As a self-employed 45 yr old with really good teeth and no health or dental insurance, I neglected visiting the dentist for 15 or so years. I had chipped a front tooth several years ago and had since developed a cavity which was causing discoloration, I also was aware of a small surface cavity on another tooth visible when I smiled.
My vanity won and I called Aspen Dental based on their accepting my dental discount card, their advertising (sucker!), their convenient location, and the speed at which I could get an appointment. When I initially called I told them I wanted my front tooth fixed, which of course I could not get without a complete comprehensive exam and x-rays which were offered for free. At my first appointment I was pleasantly surprised. I was treated respectfully and really liked the dentist.
He told me I had 4 cavities, the 2 that I knew of, and two more. My teeth were in great shape for not seeing the dentist for years, no gum disease, and no major work needing done. I did get a soft sell for their "toothbrush", but I wasn't interested and was not pressured. I was told that he was comfortable filling all 4 teeth at one appointment, and off I went to the "office manager" for my "treatment plan" I was given a plan that included procedure codes, the normal charge, the adjustment offered as a result of my dental discount plan, and my out of pocket expense which was upwards of $600.
I was told I had to pay 60% of the total plan before they would schedule my appointment, which was around $350. I whipped out the credit card. I was scheduled for the following week for 4 fillings, but their hygenist was off that day so I would have to come back for my cleaning. Again no problem for me.
When I arrived for my next appointment, I was told that I needed to pay the balance of my "treatment plan" cost to which I replied that I would only pay in full for what I was scheduled for that day. I charged another $40+. When I got into the dentist's chair, a dentist who I had never seen before introduced herself, looked at my "treatment plan" and said I had 5 cavities and she thought she could do "a few" of them today. When I told her I was told I had 4 and that they could all be done at once she asked to see the xrays and told the assistant to cross one of them off the list, there was no cavity there.
And the work began. After 3 cavities were filled, I was told I could get the other done when I came back for my cleaning. Again no problem. I had alot of roughness after polishing, but couldn't tell exactly how much because I was still numb.
I was told that their "bonding" felt a little rough but might brush off. If additional polishing was needed I could just get it done at my next appointment. I was not offered a mirror even though 2 of the cavities had a cosmetic component to them.
On leaving and stopping at the receptionist's desk to schedule my next appointment, I asked for a statement of the work I had done and how much of a credit I had as I didn't get all the work done that I was scheduled for.
I was told I would have a "big" credit, but she couldn't tell me how much until their system updated after 11PM. I got out my "treatment plan" and asked her if she could identify which procedures I had done, and I could do the math. She said she was not able to do that?!? She had to wait of the "insurance to update overnight".
I don't have insurance, just a dental discount plan. The amounts I was to be charged were clear on my "treatment plan". Nope, she had to wait for the "system to update". HUH?
JUST TELL ME WHICH 3 TEETH I HAD FILLED????? NOPE! Though after some pressuring she could identify with a highlighter the error on my "treatment plan" which was the non-existent 5th cavity. After a pretty civil disagreement, and lots of *** from her, I asked her when exactly I could find out how much of a credit I had, I was told that I could call the next morning after 11AM.
Off I went. I called the next morning and was told that I had a $170 credit. When I asked if I could have either a statement mailed or emailed to me as verification, I was told that I could not. It was against "corporate policy".
AND why again couldn't I get it when I was there????? Because their system had not "updated". I was told I would have to come into the office because it was "corporate policy" that any changes in a "treatment plan" had to be done in person. What change in my "treatment plan"??????
Well, it seems the the deletion of the cavity that I DID NOT HAVE constituted a change in my "treatment plan". When I asked why I was not told that the day before while I was IN THEIR OFFICE, I got no answer. And when I asked if their "corporate policy" allowed exceptions for THEIR ERRORS, again I had to come into the office. She got increasingly rude and I asked to speak to the "office manager".
He got on the phone and kept towing the corporate line. Then began speaking to me like I was a 3 year old!!!! At that point I couldn't get to their office fast enough. I arrived shortly after, was seen by the "office manager" after a short wait.
He didn't say a word except to hand me my new "treatment plan" and a statement saying I had a $170 credit. At which point I asked for a refund of the credit and to cancel my appointment. He said nothing, turned to his computer, worked for a few minutes, turned back and said that the credit was processed but it may take up to 6 weeks to get to my credit card company since it had to go through "corporate". When I asked if I could please have a written statement that the credit had been issued, he literally THREW a piece of paper accross the desk at me!!!!!
When I explained to him why I was so upset and disagreed with their "corporate policy", he said in a raised voice "So I made a mistake! I'm sure you've made a mistake or two in your life!" To which I replied "Absolutely, my most recent mistake was coming here." As soon as I was in my car I called my credit card company. They informed me that their agreement with Aspen Dental required the credit to be issued within 2 weeks. I then called Aspen's corporate office, customer satisfaction line, and on and on.
Long story short, after return calls from corporate, and the district manager, I was still pissed, and still had no explanation of what their "corporate policies" are! I am extremely dissatisfied with the two fillings that are visible and have reluctantly agreed to go to a different office further away to see if they can fix them to my satisfaction. But after reading multiple complaints, I am afraid!!!!
Aspen Dental overcharged me initially due to an "error" on my "treatment plan", requested more money than was due for my second appointment, failed to complete the work that I was scheduled and ALREADY PAID FOR during that appointment, and attempted to confuse me by talking in circles for hours!!!!! After reading multiple complaints, I wonder if I hadn't been paying close attention during the first consultation if I would have ended up with 5 fillings?
As a health care professional, I am outraged that a company offering medical or dental services does not offer their patients a super-bill like statement after EVERY appointment that verifies work completed!!!!!!! Read everything! Sign nothing under pressure! Ask for repeated explanations!
Watch your wallet! If you are elderly, easily confused, hard of hearing, or even nervous, take along and a friend or family member as an advocate! If at all possible, do not pay cash or use their credit services, use a third party credit card so you have some avenue of dispute!!!! Document, Document, Document!!!
Or better yet, find a private dentist through personal referrals and ask them to work with you or try a nearby dental school that offers quality care for reduced fees. DO NO GO TO ASPEN DENTAL!!!!! I have 25 years in the healthcare industry with empahsis on healthcare administration, and it can be complicated. However, their attempts to manipulate, confuse, bully and just plain *** were transparent to me.
Please be vigilant!
You are the last line of defense. I'm so upset by my experience and reading some of your stories that this may be my next advocacy mission!
Location: Export, Pennsylvania
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