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Alex J. Esq.
Alex J. Esq., Attorney at Law
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 12322
Experience:  Experienced Licensed Attorney
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My daughter was evaluated for Invisalign which are braces.

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My daughter was evaluated for Invisalign which are braces. The dentist had a financial counselor meet with her to explain the charges. There was not fees for this treatment advertised so cost was a concern. The financial counselor explained that the total cost of treatment would be $700. She had my daughter sign a financial worksheet with the total cost for 6 months of Invisalign treatment, no finance charges. This was in August of 2012. My daughter told them that she would think about it. In January she went back to the dentist and had a great deal of dental work completed. Her dental insurance paid for part of the cost and she paid cash for the balance. In addition, they told her she had been approved as a candidate for Invisalign and asked if she was ready to take that treatment. Since she had enough money on her Flex card she she scheduled the treatment and paid the $700 up front. She spend several hours in the dentist chair and when they finished putting the retainers on and she was about to leave the front desk clerk asked her if she was going to pay on her bill. She told them she had paid the balance up front. She was then told she had a remaining balance of $3600. She was so shocked she started crying and the office manager told her they would not remove the braces if she would agree to pay $300 per month. She has come to me and asked if I will cosign for a Care Credit Card. I have refused and told her we needed to contact an attorney. I have a copy of the financial estimate which is signed by the dentist's financial counselor. It states "6 month invisalyn treatment" Total Cost $700 no finance charges. My daughter has paid $800 over the past 2 months and has received a statement showing finance charges at approximately 15%/month. I contacted the office manager and asked for an explanation. She states the financial counselor has been terminated and she was sorry for the error. However they still expect payment but they are willing to accept whatever she can pay and will refund the finance charges. The office manager told me she could see my daughter was very upset when she found out she was responsible for such a large balance but she assured her they would not remove the braces if she would agree to continue with treatment and pay the balance. I asked why there were not any documents signed and my daughter told up front what the cost would be before they put her in the chair. She said it was just a mistake. I asked her if they would go ahead and remove the braces and she said my daughter was almost through with the treatment and they would not be able to credit very much to the balance. Any suggestion on what my daughter is legally bound to pay on this bill will be appreciated.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Hello. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X will be happy to answer your question.]

I am very sorry to hear about this terrible situation.

Can you please tell me how long is the entire treatment and did your daughter only receive 2 months of treatment?

Was this issue addressed with the doctor directly?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Treatment started 5 months ago. The dentist never discussed the issue with my daughter. My daughter was going to try to qualify for a Care Credit card at the suggestion of the office manager but found she couldn't without a consigner. She came to me and told me the situation. She then asked me to consign for the card since they continued to ask for more payment than she could afford. I told her I wanted to talk with the dentist first. When I asked the office manager yesterday if the dentist was aware of this issue and she said she was aware. My daughter had paid $700, then $500 the next month, $300 the next and $100. This is all the money she has do now they are expecting more. She is scared to go back since she is embarrassed by the whole situation. She is willing to pay the dentist but it will take longer since she can't afford such a large payment each month. She only Makes $12 an hour and is a single parent. I want to help her do what is right in this situation. I told the office manager they should have never put her in that chair until the had discussed the additional charges and had my daughter sign accepting responsibility for the additional cost. And to threaten to take the braces off when they found their financial counselor made an error just seems extreme. After spending several hours in the chair and then being told you have to pay an additional $3600 but it's not your fault since someone else is responsible for the mistake??? I am having a hard time understanding the right way to help her handle this. I will not consign for a high interest credit card.
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your follow up.

This is unfortunately a difficult situation, since when your daughter found out that the office financial manager did make mistake, your daughter could have simply either insisted on the office providing the service at an agreed estimated price or simply could have refused to follow through with the service.

While I do understand as to how it was a very uncomfortable and difficult situation that your daughter was put into by this dental office, when she was told to either pay additional $3600 or to give up braces and further service, unfortunately if you daughter did agree to make additional payments and continued treatment, that fact would be considered that your daughter acquiesced to the fact that there was a mistake made and to the correct price.

At this point, it might be a good idea to talk to the dentist and the office manager and simply arrange for a payment plan that your daughter can afford and that is mutually acceptable without any interest. So this way your daughter can continue her monthly treatment and at the same time can make an affordable interest-free monthly payment, rather than deal with the stress of having a past due bill or high interested credit cards.

If the office manager refuses to accommodate your daughter's request for an affordable interest-free monthly payment, then your daughter can also file a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau and also with North Carolina Attorney General Office.

I wish you and your daughter the best of luck!
Alex J. Esq., Attorney at Law
Satisfied Customers: 12322
Experience: Experienced Licensed Attorney
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