The Oregon Board of Dentistry is notifying dentists that running Groupons and other daily deals may violate rules against “unprofessional conduct.”
From the board’s Web site:
!!NEWSFLASH!! Internet Coupon Advertising!!! Please Read!!
The Board has recently become aware of different companies soliciting Oregon licensees to enter into contracts for marketing and promotion services between the licensee and the company to promote voucher systems for potential patients. The Board has preliminarily determined that these may violate the unprofessional conduct rule OAR 818-012-0030(3) which prohibits offering rebates, split fees, or commissions for services rendered to a patient to any person other than a partner, employee or employer.The Board suggests that until this can be fully reviewed by the Board, licensees proceed with caution and if they feel necessary seek legal counsel on this matter or contact the Board office at (971) 673-3200.
Earlier, Oregon’s Board of Chiropractic Examiners is forbidding Groupon-type deals, saying they violate fee-splitting arrangements. In a July letter posted on the board’s Web site, it says “Groupon-type fee splitting arrangements are still prohibited for chiropractic physicians.”
The letter goes on to say that LivingSocial has changed from a fee-splitting arrangement to a flat fee for marketing.
While I’m generally a fan of consumer-protection rules, I don’t believe these rules fall into that category. I think they just prevent competition and are anti-consumer.
That said, the rules are the rules. Local services are a quagmire of regulations that further strain the business models of Groupon, LivingSocial and other deal companies.