SmileDirectClub has allegedly misled customers on private health insurance reimbursements for its teeth aligners, the ACCC asserts.
According to the competition watchdog, between May 2019 and October 2020 the dental aligner retailer told customers they may be eligible for a reimbursement for its products and treatment from their health funds, even though most private health funds do not cover the business’ products.
“We allege that consumers could not make a fully informed decision about the total cost of the aligner treatment, because SmileDirectClub’s statements left them with the understanding that part of it would be covered by their private health insurer,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“It is a breach of Australian Consumer Law for companies to make false or misleading statements about the benefits or rights associated with products and services.”
The business also told customers who had filed an insurance inquiry that they would be eligible for a reimbursement after they had finished paying in full, and that they had contacted the insurer in question.
“We consider that the alleged misleading representations about eligibility for a health fund reimbursement for these aligners and treatment are particularly concerning,” Sims said.
“Affected consumers did not discover that they would not receive any health insurance reimbursement until after the SmileDirectClub treatment had been paid for in full.”
SmileDirectClub operates seven stores across Australia in NSW, QLD, SA, VIC and WA, and operates online.
The business’ local VP, Jason Coglan, said SmileDirectClub is disappointed that the ACCC has commenced the proceedings.
“SmileDirectClub has established partnerships with many of the largest private health insurance companies in the United States, Canada and the EU to ensure the access to orthodontic care it enables is a covered treatment and is even more affordable to consumers. It continues to be our position that this should be true in Australia,” Coglan said.
“We are focused on partnering with the private health insurance companies so that Australian customers can maximise their health benefits through access to teledentistry.”