We Don’t Deal With Bullies

You all have them, that patient that threatens you with lawsuits and bad YELP reviews if you don’t give them what they want.. free frames, free eye exams and or their money back. The threats are not idle.. and I think we all know what a bad YELP review can do.

This new type of bullying behavior using social media is blackmail, terrorism and extortion. The question is should you give in? If you give in, what is the ultimate cost?

Cyber-bulling, exhortation whatever you want to call it happens more frequently than you might think. It happens in restaurants, in stores all over the place. It happens to Eyecare Professionals. One optometrist said that a patient did write a bad review on YELP because they refused to give 50% off on frames.

The question has come up over and over on Facebook Forums: The post will say something like: Had a patient write me a letter that said they were unhappy with the service they received and were pissed that I was going to send them to collections-bill was $XX-and if I cashed the check they “begrudgingly” wrote they would negatively blast me on social media. What are my legal options? Should I charge them with extortion?

There was some great advice on OD’s on Facebook:

  • Since you have the threat tying a bad review to money in writing, you are actually in the drivers seat now. Legal action is not really worth your time or money but a well written letter to the patient would be. Let them know that the money owed is due to services rendered and not covered by their insurance company. Tell them you have consulted with an expert and have been informed that there is a similar case where the person was prosecuted for extortion and defamation of character. Since they threatened you in writing, you will be forced to forward it on to the police and your lawyer if they choose to follow thru on said threat. I’m not saying you should- but put the idea in their head that you could. That turns the tables on them completely. And cash the check a week or so later. Good luck.

Another piece of advice is to check with your state or city to see what their laws are. Send a letter to the patient with the law. For instance in Michigan

  • The Crime of Extortion Generally speaking, extortion is when a person aims for some kind of financial gain by using threats in order to get it. This offense tends to involve a threat of future harm as opposed to immediate harm like with robbery.
  • At trial, the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to result. That there is a malicious spoken or written threat.
  • Next, that the defendant threatened to injure the target, his or her close family members, or property.
  • The threat must be made to gain money or financial advantage in some way.
  • That the threat is intended to force another person to act or not act in a way that is against his or her will.
  • This crime is completed when the defendant makes the threat with the intent to force the other person to comply.

Others have chimed in that said don’t give in to bullies. Several made points that the more people threaten, the more free stuff they get (Are we becoming a National of Free-loaders?) Once you give in.. if will happen over and over again.

  • Don’t ever give in to cyber bullies. They only make your good reviews look legitimate.
  • You never reward bad behavior, it only makes it worse for everyone else

Sadly adult bullies can be people you work with,  family and friends. Learning to deal bullies is a lifelong job and there are ways to deal with bullies.

First evaluate if this is a lose -lose situation, win-lose or win-win.

If you refund the money,

  1. Is this a situation in which if you refund the money, the patient is not going to be happy anyway?
  2. Is this a situation in which they person might be having a bad day and it’s a one off?
  3. Is this a situation in which the bully will tell his friends who might try the same thing?
  4. Is this a situation in which you will feel like crap about later if you give in?
  5. Is this a situation in which the lab also refunds you, so you are not really out too much money. Because if you threaten the lab.. then you are indulging in bullying behavior.

Sometimes these decisions have to be made in split seconds. While hard, you do have choices. The ultimate choice is to convert them into long term loyal patients.

Understanding bullies is part of the process. Bullies lash out when they are unhappy in their life. They may be a punching bag for others and when they see a vulnerable person they immediately seize the opportunity to take back control and make you pay for their own perceived injustices.

Knowing that about bullies, it is important not to be a victim. Laughing with them, ignoring them are several ways to deal with them. What they really want to do is get a rise out of you. Bad YELP Reviews are one such way.

What to do:

  1. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Don’t let your emotions get in the way. Reacting with anger will only feed the bully. Be calm and recognize they are a bully.
  2. After listening, point out their signature on your refund policy if you have one. Explain the situation calmly and logically.
  3. Try laughing or getting them to laugh. Laughter might diffuse the situation.
  4. Offer to ‘make it right’ with a store credit or a re-make.
  5. You can let them have their way, maybe it might be over, but bullies don’t go away.
  6. Worse case scenario, just give them their money back. You can at this time Fire them as a patient 

Believe it or not a lot of people don’t listen to YELP, do the right thing and not give in.

Here is a sad fact: Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year. Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying. 17% of American students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month or more within a school semester.

That is something to think about..

Resources

Do Something 

Stop Bullying

Bullying.org

Pacers Kids Against Bullying 

 

 

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