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1-800-Dentist Has Gone Too Far

1-800-Dentist has been around for years.  They offer the public a referral service that’s based on sound research of the best dentists in the area.  Of course we know that’s technically not true.  Dentists pay money for the service and get fed patients.  As for the “research” done by 1-800-Dentist, there are some basic background checks to make sure that you are actually a dentist, that you don’t have a criminal record, etc.  They also make sure the patients they send you are happy after they leave.

Well I was content to not say anything for years until I saw this commercial:


Very clever.  It’s a well-made commercial.  I’ve seen about two other ones in this series that have the same premise: person looks for a dentist, gets terrible advice from a friend, calls 1-800-Dentist.

I think they’ve crossed the line here.  Every dentist depends on referrals from patients to grow their practice, including those who pay to be listed on 1-800-Dentist.  Yet they are subtly implying that their service is superior to asking friends and family for a recommendation.  That makes me very angry.

Let’s examine their phrase: “Because sometimes your friends are useless.”  They use the word “sometimes” to soften the blow but I think the damage has already been done.  Just make a simple phone call instead of taking a chance with a recommendation from a friend.

I’ve written before about the consumerization of patients and other threats to the way we practice.  We wonder why patient behaviors have changed?  I think we can partly blame commercials like this.


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