How do I handle a bait and switch confrontation with a dental office?

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How do I handle a bait and switch confrontation with a dental office?

I was a victim in a bait and switch operation. I was told my exam, X-rays, and a cleaning were going to be charged under a new customers $59 package special. I ended up having to pay 1000% more, at the total of $665 for just a deeper cleaning. There was no place where anyone informed me properly of how much more the charge would be; they said they felt obligated to continue with the deeper cleaning. They felt they made a mistake by not thoroughly telling me the price before doing the service so they only took $100 off of my bill. I still find this unfair, unreasonable and a scam.

Asked on September 19, 2011 under General Practice, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the dentist won't give you back your money--or least enoug of  it that you are satisfied--you could sue the dentist, such as in small claims court, where you could act as your own attorney (to avoid legal fees). The issue would then be based on the facts and testimony of both sides, since IF you had authorized a deeper cleaning, knowing it was more than was covered under the $59 package, you could be held responsible for the charges even if you did not inquire first into exactly what they were. So the issue will turn on who told what or said what to whom, when. However, since initiating a case in small claims court is inexpensive (usually $25 to $50), you may wish to consider doing so if you believe in good faith that you were defrauded by not having the fact of additional charges pointed out  to you; at a minium, filing the lawsuit may spur the office to negotiate seriously with you for some mutually acceptable settlement.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I agree and I hope that you signed nothing and paid nothing indicating that you would be charged more that the $59.00.  I would contact the state attorney general's consumer affairs division and file a complaint.  I would also file a complaint with the state licensing board that licenses dentists. Even if you did sign something do not panic.  You were placed in an unfair position and that is an important fact for the judge to know.  Also, they had an obligation to advise you they had to do a "Deeper cleaning" and should have stopped and given you the option under full disclosure.  Pay nothing more.  Go after them.  Good luck.


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