This pretty much sums it up, but there were many interesting nuggets to be found as well..hell there are so many goodies I hardly know where to start..
Why Georgia Dentist Mitul R. Patel is getting introduced to Barbara Striessand:
Just made public today by Paul Levy of Public Citizen the story of Mitul R. Patel’s bullshit complaint to Yelp in regards to a negative review, and the sneaky under-handed way in which he did this. ( Can anyone say “Fraud”, “Forgery” or “Perjury”)
Matthew Chan, a resident of Columbus, Georgia, posted a series of reviews (for example, on Yelp) complaining that Mitul Patel, a dentist in Suwannee, Georgia, had induced Chan to visit his office by advertising an inexpensive dental cleaning deal. However, Chan reported that he was confronted with a hard pitch for additional, more expensive services, and Patel allegedly lost interest in providing the cleaning when Chan was not agreeable to buying additional services. I am in no position to say whether Chan’s criticisms of Patel are fair or accurate, but Patel’s sneaky response to the criticism, instead of just suing his detractor in the Georgia courts, tends to suggest that Chan might well have reason to complain.
Apparently the owner of Family & Cosmetic Dental Care, Mitul R. Patel, located at 2627 Peachtree Pkwy, Suite 440
Suwanee, GA 30024 did not like Matthew’s review for some reason and not only sought but succeeded ( at least temporarily) to have said review removed from several online review sites. Interestingly some quick research reveals many 1 star reviews, mostly claiming the same tactics of upselling dental services, which poses the question of “why this review”…I think I know the answer, keep reading I’ll get to it eventually..
Even though the Yelp review remains online, I think it only fair to post it here in it;s entirety for prosperity:
Please note that this review is based on my personal experience from May 2014 and I am only now posting this review on Yelp.
Mitul Patel actively advertises through home mailers his introductory “$99 exam, X-Ray, & cleaning” program. His home flyer advertising program is very persistent and ongoing. We have been getting them for what seems like months. One would think he would have all the business he could handle using this $99 introductory program. It sounds great on paper. Unfortunately, I know why he advertises so much. It is to keep a steady stream of prospects coming into his office.
He and his “office manager” (which they don’t disclose as his wife) actively screen their prospects to find out if you have any negative propensities towards dentists. They have a paranoid streak about them regarding this. Patel is upbeat and cheerful at first meeting and does his best to put you in a similar state. However, if you don’t respond in kind, he becomes suspicious and insulted by it. In my case, I told him that a couple of dental hygienists over the years had told me some inside trade “secrets” that some hygienists are pressured to upsell additional product and services for commissions as well as some practices shutting down necessitating me to find a new dentist.
Upselling is part of most businesses, so that in itself is not a crime. However, Mitul Patel is like a cobra waiting to strike. He wants to prime and groom you for the inevitable upsell and if you are a bit cautious like I am who prefers to develop a relationship before agreeing to all sorts of expensive dental procedures, he won’t like it.
For me, I wanted the $99 cleaning to see how it went and then go from there. I won’t let anyone badger me into additional services until I get to know the dental practice first. Patel reveals his true colors by stating that “I am not a good fit” for his practice. Why am I not a good fit? Because I am not jumping for joy in getting my teeth cleaned? Because I am not prepared to spend hundreds of dollars in additional services without first establishing a relationship? Because I am not immediately subservient and obedient to his “superior” presence? How hard would it have been to have a hygienist come to my chair and clean my teeth first, then go from there? I’ve had it done many times without any drama. And it doesn’t require the presence of the dentist, only the hygienist.
But the gotcha is that you won’t be “rewarded” with the $99 cleaning unless Patel gets the sense you are open and agreeable to his “advice” (sales pitch) for more work. I didn’t know anything about him until I started reading some online complaints about him. I also discovered on the Georgia Board of Dentistry where he was found engaging in unprofessional conduct in 2008. He was put on probation until 2010.
Four years later, he now appears to engage in “bait and switch” tactics not to mention unseemly customer screening tactics. In any case, after he said “I wasn’t a good fit”, I knew he wanted me to leave. And I left peacefully without any drama simply stunned at the experience. Under normal circumstances, I would normally just let it go but something bugged me about the incident which lead me to checking his professional background.
No need to take my word for it, just go to the Georgia Board of Dentistry website and look him up. You will find a legal reprimand. At 35, Patel is a young dentist who still needs to mature and grow up. His need to feed his ego and status is going to hurt him unless he reins it in. His ambition and desperation to generate sales comes through loud and clear to those who have been around the block. He has a nice staff and facilities. Too bad he is too immature and tarnishes the experience.
Engaging in $99 introductory programs is fine as long as he sees it through. Otherwise, I won’t be the only person accusing him of “bait and switch” tactics. For a dental practice that has supposedly been around for years, he sure does do a lot of aggressive advertising and upselling. I don’t recommend him at all. Very untrustworthy.
Ultimately, because he jerked me around and wasted my time, I felt that the Georgia Board of Dentistry needed to know how he operated so I filed a complaint against him regarding his unethical “bait and switch” tactics and his sneaky upselling tactics.
So now onto the the nuts and bolts of this case. If you read the “breaking story” referenced above you will see that there is an actual court order that was sent to Yelp to remove the review, but there are many issues with this order, which will be exposed and reported on widely. I suspect other outlets such as Techdirt, ArsTechnica, and possibly EFF, First Amendment genius Eugene Volokh has already blogged about it as well.