To many, Yelp is a cesspool of both angry customers and people who embrace any opportunity to give their two cents. Regardless of the validity of the reviews, by and large, Yelp is considered the go-to resource for folks looking compare professional services in their area. In fact, Yelp reviews can make or break a business. In one case, Medical Cosmetic Enhancements, a skincare clinic in Chevy Chase, MD, didn’t take a negative review lightly, and took legal action against one customer who claimed that the clinic had left a scar on her face.
Barb Howe redeemed a $160 LivingSocial coupon for a photo-facial, a procedure that claims to use light therapy to boost collagen. After the treatment, Howe complained to the on-staff dermatologist, Andrew Varano, MD, that the facial left a scar on her face. After refusing to refund her, Howe wrote a scathing Yelp review of her experience, and filed a complaint with the area’s Better Business Bureau.
In retaliation, Varano sent Howe a cease-and-desist letter, referencing a 2006 photo from Howe’s Flickr account that features her with a scar or wrinkle near the bottom left side of her lip, which appears to be the same scar that Howe alleges was the result of a botched facial. Despite the threat of legal action, Howe refused to remove her review, and she was later served with a small-claims defamation lawsuit. In the claim, Varano demanded $5,000 in damages, and explained that he informed Howe that her scar was pre-existing.
In the end, the truth behind Howe’s scar was never revealed. However, it’s never wise to underestimate the powers of a Yelp review.