Aspen Dental to pay nearly $1M over deceptive advertising claims

Dental chain Aspen Dental has agreed to pay $990,000 to settle allegations of deceptive advertising and marketing practices and also failing to give refunds to consumers for services not provided in Massachusetts, according to a statement from the state attorney general.

Aspen Dental Management and Aspen Dental Associates of New England allegedly ran misleading advertisements, unlawfully charged consumers for treatments weeks or months before they were rendered, and failed to provide refunds.

Aspen Dental responded via email to DrBicuspid.com that it "strongly disagrees with and denies the attorney general's allegations but cooperated fully and ultimately agreed to resolve the matter."

Under the terms of the agreement, Aspen Dental will pay at least $770,000 in restitution to first-time customers that the state alleged were forced to pay for exams and x-rays that the company said would be free between September 2009 and December 2013. The company also will contact people who are eligible for refunds, and it will also pay Massachusetts $220,000.

"We allege this dental company took advantage of its patients by deceptively marketing its services and unfairly charging in advance for dental treatments," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley stated. "Under this settlement affected consumers will get the relief they deserve, and Aspen will be prevented from continuing these unlawful practices in the commonwealth."

Aspen Dental also agreed to change its billing practices. Specifically, the company agreed to limit prepayments, provide accurate estimates of charges, and disclose details of financing agreements.

Aspen Dental agreed to 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 office employees on making accurate disclosures.
  • Not permit individuals who do not hold a valid license to practice dentistry in Massachusetts to have final decision-making authority over treatment plans.

Aspen Dental was named in a 2013 U.S. Senate committee investigation of five dental chains that allegedly used deceptive business models that gave managers rather than dentists control over the clinics.

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