INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 22, 2015) – Allegations of deceptive advertising and unfair promotional tactics resulted in a settlement between the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and Aspen Dental.
Under terms of the settlement filed in court Thursday, affected customers will receive a total of $15,000 in restitution. The settlement follows an investigation into the dental care provider’s advertising techniques. The company has agreed to reform its advertising.
New York-based Aspen Dental Management licenses the Aspen Dental brand to practices across the country, including locations in Indianapolis, Greenwood, Kokomo, Marion, Warsaw, Fort Wayne, Muncie, Columbus and Richmond. The individual practices aren’t part of the settlement.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Aspen Dental Management marketed free or discounted denture consultations, dentures, initial exams and x-rays at Indiana practices without adequately disclosing limitations or qualifications for the offers. The office also questioned whether patients were given enough information about interest-free payment plans offered through third-party creditors.
The Attorney General’s Office received 73 complaints about Aspen Dental, many of them from Hoosiers over the age of 60.
Under the terms of the settlement, Aspen will have to disclose the terms and limitations of its promotions and stop advertising services as “free” when they’re not. The company must also provide additional training so employees understand the terms of the company’s offers and pass that information to patients.
Aspen must pay $95,000 to the state, $15,000 of which will go to repay customers. The rest will go toward state investigative costs and future consumer protection enforcement.
Customers who previously filed complaints with the Attorney General’s Office related to the case and did not previously receive restitution from Aspen Dental Management will be offered restitution. The Attorney General’s Office will contact those customers within 30 days following court approval of the settlement.
Aspen Dental Management provided the following statement:
ADMI cooperated fully with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General but we disagree with their conclusions. The OAG itself acknowledges that many of the issues were addressed by ADMI prior to settlement. Also, it is important to note that the 73 complaints cited by the OAG were received over a 9-year period during which the 30 independently-owned Aspen Dental practices in Indiana provided care to more than 338,000 individual patients. We are proud of the fine work the Aspen Dental practices we support do every day to help improve America’s oral health.