Aspen Dental, a national dentistry chain with at least 27 Massachusetts locations, agreed to pay $990,000 to settle allegations by Attorney General Martha Coakley that it defrauded consumers.
Under the agreement, Aspen Dental will provide at least $770,000 in restitution to first-time customers that the state alleged were forced to pay for exams and x-rays that the company said would be free. The company will contact people who are eligible for refunds, and it will also pay the Commonwealth $220,000.
Aspen Dental, which operates in Massachusetts under two corporate identities that were named in the suit, also agreed to change its billing practices. Specifically, the company agreed to limit pre-payments, to provide accurate estimates of charges, and to disclose details of financing agreements.
“Under this settlement, affected consumers will get the relief they deserve and Aspen will be prevented from continuing these unlawful practices in the Commonwealth,” Coakley said in a statement.
In a statement, Aspen Dental Management, Inc. said its franchises “strongly disagree with and deny the attorney general’s allegations but cooperated fully and ultimately agreed to resolve the matter” on fair terms.
The company, which markets itself to low-income consumers who do not regularly see a dentists, has been the subject of investigative reports and a Congressional inquiry into corporate dentistry chains since 2012.Jack Newsham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.