Several home orthodontic treatment clients are all but smiling after the company pulled out of New Zealand.
Fair Go has received many complaints about Smile Direct Club, with many customers unable to contact the company and fearing for their future dental care.
The US-based company moved here to New Zealand in 2019, offering an alternative to traditional braces. He had two stores in Auckland and Christchurch, but the whole process could be done from home – without visiting an orthodontist or dentist.
Laurence Boyd signed a four-month plan to straighten her teeth, which included delivering a full set of clear aligners to her doorstep.
He says he’s gone from a “four month promise of straight teeth to now…15 months. Plus another two months of another correction”.
As part of Smile Direct’s “Lifetime Guarantee”, customers can call a healthcare professional remotely to see if they need new aligners. Laurence ended up asking for two more sets after having further difficulty getting the braces to fit his teeth – and during that time he suddenly couldn’t reach customer service on the phone.
Smile Direct Club ceased operations in New Zealand and seven other countries in January this year to help save money.
In a statement to Fair Go, Smile Direct Club said its current customer service levels were “below the high expectations we have set for ourselves and our customers expect”.
He indicates that the staff has been increased and that the response time is now approximately three days.
However, now that the company has pulled out of New Zealand, parts of its “lifetime warranty” have been cut short.
“Club members who have completed treatment will no longer have the option of requesting touch-ups for life after their current treatment has ended.”
He says his claims that treatment takes as little as four to six months are based on the duration of typical plans and that “all advertisements for this claim clearly state that ‘individual results may vary'”.
Customers having difficulty getting in touch with Smile Direct Club can email: [email protected]