SmileDirectClub, the at-home, do-it-yourself orthodontic service that ceased operations over the weekend, is leaving customers with payments due but no further treatment.
Ashli Noelle Evans, a SmileDirect customer based in Knoxville, was looking to perfect her smile by signing up for the service, but now she says she’s stuck with a bill and no aligners.
“I still have to pay. I’m still under a finance payment for another year. The ‘lifetime smile guarantee’ is obviously gone, and I will not receive my aligners that I put in for last month,” she told CBS News. “So now I’m going to have to go to an orthodontist anyway. So it was kind of pointless to go that route to try to save some money since my treatment was so small.”
SmileDirectClub filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September. Despite closing down, the company is telling anyone who has the SmileyPay Plan they that must continue to “make all monthly payments until payment has been made in full,” according to a statement on the company’s website. It also informs customers, “Effective immediately the Lifetime Smile Guarantee no longer exists.”
Customers looking for refunds will have to wait, the website says, adding, “there will be more information to come once the bankruptcy process determines next steps and additional measures customers can take.”
Evans says she isn’t alone in her frustration.
“There are a lot of people that are very upset. I had people reach out to me that had just got a Black Friday deal that they had sent out and they had ordered aligners and they’ve gotten nothing,” she says. “I had at least a couple of treatments. They’ve had nothing.”
Evans also hasn’t heard from the company.
“I actually sent in my impressions. They received them on the 22nd of November, and I was waiting on a new set of aligners to come in the mail,” she said, adding that she tried to get in contact after hearing the news. “Everything has just disappeared. The app doesn’t work anymore. There’s no one to talk to. There is no customer service. There’s nothing there.”
Since going public in 2019, the Nashville-based company was unable to turn a profit, raking up a debt of nearly $900 million before declaring bankruptcy, the Associated Press reported.
The American Dental Association has advised against the practices of companies offering direct-to-consumer teeth aligners, warning of the potential risks to patients.
“Moving teeth without knowing all aspects of a patient’s oral condition has the potential to cause bone loss, lost teeth, receding gums, bite problems, jaw pain, and other damaging and permanent issues,” the ADA said in a statement.
–Patrick Damp contributed reporting.
Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at CBSNews.com. Previously, she wrote for USA Today, where she was selected to help launch the newspaper’s wellness vertical. She now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News’ HealthWatch.
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