SmileDirectClub settles DC complaint over policy that prohibited negative reviews

SmileDirectClub will be required to release 17,000 customers across the U.S. from its nondisclosure agreements, which prohibited them from posting negative reviews of the company’s orthodontics products, as part of a settlement with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.

SmileDirectClub will also change its refund policy, which barred customers from filing complaints with government regulators if they wanted to receive a refund after 30 days.

The company will pay $500,000 to the District for violating D.C.’s consumer protection laws as well.

The D.C. Office of Attorney General filed suit against the company in December.

“SmileDirectClub promised a simple, safe and affordable way to straighten teeth and touted five-star reviews, but behind the scenes, the company silenced dissatisfied consumers and buried complaints about injuries caused by its products,” said Attorney General Brian Schwalb. “SmileDirectClub can no longer use NDAs to silence consumers as a prerequisite for seeking refunds, and thousands of customers across the country will be released from gag provisions in agreements they previously signed.”

The NDAs also required consumers to delete negative reviews and social media posts in order to receive a refund.

Moving forward, SmileDirectClub agreed not to make NDAs part of its refund policy, except in cases involving litigation.

A copy of the settlement is 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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