company last month, Yelp received 22 million reviews in September alone and featured 61 million unique features.
Since news of the lawsuit broke out, however, 277 Yelp users have logged in to give her a one-star review. The majority don’t claim to have ever visited her, but rather desire simply to pass judgement.
“Won’t let me enter zero stars, so I’ll be generous,” wrote Tristan L. from Chicago.
“My Wife is a Dentist. If she ever practiced like Dr. Makhnevich I would divorce her immediately,” said James Y. in Delray Beach, FL.
A few users criticized those who gave poor reviews to someone they’d never met.
“Please, disregard all the bad reviews by people who HAVE NO IDEA who this doctor is,” said Lauren T. in Brooklyn. “YELP must remove the bad reviews IMMEDIATELY, it is pure defamation of character.”
While Yelp’s filter system will likely flag and remove the flurry of negative comments, some users still claimed a small victory.
“I hope you learned a good lesson from all this. He left you one bad review. How many bad reviews do you have now?” asked Naomi G., in Renton, Washington. “Can you count them? You clearly cannot sue all of us.”
A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.