D.C.’s attorney general is suing a popular online orthodontics company over its refund policies.
SmileDirectClub promises refunds to customers if they’re unhappy with their teeth straightening product, but a lawsuit filed this week by Attorney General Karl Racine alleges when customers sought refunds after 30 days they were required to sign nondisclosure agreements to get their money back, which violates D.C. law.
The attorney general said by signing the NDA in return for their refunds, customers could not make negative statements and had to remove any negative comments they had posted. They were effectively prohibited from filing complaints with government regulators about problems with the product.
“We want to give voice to those who are silenced, so that they can actually share the experiences they had,” D.C. Office of Consumer Protection Director Adam Teitelbaum said. “We want to bar the company from engaging in this practice in the future. We're going to seek refunds back to consumers who were promised refunds and maybe only got a partial refund or no refund at all.”
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SmileDirectClub sells clear dental aligners directly to consumers. The company markets the aligners as a less expensive and faster alternative to braces.
In a statement to News4, the company said it is “disappointed the outgoing D.C. attorney general has chosen to take this action based on outdated misinformation and competitors’ lies about the company’s service and products that have been proven untrue and inaccurate time and again.”
The company went on to say its nondisclosure provision follows the general release guidelines established by the American Association of Orthodontics for refunds.
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Racine’s lawsuit seeks restitution and damages for consumers along with civil penalties.