At face value, yelp seems to be a reputable review site. Please, beware of Yelp for choosing your plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, the community must beware of yelp because of its unethical standards. They claim to be an ethical review site, but they are immoral and driven only by their motivation to make money. Their immortality and money-driven motivation are inherent in their review presentation process and advertising policy.
This is apparent once you realize that the cherry-pick the reviews that they want you to see. If you are a Yelp user, you will observe that there are recommended and not recommended reviews. How interesting is this! Why would you think that some reviews are more important than others? Secondly, the reviews are not chronologically ordered. Why do you think that would be so?
Beware of Yelp Especially When Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon
The bottom line is that Yelp will artificially promote better reviews for its vendors that pay them money. The more money you pay them, the more positive reviews will be moved up to the more visible, recommended review list.
When you confront them about this policy they obviously deny it and make false pretenses regarding the fact that their algorithm supposedly assigns a higher value to the reviewer who has left more reviews or has a lot of followers. But this is absolutely untrue as we have found very active reviewers with lots of followers who left us a positive review pushed down into the not recommended group. Yet, a bad review, written by a reviewer who wrote the review over one year ago and who has not many followers at all, gets her review preserved in the recommended reviews category. Evidence is provided by the inappropriate reviewer recommended who has no activity on yelp nor any friends presented below.
Meanwhile, they harass you to advertise with them often calling you incessantly, multiple times per week and they use various phone numbers to call you from so that you will pick up your phone. They literally stalk you. When you refuse to advertise with them, all of a sudden more bad reviews are promoted up to the recommended review. Beware of Yelp for choosing your plastic surgeon.
To prove their money-hungry motivation and physician promotion protocol, we have observed that the plastic surgeons with supposed excellent reviews are those that advertise with Yelp. Shame on you Yelp. To prove this, we can look at my own review scenario. If you looked at my overall Yelp review score, you would see a 4.7 + rating, but if you actually read the promoted reviews, you would think that I must possess psychological pathology!
To make things even worse, I received a very concerning email which basically accused me of faking reviews and them punishing me with not being able to advertise with them. Ha Ha! Reverse psychology will not work with me. Let’s look at the email sent on 11/1/2019:
“We are writing with some disappointing news. Yelp has a program to alert consumers when someone appears to be trying to artificially inflate a business’s rating on Yelp. This program affects Arian Mowlavi, MD – The Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute, Laguna Beach, CA because, among other factors, a disproportionate number of positive reviews for your business originated from the same IP address. We only post these consumer alerts in a small handful of circumstances. We have already taken into consideration that you may offer wifi to your customers, and such an offering alone does not result in a consumer alert.”
Now let us look at what they have done to my listing:
In summary, they have targeted my account and made false claims that reviews left on my behalf were FAKE or artificial. More concerning is the Consumer Alert targeting! This presumption is based on their observation that a handful of reviews came from the same IP! The fact that we ask our patients to write reviews when they are at the office, should not be considered artificially inflating our reviews. Beware of Yelp!
The fact that we have a smart office that uses Ipad look at before and after photos, listen to their favorite music, or fill out reviews should not be considered artificial. Rarely, do patients ask to leave a review from one of these Ipads because they desire to leave reviews from their own phones or on their own personal time? Rarely, does a patient leave a review on our Ipads in the event that they have left their personal phone in their car, house, etc?
The fact that they are labeling us as immoral, is unethical and potentially litigious. This is especially concerning since, in lieu of the above correspondence, we have requested that our listing be removed from their platform but they won’t allow us to remove our listing from their site! They are in essence keeping us hostage.
Let us look at the concrete consequence of their “Consumer Alert,” targeting by acknowledging the recently recommended review for my practice. This reviewer was literally influenced by their warning posted on my account and left a poor review despite never establishing a patient-physician relationship or having had a procedure done.
Unfortunately, due to HIPPAA laws, I have no recourse as I cannot reply to the reviews without giving away personal information regarding their complaint. I am very troubled by their presumption that we are faking reviews because, in their words, we have SO MANY POSITIVE reviews. Is this a joke? Their presumption is that because a few patients may have used our in-office iPad to leave a review that they are all falsified! This is actually outrageous and based on an ASSUMPTION that they are making. Have they considered that some patients may not own a smartphone or usable computer at home? In summary, If you are a patient and are seeking to find qualified plastic surgeons in your community, beware of Yelp for choosing your plastic surgeon as a reputable web searching platform.