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Wednesday
Oct212009

Medical Spa Lesson: The least recommend way for handling your medical spa PR problems.

Note: The identities that were in this post have been changed but the events are all as described.

A Medical Spa chain is not happy with what someone else has posted about them in the community forums of this site.

The negative comments are directed at one of the management team. I became aware of this medical spas concerns a few days ago after I received a string of emails from the medspa chain's 'CS Manager'. (Im guessing that CS is short for customer service.)

I can certainly understand why this medical spa is unhappy. Evidently the individual named in the comments was previously part of a failed franchise called Skin Nuvo and was one of three Skin Suvo operating officers who was sued by the SEC for 'Swindling investors of $11 million'. However, charges against the individual in question were dropped.

Here's an excerpt on the Skin Nuvo suit from the San Francisco Chronicle article:

Three men, including a Concord resident, were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday on charges that they swindled more than $11 million from investors in a skin-care business that later filed for bankruptcy.

..."Skin Nuvo was projecting a glamorous image with their stores in very flashy and high-end malls, but beneath the surface, the company was in deep financial trouble," said Michael Dicke, an SEC supervising attorney.

Skin Nuvo, based in Henderson, has since filed for bankruptcy. During the alleged fraud from 2002 to 2004, the company's Bay Area stores -- which sold skin care and hair removal products -- were located in shopping malls in San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Concord, Corte Madera and Walnut Creek.

The SEC suit seeks to bar the men against any future violations of securities laws, a civil monetary penalty and the recovery of any ill-gotten gains.

So here's some of the emails that I received, and my response, over the course of the next three or four days. They start with an email from S.H. the CS (Customer Service?) Manager.

First email: S.H. of Nu U

Subject: Slanderous blog agiainst N.V./___ Medspa
Message: I need to speak with someone ASAP re: several slanderous remarks that have been made on your forum against N.V., owner of _____ Medspa.
Please contact me at 702-xxx-xxxx to discuss.

Thank you,
S.H.
CS Manager

My same-day response to S.H.:

Hello S,
What can I do for you?

S.H. want's to talk immediately. He's entirely too irate to just communicate that a comment may have gone over the line and violated Medical Spa MD's own terms. No, S.H. want's to talk. Now. Here's the next two emails:

Is it possible to call you?  Too much to put in an email.

S.H.

Jeff – there is a blog on your website re: N.V., owner of _____ Medspa.  The blog is dated 3/4/09 and is authored by “_____ Isn’t For You”.

The blog states Mr. V. only hires attractive females and then tries to date them / makes sexual advances towards them.  It goes on from there.

This is slanderous and libelous and a complete and total lie!  I am formally requesting this particular blog entry be removed immediately.  If you are unwilling to remove said blog then I will forward onto my legal department for further handling.  Please reply at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

S.H
CS Manager
_____ Medspa

I got another email amost immediately. Evidently my inability to grasp just how urgent this issue is and my lack of action in removing an anonymous post is getting under S.H's' skin. He dicides to forgo any more niceities and threaten me with his 'legal department'. Ouch. Here's S.H's next email.

This is slanderous and libelous and a complete and total lie! I am formally requesting this particular blog entry be removed immediately. If you are unwilling to remove said blog then I will forward onto my legal department for further handling. Please reply at your earliest convenience.

Have to give it to S, he's a silver-tongued devil. I mean, having an entire 'legal department' set on my like wild dogs? Terrifying.

So now I'm dealing with the 'legal department'. Here's what they sent.

Our firm, Kamensky Rubinstein Hochman & Delott, LLP, represents ___ medical spas.

Our client has informed us of various outrageous and defamatory blog postings/comments made on your website http://www.medicalspamd.com/ that impugn the character of Mr. N.V. of ___, specifically postings from "___ Isn't For You!" dated 3/4/09 and 4/10/09 and "former skin medique employee" dated 3/25/09.

In the March 4, 2009 posting, "__ _ Isn't For You!" falsely states that Mr. V only hires attractive females and then tries to date them or makes sexual advances towards them. In addition, "__ _ Isn't For You!" falsely states that if such sexual advances are not accepted, the employee does not get paid. In addition, in "__ _ Isn't For You"'s April 10, 2009 posting it falsely accuses __ _ of "multiple violations of state and federal labor laws, multiple instances of unwanted sexual advances and harassment." Similarly, "former skin medique employee" falsely states that Mr. V is "crooked," a "con artist," and "shady" and further falsely states that "if N.V. is involved . . . It is a scam from the word go."

This is not the type of content expected from a thoughtful website regarding medspas. Accordingly, we request that you immediately remove the postings posted by "__ _ Isn't For You!" dated 3/4/09 and 4/10/09 and "former skin medique employee" dated 3/25/09. We also request that you provide us with the names and all information in your possession relating to "__ _ Isn't For You" and "former skin medique employee."

Now isn't that nice? Within something like 72 hours we've progressed from a simple email request to this Medical Spas' demand that I turn over information on individuals who've made negative comments about them. This medical spa went from trying to get a single comment removed, to making the front page of Medical Spa MD. (Medical spas usually have to pay for that privledge.)

