- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Sues Aspen Dental Over Deceptive Advertising Scheme That Harmed Thousands of Massachusetts Consumers
Thomas Dalton, Deputy Press Secretary
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today filed a lawsuit against Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (Aspen Dental), alleging the dental chain cheated thousands of Massachusetts consumers through a series of bait and switch advertising campaigns.
The complaint, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Aspen Dental violated the state Consumer Protection Law and the assurances Aspen Dental made to the AG’s Office in a 2014 settlement addressing similar conduct. According to the AG’s lawsuit, Aspen Dental engaged in numerous deceptive advertising and marketing practices—including charging patients for services it advertised as “free” and not living up to “guarantees” it advertised—as well as other deceptive practices in its interactions with consumers.
“Aspen Dental took advantage of vulnerable consumers in need of dental care and used misleading advertising to lure them into their offices under false pretenses,” said Attorney General Healey. “We’re suing this company for violating both state law and its earlier promises not to engage in precisely these illegal practices, and we’re seeking restitution for patients harmed by this misconduct.”
The AG’s lawsuit asserts that Aspen Dental’s misconduct started by luring consumers to its offices with false promises of free services and ultimately resulted in sending many of these consumers into debt collection over its bills for those purportedly free services.
Specifically, the AG’s complaint alleges:
- Aspen Dental took advantage of consumers in pain who called Aspen Dental seeking emergency treatment, telling them that their initial appointment would be free, only to then bill them when the consumers received examinations focused on their emergency. In 2014, Aspen Dental specifically agreed not to advertise free services without disclosing all limitations.
- Aspen Dental falsely advertised having “no hidden fees,” but trained its scheduling center representatives that they were “NOT permitted to advise” potential patients of certain fees that are usually associated with emergency appointments.
- Aspen Dental deceptively advertised the price of dentures and the existence of money back guarantees for dentures, without disclosing limitations on the offers.
- Aspen Dental also violated its 2014 settlement with the AG’s Office in a number of other ways, including by misrepresenting loans, credit cards and its refund policies.
The Attorney General’s action seeks to bar the company from using these unlawful practices and to require that Aspen Dental pay restitution to harmed Massachusetts residents and substantial civil penalties and costs to the state.
There are more than 25 Aspen Dental-branded dental offices in Massachusetts. According to the complaint, these offices brought in over $389 million in net patient revenue from December 2014 to January 2019.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Ethan Marks and Emiliano Mazlen with assistance from Division Chief Eric Gold, and Paralegal Troy Brown, of AG Healey’s Health Care Division, and Anthony Crespi of AG Healey’s Civil Investigations Division.