Bankrupt SmileDirectClub shuts down, says its ‘Lifetime Smile Guarantee’ is canceled — but Smile Pay users are expected to keep paying

William of England
By William of England 4 Min Read

In a Friday announcement, SmileDirectClub mentioned it had made an “incredibly difficult decision to wind down its global operations, effective immediately.”

That leaves current prospects in limbo. SmileDirectClub’s aligner therapy by way of its telehealth platform is now not obtainable, the Nashville, Tennessee, firm said whereas urging shoppers to seek the advice of their native dentist for additional therapy. Customer care assist for the corporate has additionally ceased.

Customer orders that haven’t shipped but have been cancelled and “Lifetime Smile Guarantee” now not exists, the corporate mentioned. SmileDirectClub apologized for the inconvenience and mentioned extra details about refund requests will arrive “once the bankruptcy process determines next steps and additional measures customers can take.”

SmileDirectClub additionally mentioned that Smile Pay prospects are expected to proceed to make funds, main to additional confusion and frustration on-line. When contacted by The Associated Press Monday for extra data, a spokesperson mentioned the corporate couldn’t remark additional.

SmileDirectClub filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety on the finish of September. At the time, the corporate reported practically $900 million in debt. On Friday, the corporate mentioned it was unable to discover a accomplice keen to herald sufficient capital to keep the corporate afloat, regardless of a monthslong search.

When SmileDirectClub went public again in 2019, the corporate was valued at about $8.9 billion. But its inventory quickly tumbled and plummeted in worth over time, as the corporate proved to be unprofitable 12 months after 12 months and confronted a number of authorized battles. In 2022, SmileDirectClub reported a loss of $86.4 million.

SmileDirectClub, which has served over 2 million individuals since its 2014 founding, as soon as promised to revolutionaize the oral care trade by promoting clear dental aligners (marketed as a sooner and extra inexpensive different to braces) straight to shoppers by mail and in major retailers. But the corporate has additionally seen pushback from inside and past the medical group.

Last 12 months, District of Columbia lawyer common’s workplace sued SmileDirectClub for “unfair and deceptive” practices — accusing the corporate of unlawfully utilizing non-disclosure agreements to manipulate on-line critiques and keep prospects from reporting unfavorable experiences to regulators. SmileDirectClub denied the allegations, but agreed to a June settlement settlement that required the corporate to launch over 17,000 prospects from the NDAs and pay $500,000 to D.C.

The British Dental Association has additionally been vital about SmileDirectClub and such distant orthodontics — pointing to instances of superior gum illness supplied with aligners, misdiagnosis dangers and extra in a Sunday post on X, the platform previously often called Twitter.

“It shouldn’t have taken a bankruptcy to protect patients from harm,” the British Dental Association wrote, whereas calling on U.Ok. regulators for elevated protections. “Dentists are left to pick up the pieces when these providers offer wholly inappropriate treatment.”

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