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May 27, 2024

SmileDirectClub, which provides orthodontic services by mail, has agreed to release customers who requested refunds under non-disclosure agreements as part of a settlement with the District of Columbia Attorney General.

Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb said the settlement announced Thursday allows 17,000 customers to speak publicly about their experiences with SmileDirectClub aligners. The company had previously asked customers who wanted a refund to agree not to discuss their experience and to remove negative social media posts about the company.

In 2020, The New York Times reported that SmileDirectClub tied non-disclosure agreements to partial refunds. The District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office sued the company in 2022, accusing it of preventing customers injured by its services from filing complaints with regulators or law enforcement.

“SmileDirectClub promises an easy, safe and affordable way to straighten teeth and touts five-star reviews, but behind the scenes, the company suppresses disgruntled consumers and covers up complaints that its products cause harm,” Schwab said in a statement.

SmileDirectClub also agreed to pay $500,000 and said in the settlement that it did not violate the law or engage in unfair or deceptive conduct.

Susan Greenspon Rammelt, SmileDirectClub’s chief legal officer, said in a statement that the claim that the company was trying to block negative feedback from consumers was a “misinformation campaign.” She said the company does not require customers to sign non-disclosure agreements if they request a refund within 30 days of receiving the aligners, and those agreements are negotiable.

The company said its release form was modeled on that used by the orthodontic industry and that it had plans to “tighten the terms of confidentiality”.

SmileDirectClub’s services are less expensive than traditional orthodontics because they typically don’t involve in-person visits, but have drawn criticism from dentists and orthodontic groups.company owned be accused Some of these critics and defendant The Dental Board of California Conspires to Kill Competition.

SmileDirectClub went public in 2019, raising $1.29 billion at a valuation of nearly $9 billion. As a public company, it is not yet profitable. Its shares have fallen below $1 a share, valuing it at $166 million.



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