DC files suit against SmileDirectClub over refund policies

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said his office has filed a lawsuit against online orthodontics company SmileDirectClub over its customer refund policy.

The lawsuit alleges the company violated District law by requiring customers to sign nondisclosure agreements, prohibiting customers from posting negative reviews and removing any negative social media complaints already posted. The company also barred customers from filing complaints with government regulators or law enforcement if they wanted to receive a refund after 30 days.

The NDAs carried violation policies that included fines of up to $10,000 per violation, Racine said.

The lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers, civil penalties, fees and costs.

WTOP has reached out to SmileDirectClub for comment.

Racine said consumer complaints filed about SmileDirectClub with the Better Business Bureau have included reports of painful or permanent damage to teeth as a result of using the company’s mail order clear dental teeth aligners, which appeal to lower-income consumers as an alternative to more expensive braces.

“SmileDirectClub’s ‘Lifetime Smile Guarantee’ was a sham,” Racine said. “Far from providing promised refunds with no strings attached, the company forced consumers to sign NDAs to get any money back after the first 30 days. These consumers were promised perfect smiles, but many suffered pain or didn’t see improvements.”

A copy of the full D.C. complaint is posted online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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