Sunday, July 01, 2012

Aspen Dental Defrauding the poor and elderly esposed


$2,540 for 2 fillings? Poor hit by high fees at chain

By David Heath

The Center for Public Integrity

updated 7/1/2012 2:41:00 PM ET

Surviving on a meager $1,300 a month, 87-year-old Theresa Ferritto fretted about the cost when her dentist told her she needed two teeth pulled.

She figured an oral surgeon would be too expensive. So she decided to try out a dental chain that promoted steep discounts in its advertisements. She went to an Aspen Dental office just outside Cleveland.

Ferritto said Aspen Dental wouldn’t just pull the teeth but insisted on a complete exam. She was bewildered when they finally handed her a treatment planfour pages long. Total price: $7,835.

Ferritto could not afford it, but Aspen Dental signed her up for a special credit card, with monthly payments of $186 for five years. She blames herself for signing the papers.

“I made a big mistake going there,” she says. “I should have known better.”

After a day of cleanings and two fillings, Ferritto asked her son for help. He called Aspen Dental to complain but said he got nowhere. So they turned to the state Attorney General.

Aspen Dental took all charges off her credit card for treatments she hadn’t yet received. But said the $2,540 she was charged for two fillings and cleanings was appropriate.

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