SmileDirectClub may be silencing unhappy clients

SmileDirectClub attempts to limit information about customer dissatisfaction through confidentiality provisions and lawsuits, according to The New York Times.

Seven SmileDirectClub customers told the NYT that the aligners didn't fix their teeth, and four said the product created new problems. When some of the customers requested refunds, SmileDirectClub asked them to sign an agreement requiring the customers to delete negative social media reviews and forbidding them from telling anyone about the refund.

Potential SmileDirectClub customers complete a consent form saying their teeth have been examined by a dentist and that they cannot sue the company for any reason. SmileDirectClub offers refunds within 30 days for the $1,850 aligners, but anything after is outside the company's refund policy and comes with the nondisclosure agreement.

The majority of customers are happy with SmileDirectClub, said Susan Greenspon Rammelt, the company's chief legal officer, citing an average customer rating of 4.9 out of 5 from over 100,000 reviews on its website, according to the NYT. The company said less than 5 percent of its customers had received a refund.

SmileDirectClub also sued the parent of the site Lifehacker last year, alleging defamation and libel over an article describing the risks of its products. It also sued several state dental boards it claimed were conspiring against the company and jeopardizing its business.

Since 2014, there have been more than 1,670 Better Business Bureau complaints involving SmileDirectClub, the NYT reports. In contrast, Align Technology has had five complaints. SmileDirectClub said most of the complaints were related to shipping delays.

In September, some customers filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of false advertising and violating FDA regulations. All but two plaintiffs later withdrew from the suit because the consent form required disputes to be resolved in arbitration.

More articles on dental:
Nevada dental board to debate whether to fire top executives, again
Delta encourages Tennessee patient to push for refund after "unacceptable" dental work
Former Milwaukee dental assistant claims she was fired over Facebook post

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