Online retailer ordered to pay $306,750 for suing a bad reviewer

According to BBC, Online retailer KlearGear has been ordered to pay $306,750 (£180,000) to a couple it has had a long-running dispute with over a bad review.

This case is an interesting one with the amount of merchandise in question being less than $20. However the legal costs probably run into the thousands if not more.
The case not only highlights freedom of speech and the ability to write online reviews on one hand but also the opposing viewpoint where the retailer argues that the customer wanted free merchandise or else they would defame them.

The intricate details of this case will probably never be know but the “extortion” angle could be valid and probably happens a lot more than we think it does.

An interesting question for our customers –

What would you do if a patient or client threatened to write a bad review unless you waived their copay or bill?

Physicians and Dentists probably will have a very different answer than lawyers.

Doctor’s opinion of review and rating websites

idea_128x128If you are privy to the discussions doctors have about topics that affect their profession and medicine, there are a few things that they agree on. Some of them are listed below in no particular order:

  1. They don’t like the Affordable Care Act (ACA or PPACA or Obamacare) and the intrusion of government into medicine in general
  2. They don’t like Hospital administrators
  3. They don’t like Nurse Practitioners and Physician assistants masquerading as “doctors”
  4. They don’t like being called “Providers”
  5. They don’t like Insurance companies and Medicare or Medicaid
  6. They don’t like Maintenance of certification scams perpetuated by the various boards “certifying” them.
  7. And they don’t like “Online Review websites” (yelp, healthgrades, ratemds and more listed here)

You would wonder what do they like. That list is very small but important.

They like to take care of their patients and they would love to spend more time with them and less on mundane government regulated paperwork.

If you are a patient, that is great news, but the sad part is that most patients do not go online to write a review for the doctor that saved their life or healed them.

All the doctors focus are on bad reviews despite good deal of evidence at Reputer and elsewhere that most reviews are positive.

So what is a good doctor supposed to do. There are a few categories of physicians and how they tackle online reviews

  1. The “Ostrich approach” – they bury their heads in the sand and ignore the problem or missed opportunity (depends on how you look at it – glass half full or half empty)
  2. The “I hate review sites” doctors – most of them have heard from others how these sites are all bad, they probably haven’t gone online and even “googled” their name, but have an opinion alright.
  3. The “business savvy physician” – they actively monitor and encourage online reviews – some have hundreds of reviews online and based on our monitoring services some get multiple reviews every week

What category do you fit in and is there any other category – write away in the comments.

Right to be forgotten – helpful tool for online reputation management

Google Plus IconAs part of a court ruling, Google finally did implement a rudimentary form available here that allows people to remove information about them from Google search results.
This can be a great tool for removing those pesky bad things about you or hopefully your business from the gateway to the Internet (Google).

However, once you do read the details, Google, in the interest of preventing abuse (presumably of their power, not the actual functionality) has made the requirements for removal pretty high.
They require a government issued id to be uploaded as a proof.

They also reserve the right to accept or reject your request in the somewhat ambiguous terminology.

we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information.

Leaving the assessment up to Google (but of course!).

Regardless of the restrictions and the final assessment being up to google, it is a great first step towards helping genuine people with real issues in online reputation management.

This whole ruling came as a surprise to many but it is a great step in starting this debate about how the “Internet never forgets”

photo by: dolphinsdock

Doctors Check Online Ratings From Patients and Make Changes –

RatingAccording to the Wall Street Journal article yesterday the ACA (ObamaCare) is making an impact on how the newly insured find their doctors.

According to a Caduceus Medical, a 20-doctor family-medicine practice in Orange County, Calif – they called it a “game changer”

Full quote below

Dr. DeNicola says new patients are now coming to the practice because of positive online reviews, particularly with many people newly insured through the Affordable Care Act. The review sites are “helping us a lot,” he says. “When we decided to quit ignoring it and embraced it, it totally changed the game.”

via Doctors Check Online Ratings From Patients and Make Changes –

photo by: jvleis

Difference between Online Reputation Management and Online Reputation Monitoring

They are the same – right? – Read on to find the difference

Online reputation I am sure you have heard ads on TV or the Radio about “Credit Repair” outfits – “Eliminate your Debt”, “Consolidate your payments to a low monthly amount”. We have all heard these “Too good to be true” pitches.

As someone wiser than me said – If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

We all know this and yet we still cling to hope – what if it really is too good and what if it is true.

What does “Credit Repair” have to do with “Online Reputation Management” – they sound and promise something similar and they use similar and questionable techniques to achieve their promised goals.

Holding hostages and Extortion

Their promises come with a dark side.  If you decide to take this leap to the dark side, beware that you could be held hostage to your own desire to look better online like so many cases out there. A recent example is about a Texas man who extorted money out of his former clients who had hired him to “fix” their online reputation.

