Penn. AG orders dental group to repay patients

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office has reached a $135,000 consumer settlement with an Erie-based dental and denture business accused of not honoring advertised discounts, using confusing information about limitations or qualifications for various promotions, and failing to provide consumers with information about financing services.

Allcare Dental and Dentures operates nine locations across Pennsylvania, including offices in Beaver Valley, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Monroeville, North Hills, Robinson, Washington, and West Mifflin.

State Attorney General Tom Corbett said his office had received numerous complaints from consumers regarding Allcare's advertisements and promotions for senior discounts, free denture consultations, low-interest or interest-free financing, free initial exams and x-rays, low-cost denture repairs, and warranties.

"Consumers were drawn to Allcare by offers of low-cost solutions to their dental problems," Corbett stated in a press release. "Instead, many were surprised by larger bills, more expensive services, or higher interest rates than they were initially promised."

According to the settlement, Allcare allegedly failed to adequately disclose various limitations or special qualifications on various coupons and promotions, did not adequately explain financing terms and conditions, or enticed consumers to purchase more expensive products or services. Additionally, some consumers allegedly received bills from third-party finance companies despite not having purchased any Allcare products or services.

Allcare is required to pay $75,000 in restitution to consumers who file valid claims for refunds before June 29, 2009.

Allcare will also now be required to provide all consumers with a copy of their treatment and financing plan, including an itemized list of all services and fees, disclosure of any cancellation fees, terms of any guarantees or warranties, the total amount due, estimated monthly payments, and annual interest rate.

Additionally, the settlement requires Allcare to pay $10,000 in civil penalties, along with $50,000 to support future consumer protection activities. Allcare must also place clear and conspicuous statements in all future advertisements and promotions, explaining any limitation or special qualifications.

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