If you are a customer of Aspen Dental and feel you were overcharged or otherwise mistreated with regard to their services and promotions, legal recourse may be available. Allegations have surfaced that the corporate dental practice issued confusing or misleading information about discounts, coupons, free services and interest-free financing, overcharged customers and provided unnecessary treatments. This has reportedly forced some customers – who were marketed to because they were short on cash – to be locked into debt by their dental bills.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office launched an investigation into Aspen Dental in 2010 for allegedly offering confusing and misleading information regarding discounts, free denture consults, “interest-free” financing, free dental exams, coupons and other promotions. The corporate dental practice settled with the AG, but reports of these problems continue to surface. In mid-2012, MSNBC reported the case of an 87-year-old patient who chose Aspen Dental’s Cleveland office to have two teeth pulled and was bewildered when she was handed a four-page treatment plan with a price tag of over $7800. Among the charges were $350 for an antibiotic, a rinse similar to Listerine for $129 and $149 for an electric toothbrush which she found in a bag given to her by Aspen Dental, the report claims.
According to the article, Aspen Dental services patients who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to a dentist. They advertise free exams and X-rays and many of their offices are located in shopping centers and near fast-food restaurants. Aspen Dental accepts insurance, but for those without dental coverage, “no-interest” credit cards are offered. These credit cards reportedly carry hefty penalties, including a nearly 30% interests rate on the full amount of the original loan if the patient fails to make a payment. Furthermore, it has been alleged that even if a patients wants a routine cleaning or broken tooth fixed, Aspen Dental will present a full treatment plan to cover problems that may crop up in the future. It has been reported that many were forced to get dentures, the company’s specialty, even when other cheaper and more practical options were available.
Corporate Dental chains are barely regulated, especially if they don’t accept Medicaid recipients. This becomes even more problematic when former employees of Apsen Dental are claiming that they were trained in high-pressure sales and the company’s own recruiting video reportedly explains that dentists are given bonuses as key production targets are met. It is believed that Aspen Dental and other corporate dental practices are putting pressure on the staff to maximize profits, with one former employee saying that office managers, dentists and hygienists who didn’t meet their financial targets were likely to be fired.