Yelpsuit Dismissed For Good...or Bad?
It's officially over. The class action lawsuits against Yelp claiming extortionist practices were dismissed with prejudice this week by US District Court Judge Edward Chen. These lawsuits had been dismissed before, but still allowed for the plaintiffs to refile the lawsuit. The refiling of these lawsuits is what brought the case back in front of the court in a hearing earlier this week. And, that's what makes the 'with prejudice' part of the court's ruling important - it means the lawsuit cannot be refiled and that the case against Yelp is officially over.
We know Yelp has been a thorn in the side of many practices over the past couple years. We also know that many of you are likely disappointed with the dismissal of these lawsuits. But all is not lost. By bringing these issues to light, Yelp has been forced to change their business practices to provide more transparency. Is it perfect? No. Are doctors still being slighted? Perhaps. Are positive reviews from your patients being hidden? Likely. But is it getting better? Yes. While there's still a way to go before Yelp is consistently playing fair by providing true transparency with their reviews, there has been progress made over the past year to hold them more accountable. Will they ever improve to the point where they can repair the damaged relationships they have with most doctors? Time will tell...
It is promising that progress is being made though, because Yelp and other doctor review sties aren't going away. In the same week the Yelpsuits were dismissed, Yelp announced the opening of their New York office where they were welcomed by Mayor Bloomberg himself. And, as we've whispered before, a Yelp IPO appears to be looming in the not-so-distant future.
What should doctors do about it? Take control of your name online. There are plenty of online profiles out there on the Internet that you can setup for free in order to keep a single review site like Yelp from owning your name - and reputation - online. By giving prospective patients additional places to find verified reviews from your actual patients, any potentially unethical deprecation of your reputation by a single review site will be exposed for what it is - an obvious untruth.