Can my daughter get out of a “non-refundable” deposit with a dentist?

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Can my daughter get out of a “non-refundable” deposit with a dentist?

My daughter (23) went to a dentist with severe tooth pain and was told she needed to have a root canal and a crown. They also required a signed “non-refundable” deposit of several hundred dollars even though the procedure is not until next Tuesday. After she told me how much the dentist was going to charge, I checked around and found that his fees were far above normal for this area. Can my daughter get her money back?

Asked on June 2, 2009 under Business Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

It all depends on EXACTLY what the paper she signed says and what the rules of the dental profession are in Oklahoma. If she paid by cash and he reserved the time he's likely entitled to be paid. If she paid by credit card she can try to dispute the charges, but non-refundable means non-refundable and the fact this dentist charges more would not be grounds to make it refundable unless the charge he makes is unconscionable.

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I'm not an Oklahoma lawyer, but my research didn't find anything suggesting that this is out-and-out unlawful.  You might want to check with the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, or a local attorney.  One place to look for a lawyer is our website, http://attorneypages.com

It's possible that this is lawful, especially if the dentist is ordering the crown from a dental laboratory, as most offices do, because the dentist probably has to pay for that once it's ordered.  Also, a root canal takes up a significant period of time, and the dentist's income depends on having his calendar filled;  he may well lose another patient who wants to see someone quickly, because he doesn't have that time on Tuesday open.


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