Of course this may not be the kind of publicity that __ _, S.H, and N.V wanted. I can't think that this medspa would really want the fact that one of their corporate officers was once sued by the SEC. But with the nasty-grams that S and his legal department are sending me it made me wonder what all the hubbub's about.

__ _ Medspa: Lessons for S.

Let me take a moment here and discuss what I think S could have done that would have better fit his medical spas business needs.

First: Don't take it personally. Every medical spa is going to have unhappy patients and ex-employees. You can't shut them up. Don't try. Perhaps they're unhappy for a reason. Your best bet is to engage in civil conversation. If you're making decisions on behalf of your medical spa or laser clinic, you need to keep your emotions out of the way. You're going to have dissagreements and sometimes they'll get personal. Don't let it affect your 'actions'. Medical Spa MD doesn't have any interest in harming this medical spa and no Medspa MD author wrote those comments.

But I wasn't responding fast enought to S and he took that as a slight. It wasn't. I don't know S and my first response, 'how can I help you', was an invitation for him to lay out his case. He didn't take advantage of that. Instead he lost focus on what he was trying to accomplish.

Second: Focus on your goal. Sean's goal was simply to get me to remove a comment. It's not unreasonable. I've done it before. I've removed any number of comments that attacked individuals in a way that had nothing to do with their business and was just an attempt to hurt them personally. I don't like those attacks and when I find them, I often remove them and at times, block an IP address so they can't make more.

S lost sight of the goal which was to get a comment removed. Instead, he switched his goal to getting to me. If he'd not been so agressive he'd probably have gotten the offending comment edited or removed. Instead, S pulled a gun by threatening me with his 'legal department'.

Third: Never pull a gun unless you intend to use it. S went nuclear when he had his 'legal department' fire off a demand. If S was smarter, he would have done his homework and seen that Medical Spa MD has been threatened many times by medical spa francises and their lawyers and knows well how to handel cyber-slap lawsuits. Read this Medical Spa MD post on cyberslap lawsuits, legal rights and anonymous comments on the web.

S went 'legal team' way, way too fast. I wasn't being unreasonable. I didn't tell him to 'go to hell'. It just wasn't at the top of my list of things to do. Medial Spa MD can get twenty or thirty contacts a day. I could care less that S demands to talk to me on the phone right away. Get in line. A single anonymous comment doesn't rise to the need of emergency care. S would have done much better with a simple, "I know you're busy" and a written explianation of his need to get a medspa comment removed.

__ _ Medspas legal team doesn't have a leg to stand on demanding information about people who comment on Medical Spa MD either. Anyone has a perfectly legal right to post anonymously on the web. Comments on Medical Spa MD are most commonly anonymous for exactly that reason. Physicians don't want to be held liable for the advice they give to other doctors, and laser technicians working at some laser clinic franchise don't want to lose their job.

Last: Never pull a gun on the person holding the mic. If you don't know what that means... From the begnning, S is making demands and acting pretty agressive, but he's only got one weak pair of twos (his 'legal team') and he plays them right away. Now he's got nothing left. If he's emailing some ex-employee that kind of intimidation might work, but not in this case.

By threatening Medical Spa MD and myself directly he's chosen to make an adversarial relationship when he needed a helpful one. While I don't have any axe to grind against S or __ _ Medical Spas, I don't really appreciate this kind of interaction. Any new threatening communications S or his 'legal department' they'll be posted right here on Medical Spa MD's front page where our 50,000 monthly visitors can decide for themseleves. (I can't think that any named Medspa's physicians will welcome questions about it.)

So where does that leave Medical Spa MD and __ _ medical spas?

For my part I'll put a quick notice up on the Medical Spa comments and take a look at them sometime in the next few days. If there's something that violates our terms, I'll edit or delete it.

I can't think that S has solved his Medical Spas business needs though.

Reader Comments (8)

Happy to be reading about someone else when reading this post. I can see why Nu U was trying to get the comments taken down but having their lawyers email you was just plain foolish. If they'd read the site in any way they'd have known that wasn't the route to take.

10.22 | Unregistered CommenterDermgal

Way to use your words Seans.

Why can't we all just get along?

former Nuvo International employee

Medical spas and physicians are always under attack and have people complaining about us all of the time. You can't stop internet posts one way or another. Poor guy had no idea who he was up against! Good for you, Jeff, for being the better man!

I have a Jeopardy question for S. H.

Under "United States Consitution: Bill of Rights..... for $500.....

This amendment gives individuals the liberty to express ideas and opinions without hinderance, and especially without fear of punishment, to engage in a free interchange of ideas and opinions. Seen as an essential ingredient of democracy and resistance to tiranny, and as an important agent of improvement.....

S. H.?.......

Oh, I'm sorry S. H.....you lose,.... the correct answer: What Is The 1ST Amendment.......

Good point, but it would be nice to spend a little more time editing the articles before uploading..

11.1 | Unregistered CommenterAris

I know all to well dealing with SH for months and months that he threatens you with his legal team, or maybe he'll have to go in another direction??????? Another form of threat, I guess. Hopefully SH and Nu U Med Spa will get to use their "legal department' a lot in the upcoming months, since Lisa Madigan the Attorney General of Illinois is suing the company.

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