INDIANAPOLIS – At least 10 Immediadent locations are closed across the state after the franchise shut down March 17, 2020.
Albert Ferguson isn’t happy. He paid the urgent dental care service $453 for a new set of dentures in February. He went to several appointments and was promised new teeth within three months.
Then coronavirus hit, and dental services shut down. Ferguson didn’t think much about it. His next appointment was scheduled for June 10. When he showed up, though, the place was locked up and the signs had been removed.
“I called the office, the nine-thousand number, and all I got was a recording,” he explained. “I didn’t get nobody, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
Ferguson called CBS4 asking for help. He wanted his money back for the services they did not render.
“What kind of business are they running when they give a person appointments and the place is shut up?” he asked.
Immediadent sent him a letter in May 2020:
We are contacting you in a final attempt to complete treatment. Unfortunately, despite several attempts, we have been unsuccessful in delivering your lab case that was started with us. Though our officers are temporarily closed, we are currently taking appointments to see patients once we are re-open. If we are unable to make an appointment in the next 30 days to complete your treatment, you will be responsible for the full cost of services even if you choose not to complete treatment.”
The notice went on to reiterate Ferguson’s financial agreement.
In June, though, after Ferguson realized the 38th Street location had shut down and had filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, he got a letter from Samson Dental Partners. Online, Samson says it “offers a variety of services including administrative, human resource, technology, marketing and more to Immediadent teams.”
The patient paid for both the services performed up to that day as well as prepaying for the future visit. The follow-up treatment was never fully performed.
We agree the patient is due a refund, however, not the full entire disputed amount. The patient’s insurance denied part of the initial visit seen, causing the patient to have partial responsibility for the first date’s services. Per our records the patient is due a refund of $394.50.
Ferguson said that was the last he heard from anyone. He claims he never got a refund.
“I want my money back because I’m 93 years old,” he said. “I was trying to get me a new denture to at least try to enjoy my food.”
Ferguson said the dentures he has now don’t fit correctly and affect how he talks and eats.
CBS4 tried calling and messaging Immediadent but never got a response.
Online, there was speculation that Immediadent was rebranding as “Bright Tiger Dental.” Sure enough, there are new signs on the doors along 38th Street.
We called the new franchise.
The state’s Consumer Protection Division weighed in, warning that they are getting more and more complaints regarding businesses that took people’s money and then closed. That could be, in part, due to the financial struggles some have experienced during coronavirus and the resulting shutdown. They are telling Hoosiers to not pay all at once.
“We think you should split up payments so that one is after service, maybe a deposit or something. That’s pretty typical, but avoid paying everything up front just in case something happens and the business is unable to perform. You don’t want to be left without any recourse,” Deputy Director Connie Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist said while there are certain types of transactions that are required to allow a three-day refund policy, dental services is not one of them.
“The first thing a consumer should do if they become aware a business is not going to be able to perform services is notify their credit card company or contact their bank because as soon as you know the business wont perform, you should ask for a reverse of charges,” she advised.
Ferguson did that and luckily, his credit card company has agreed to refund the money until the matter is sorted out. He’s afraid, though, that this issue will never be resolved.
“I may still have to pay.”