Aspen Dental to pay $175,000 settlement in Pa. for misleading ads

dentist looking into your mouthAspen Dental Management Inc. has agreed to pay $175,000 to Pennsylvania to settle allegations that it mislead consumers with information about discounts, coupons, free denture consultations and other promotions, said state Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The East Syracuse, N.Y.-based Aspen Dental has more than 250 offices in 21 states, including 32 independently owned in Pennsylvania. Corbett said the Attorney General's Office received more than 50 complaints from consumers over Aspen Dental's business practices.

"Consumers went to Aspen Dental because they believed they could obtain low-cost solutions to their dental problems, only to be faced with confusing limitations and restrictions on coupons and other promotions, or undisclosed details about financing," Corbett said.

According to the terms of the settlement, Aspen Dental will pay $125,000 in restitution to consumers who have claims for products or services bought on or before May 28, 2009. The rest will go to the state for its consumer protection program.

In a statement to Consumer Ally, Aspen Dental said it was in discussions with Pennsylvania regulators for more than a year and is "pleased to have reached the agreement." Aspen Dental said it "expanded our education and training programs for Aspen Dental office teams and revised our patient forms, advertising and marketing materials. We also made significant investments in patient satisfaction and established new protocols to help resolve any issues quickly and effectively. These changes helped Aspen Dental offices earn national accreditation and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau earlier this year."

The statement also said Aspen Dental was "disappointed" there were about 50 complaints, but in 2009, Aspen Dental practices had almost 353,000 patient visits in Pennsylvania alone.

Corbett said anyone who may have a claim against Aspen Dental should file a formal complaint before Nov. 12 by calling the state at (877) 888-4877 or through an online claim form.
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