Invisalign thinks SmileDirectClub has more than crooked teeth to worry about. Align Technology, Inc., the creators of the Invisalign teeth correction system, have filed a lawsuit in California claiming that its #1 competitor SmileDirectClub (SDC) is pulling the wool over the consumer’s eyes when it advertises that it’s affiliated with real, honest to goodness dentists and orthodontists.
In trying to curry comparative favor, Align says its model "empowers dentists and orthodontists to correct teeth with clear plastic aligners" whereas Smile Direct Club's direct-to-consumer model claims to "offer consumers an equivalent product through which SDC’s dentists supposedly treat and monitor patients digitally from afar."
"Regrettably, SDC founded its business on a dangerous lie—telling consumers through television, online, email, print, and retail advertising that they will receive actual medical supervision from actual doctors, responsible for their wellbeing. SDC promises patients 'the same level of care” they receive from inperson medical care,'" the lawsuit said.
In a statement, SmileDirect said that Align’s allegations are baseless and that it will “vigorously defend itself” in court.
Align has its own issues to worry about. The company is looking at a class action lawsuit of its own, alleging it monopolized the market for invisible plastic aligners.
Consumers have the right to air a grievance if they think they were hoodwinked
Whether it’s getting your crooked teeth fixed or if something you buy doesn't work like they said it would, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says consumers should file a complaint if they believe that a company isn’t telling the truth about what their product can do. If the agency feels there’s merit to the complaint, it can go to court to try to get the company to change how it markets its product.
“OK, maybe it's not as exciting as some of the court shows you see on TV, but the idea is the same: The FTC makes its case," the agency said. "The advertiser responds. And the judge rules. Sometimes the judge may make the advertiser give money back to the people who bought the product, but that can take a long time — and it's not a sure thing.”
But, if you’re really fed up with a company’s advertising grin vs. its product’s performance, the FTC says the first thing to do is to contact the company and the store where you bought the product.
“Don't be mean about it, but be firm,” the agency said, and first ask for your money back because the product doesn't do what it was advertised to. If that doesn't work, file a complaint at ftc.gov.