2001-Fri Aug 18 23:48:11 EDT 2017
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Every so often I’ll field an email that goes something like this: "My pet needs a specialist, but the hospital my regular vet recommends has gotten a lot of negative online reviews. Should I go elsewhere?”
It’s a great question — more so given that pet owners are increasingly looking to online reviews to help them decide whether a veterinary hospital will meet their standards or not. And while we still recommend that pet owners rely more on recommendations from people they know whose opinions they trust, it’s nonetheless true that online reviews can be helpful, too.
After all, when you’re trying to decide between x, y and z hospital, reading what complete strangers have to say can help you decide which to try first.
But that doesn’t mean that online reviews are flawless. In fact, in plenty of cases they can really steer you wrong.
Take the specialty hospital in the opening query as an example: Though there may be plenty of positive reviews regaling the hospital with kudos and thank yous, the negative ones have a way of standing out.
In fact, if you take the time to research any large veterinary hospital, the negative commentary is impressive — particularly with respect to financial concerns:
Ouch! But it’s to be expected, I guess. After all, these are the hospitals whose prices are usually steepest and where the short-term nature of the relationship means that love is easily lost — presumably because it never got a chance to develop in the first place. And because these places get stiffed so often, it’s also the case that their business practices are extra strict.
As I see it, the problem here is not the hospital itself but the money issue in general. Consider that the level of care we can now provide our animals is far more sophisticated than our ability to pay for it. This fact has a way of setting up adversarial relationships between pet owners and veterinarians, especially when it comes to the highest levels of care.
Which can make for an acrimonious first date. That's why I too often see negative reviews — even (especially) for the best-equipped, best-staffed places.
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