If they can fix it, they sure can ruin it too. But for a small fee, they can make it all go away – we have heard that one before.

Don’t land in trouble with the law by employing such techniques or worse, pay people who use such illegal methods to “manage your online reputation”. Such companies do charge thousands of dollars to “fix” your online reputation – promising to drive down bad reviews, get you better (and fake) reviews generated by some poor slobs overseas.

Don’t fall for all this – stay on the right side of the law.

If you don’t believe this happens, Google for “reputation management scam” and find out for yourself. Or even go to ripoffreport for some more information.

Online Reputation Monitoring is like a Credit Monitoring service

I am sure you must have heard of Credit Monitoring services from the various credit bureaus like Equifax, Transunion etc or service providers like LifeLock.

These services (for a monthly fee) keep monitoring your credit file and alert you when someone or some company makes inquiries on your credit or tries to apply for a credit card or loan using your social security number. Most people agree that it is worth a few dollars a month to keep track of this service and there are no scams, no lofty promises, just a simple way to alert you of any changes that may be bad for your credit history and score.

These service are a simple insurance – that’s all. They buy you some piece of mind that your business is not impacted financially and that you are not losing customers as more people go online before they walk in to a business.

Online Reputation Monitoring works exactly the same way – we make no promises that we will fix your online reputation or online presence. We just monitor your online presence and alert you of any changes to your “online score” (just like a credit score) or “online profile” (just like your credit history).

So how do I fix my online profile and reputation?

We will talk about legal ways of improving your online profile in the next post at

photo by: krossbow

Popular review and ratings sites on Bing search

Yes, we all know Bing has a smaller market share compared to the big gorilla Google. But sometimes we all wonder how it is like to just Bing It! – right? (well maybe not).

There still are people out there who don’t know how to change their default search engine (yes – really). They are stuck with what their computer vendor gave them – maybe a Dell, HP, Toshiba or Lenovo default home page.

Or maybe their search page is hacked and they always like to make their evil hacker friend some money through their search engine redirection.

If you did use Bing, and were a doctor, dentist or a health professional trying to monitor their online reputation, you would see the following review and rating websites rank consistently high in the search engine results.

Here are some insights on who is popular on Bing in a nice pie chart

In order of popularity here they are again:

Writing Fake online reviews is illegal – fines of $350,000

According to a press release from the New York attorney general’s office 19 companies agreed to pay fines totaling $350,000 for either writing or asking “online reputation management” companies to write fake and glowing online reviews for them.

Reputer has clearly cited the pitfalls of “reputation management” versus “reputation monitoring” and this latest judgement is a ringing endorsement to the path we have chosen.

The list of companies that are part of this “Operation Clean Turf” are:

  1. A&E Wig Fashions, Inc. d/b/a A&E and NYS Surgery Center
  2. A.H. Dental P.C. d/b/a Platinum Dental
  3. Body Laser Spa Inc.
  4. The Block Group, LLC, d/b/a Laser Cosmetica and LC MedSpa, LLC
  5. Bread and Butter NY, LLC d/b/a La Pomme Nightclub and Events Space
  6. Envision MT Corp.
  7. iSEOiSEO
  8. Medical Message Clinic and
  9. Metamorphosis Day Spa, Inc.
  10. Outer Beauty, P.C., Lite Touch Plastic Surgery, P.C., Staten Island Special Surgery, P.C., Sans Pareil Surgical, PLLC
  11. Stillwater Media Group
  12. Swan Media Group, Inc. and Scores Media Group, LLC
  13. US Coachways Limousine, Inc. and US Coachways, Inc.
  14. Utilities International, Inc. d/b/a Main Street Host
  15. The Web Empire, LLC
  16. Webtools, LLC and Webtools Internet Solutions Ltd.
  17. West Village Teeth Whitening Service, LLC; Magic Smile, Inc., aka Magic Smile
  18. XVIO, Inc.
  19. Zamdel, Inc. d/b/a eBoxed

More information about this press release can be found here

Ratings distribution for physician review sites

As a follow up to the distribution of ratings for physicians on ZocDoc a commenter had an excellent question on how that compares to the rest of the doctor/physician review sites out there such as the usual suspects – healthgrades, vitals, ucomparehealthcare and all the rest in the latest Top 10.

We ran some numbers and here is how the distribution looks like.

Interestingly, we dont see a lot of 2/5 ratings (hardly any), but a lot of 4/5 ratings but not an overwhelming number of 5/5 as is the case in ZocDoc land.

What is your interpretation of these results? Type your comments below.

Latest Top 10 Physician sites on Search engines

We have expanded our coverage to the rest of the popular search engines and here are the latest Top 10  sites that show up in search engine listings when looking for physicians.

The one notable new entry is that Facebook seems to come up more frequently now.