Aspen Dental to Pay Close to $1 Million to Settle Allegations of Deceptive Advertising, Charging for Services not Provided
Thousands of Consumers in Massachusetts to Receive Restitution
BOSTON – A dental company has agreed to pay at least $990,000 to settle allegations of deceptive advertising and marketing practices, and failing to give refunds to consumers for services not provided, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The assurance of discontinuance, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Aspen Dental Management, Inc. and Aspen Dental Associates of New England, P.C. ran misleading advertisements, unlawfully charged consumers for treatments weeks or months before they were rendered, and failed to provide refunds. There are more than two dozen Aspen Dental locations in Massachusetts.
“We allege this dental company took advantage of its patients by deceptively marketing its services and unfairly charging in advance for dental treatments,” AG Coakley said. “Under this settlement affected consumers will get the relief they deserve and Aspen will be prevented from continuing these unlawful practices in the Commonwealth.”
Under the terms of the assurance, Aspen will pay at least $770,000 in restitution to thousands of first-time customers in Massachusetts who paid some or all of the cost for dental exams or x-rays that Aspen had advertised would be “free” between September 2009 and December 2013. Aspen will also refund all prepayments by former Aspen customers for dental services that were not provided. Consumers who are entitled to a refund will be notified directly by Aspen. In addition, Aspen will pay $220,000 to the Commonwealth.
As part of the settlement, Aspen has agreed that it will not require consumers to pay in advance, except for custom-made prosthetics or treatments that will be completed within 30 days of payment. Also, Aspen will no longer engage in misleading advertising, including advertising services as free without prominently stating any exceptions, and has also agreed to do the following:
- provide good faith estimates of cost prior to services;
- fully disclose and comply with its refund policy;
- fully and accurately disclose all terms of any third party financing arrangements they offer;
- train its office employees on making such accurate disclosures; and
- not permit an individual who does not hold a valid license to practice dentistry in the Commonwealth to have final decision-making authority over treatment plans.
For more information and a list of frequently asked questions about the Attorney General's Aspen Dental settlement, click here.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Gold of Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Health Care Division handled this matter for the Commonwealth, with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Emiliano Mazlen and Legal Analyst Kathryn Doty, both of the Health Care Division, and Assistant Attorney General Gillian Feiner of the Consumer Protection Division.
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