If you received a refund from SmileDirectClub in the last few years due to dissatisfaction with their invisible orthodontic aligners and agreed to keep it confidential, you no longer have to stay quiet about it. In a settlement announced last week, SmileDirectClub customers who were previously unable to discuss their negative experiences with the company were released from nondisclosure agreements. That means that around 17,000 dissatisfied consumers are now free to share their complaints publicly, including on social media.
The controversy about at-home orthodontia
Table of Contents
At-home orthodontia is attractive due to its convenience and (much) lower cost compared with braces or aligners that require regular dental visits. SmileDirectClub sends you a DIY impression kit, and all follow-up is conducted via virtual appointment. The total cost is less than half of more traditional aligners or braces that involve in-person orthodontist or dentist appointments. However, patients report mixed results, and dental pros from the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have frequently criticized and even fought to restrict or ban these services.
SmileDirectClub, which offers at-home, direct-to-consumer orthodontic aligners, has received ongoing criticism from customers who are disappointed with the results of the product (at best) or required more dental work to fix problems created by the process (at worst).
Were refunds really tied to nondisclosure agreements?
The New York Times in 2020 reported that SmileDirectClub was requiring customers who requested refunds due to these concerns to sign confidentiality agreements as a condition of receiving their money back, meaning they weren’t allowed to disclose the refund and had to delete negative comments and reviews about the product. SmileDirectClub claimed it didn’t require a nondisclosure if customers requested their refund within 30 days of receiving their aligners.