1. Our thoughts on CVO's advertising rules
2. See below to have YOUR say.
3. You may contact us - see below.
Recently, the CVO has come out with its interpretation of its baffling advertising rules. You are not allowed to solicit reviews or link to websites that have your reviews. Having a Facebook like is fine as long as you have not offered anything in return for it. The College also states a member is responsible for not posting reviews or testimonials on websites they control but having reviews on third party websites like Facebook are fine because the member does not control them. If the CVO did its homework they would know that there are ways to disable reviews on your own Facebook page. Oddly the College allows the Best Veterinary Clinic via the local newspaper to be listed on a veterinarian’s website as long as you do not have a link to it. The rational is that this award is given out by a third party so it is verifiable while individual testimonials are not? If you find this hodgepodge of rules baffling you are not alone.
The absurdity of these rules is that the public does not know they exist, only veterinarians do. So, who is enforcing the public interest that veterinarians do not have reviews or are soliciting testimonials? Certanly, it is not the College because it does not seek out violations of the advertising rules. Compliance relies on the honour system and our own professionalism. Randomly visit any veterinary website and you can easily come across a site that has testimonials on it. Do not forget about those clinics that are using third party vendors like Demand Force which solicit reviews behind the scenes. First Demand Force sends out surveys and then the good responses are encouraged to write reviews for Google. Hospitals using Demand Force will likely have the most reviews for them on Google. Have you recently asked a new client why they picked your hospital? The answer use to be friends and family, now it's "You had good reviews on Google!". The CVO will investigate these violations if another veterinarian raises a complaint against another colleague. The registrar also has the power to get involved in any unauthorized practice. So ultimately enforcement relies on a member complaining against another member or the whim of the registrar.
It is better that you do not complain about another colleague’s use of testimonials or any other advertising mistakes. Do not become a snitch, informer or tattle tail no matter how much you may dislike your colleague. Let the public complain to the CVO. Remember the mandate of the College is to protect the public. So, the mandate of veterinarians must be that we behave professionally to other veterinarians. These advertising rules are archaic and all they do is pit veterinarians against each other. Other jurisdictions are allowed to have testimonials and the College often cites other jurisdictions as a reason why it implements change. Veterinarians need a level playing field and the only way to do that is to change these archaic advertising rules.
Equally disturbing about these advertising rules is that the punishment for violating the rules is arbitrary. Where does the College list clear and concise rules for punishment for violating these rules? We know that if we are 50 km over the limit our car will be impounded. If an investigation is lodged against a veterinarian, they will ask the veterinarian to fix the violation. What if the veterinarian decides not to remove testimonials because other veterinary websites also have testimonials? What will be that veterinarian’s punishment? There is no process or procedure at the CVO for determining consistency, reliability and fairness of disciplinary actions. So what type of due process and punishment do veterinarians get? We get a hodgepodge of rules, resulting in anonymous complaints from our colleagues, that force us to comply, to avoid an arbitrary punishment . Veterinarians must demand that these archaic advertising rules be changed.
3. Please feel free to contact the VPOA with any questions, concerns, or comments you may have. You can:
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