Monday, January 27, 2020

SmileDirectClub is Using Legal Shenanigans to Stop Bad Online Reviews


I’ve never been a fan of “do it yourself healthcare”.  My grandpa Flucke used to always say, “Experience is what you get 5 seconds after you needed it in the first place.”  My grandpa wasn’t in healthcare, but he was a pretty smart guy when it came to knowing his limitations.  He ran a chain of small grocery stores in the Kansas City area and was pretty successful at it.  His philosophy was: work hard, do your best, treat your customers they way you want to be treated.

My grandpa could’ve taught a lot of people how to run a successful business… and one of them is Smile Direct Club.

SDC has a business model of DTC (Direct To Consumer) orthodontics.  Basically the process is for a patient to take their own impressions, send them in to the company, and the company then sends back tooth moving aligners.  In *some* cases teeth are scanned in a retail outlet to replace the impressions.

The real problem is that as the treatment progresses, there is NO doctor involved.  Experience is HUGE in healthcare.  Not having a doctor involved in the treatment progression is begging to have things go off the rails.

Now comes news that when things DO go off the rails, the only way you get your money back is by  removing all negative comments from social media AND signing an ironclad agreement stating you will not say anything about the company.  That’s a heck of a way to prove your commitment to patient satisfaction.  And there is no need to take my word for it, you can read about it online via The Verge and the New York Times.

Part of the non-disclosure that was included in the New York Times article states “will not make, publish, or communicate any statements or opinions that would disparage, create a negative impression of, or in any way be harmful to the business or business reputation of SDC or its affiliates or their respective employees, officers, directors, products, or services.”  Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like a company that wants to control you AND might just have something to hide.

SDC has done a lot of marketing around the idea that doctors are costly and not needed to perform the treatment, but I’ve never heard of doctor’s requiring non-disclosure agreements when things don’t work out.  Anyone who uses their legal team to force you to keep quiet… well that’s not the kind of company I’d want to do business with, let alone let them change parts of my body.

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