Manager 'will never confidently smile' after Smile Direct shuts

EXCLUSIVE I paid £1,000 to have my teeth straightened with Smile Direct – now they’ve gone bust and I’m only half-way through treatment: HR manager, 31, says he ‘will never confidently smile’ after remote dentistry firm shuts

  • Matt Coles, 31, said he’s ‘back at square one’ now Smile Direct has gone bust 

British customers of the US-based Smile Direct Club dentistry company that sold ‘DIY’ braces and sent them in the post are ‘back at square one’ after it went bust – left feeling they will never be able to smile confidently.

Some customers who were signed up to Smile Direct say they’ve spent thousands on their treatment but they still haven’t had their teeth fixed.

They’re also worried about their payment plans, because if they cancel it this will affect their credit score, but they don’t want to pay a company which ‘no longer exists’.

The controversial company was offering aligners for around £1,800 without the need to visit a dentist – before a final attempt to save the business failed after it was weighed down by debt.

Matt Coles, who signed up to Smile Direct in January of this year, said he was promised a ‘better smile in six months’.

But nearly a year later, he’s paid £970 and his ‘smile still isn’t straight’.

The 31-year-old has £1,000 left on his payment plan and if he cancels the direct debit he is worried about what this will mean for his credit score.  

Matt Coles (pictured) is one of the customers left stranded by Smile Direct going bust

Mr Coles, who signed up to Smile Direct in January of this year, said he was promised a ‘better smile in six months’ but a year later his teeth still haven’t been fixed

Customers in the UK and elsewhere have been left stranded after the firm said its customer support line will no longer be available, even though customers might require adjustments or check-ins for their aligners.

The company said that those who want to continue their treatment should contact a local dentist.

Those on payment plans are expected to keep making payments to the company, even though they are no longer receiving their promised ‘lifetime smile guarantee’.

Mr Coles, a HR manager, told MailOnline: ‘Nearly a year has passed and it is still not fixed because they go through a certain amount of refinements first. 

‘At the end of my second set it still hadn’t been fixed and now they’ve gone bust and I’m out quite a lot of money. They haven’t done what they promised. It is a bit tricky – we’re not being told anything. There has been no communication. 

‘I have got 12 months left on my payment plan and if I stop paying it’ll affect my credit rating. I feel like should I stop paying for it as they don’t exist anymore. There is a lot of uncertainty, I just don’t know what is next. I doubt I’ll get a refund as they’re millions of pounds in debt.’

Treatments with the business typically take between just four to six months

He said he doesn’t mind the money he has already paid as he was getting a service but he doesn’t want to continue making payments now the company has gone bust and won’t be continuing the treatment. 

He added: ‘If I go to another service like Invisalign I’ll have to go through the whole process again. 

‘I found out about Smile Direct going bust through a Facebook group – someone was struggling to get in touch with them and the website only had FAQs listed. It’s all been really badly managed.

‘I have been left with teeth that still aren’t straight and I will continue to have to pay for them for another year, even though they have not done what they promised. 

‘It’s really sad. I’m incredibly self-conscious of how my smile is – it has had a detrimental effect on my life.  I thought I was finally getting somewhere but now I’m back to square one. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to do this.

‘I’ve been so self-conscious of my teeth for many years. I finally managed to be able to afford to get them straightened and the rug has been pulled out from under me so I’m left feeling like I will never be able to have the confidence to smile. 

‘At this stage we all have been left with nowhere to turn.’

British customers of the US-based Smile Direct Club dentistry have been left in the dark

Smile Direct differed from traditional dentistry which sees orthodontists or dentists fit ‘train-track’ braces and clear aligners after an in-person consultation.

Customers were drawn to Smile Direct Club, founded in 2014, because of its low prices compared to regular forms of teeth straightening.

Treatments with the business typically take between just four to six months and customers receive online check-ins with dentists.

Oliver Jones, from Cambridge, paid £1639 spread over a year for his treatment.

The 33-year-old told MailOnline: ‘I am optimistic that they may refund me some of the money, I’ve received an email response from Tabeo (the finance company), asking for more information regarding my case.

‘The roots on our canine teeth are just too strong to be moved over time by a bit of plastic. I feel as though I have had as much movement on my bottom teeth as possible using clear aligners.

‘Smile Direct convinced me to carry on with four sets of remedial works, covered by the lifetime guarantee. But now they have gone bust and I no longer have any support.

‘People that are just at the start of their treatment must be worried as there is no support in place if anything goes wrong.’

Another Smile Direct Club customer from the UK, Ian Harris, told MailOnline he just paid £1,800 to Smile Direct Club for aligners he fears he will now not receive.

READ MORE – Online dentistry firm SmileDirectClub closes down after going bust – leaving UK customers ‘in the dark’ over their £1,800 DIY braces 

‘It looks like I’m going to lose £1,800 that I just paid to Smile Direct Club. I went to visit them in Aldgate, London to get some wonky teeth fixed. They took 3D scans of my teeth and seemed really professional. But today I read on the MailOnline they’ve gone bust,’ he claimed.

‘Because I paid in full on a debit card, I won’t get any money back.

‘They did give me a free branded lip balm – who knows, maybe that’ll be worth something one day!’

Another customer from the UK, Gill, told MailOnline she is waiting for a set of aligners which she paid £200 for.

‘Don’t expect there is much chance of me getting either the aligners or a refund,’ she said.

‘Having been a customer since 2021 I was very pleased with the results. However I felt I needed a top up programme and they agreed to this about three weeks ago. I paid £200 for the top up aligners which I assume will now be cancelled.

‘I feel very guilty as I recommended several friends all of whom have paid out significant sums of money and who are awaiting their aligners.’

A third customer, named Marva, told MailOnline: ‘I took out Smile Direct last year. 

‘From the beginning the aligners did not work. I emailed repeatedly to the company with no response.

‘When I saw that they were still advertising I answered one of the adverts and told them that it was only way for me to get in contact with them. They say they will refund but I haven’t received any money yet.’

In the statement on its website, Smile Direct Club apologised for the inconvenience caused.

They wrote: ‘SmileDirectClub has made the incredibly difficult decision to wind down its global operations, effective immediately.

‘For new customers interested in SmileDirectClub services, thank you for your interest, but aligner treatment is no longer available through our telehealth platform.

‘For existing customers, we apologize for the inconvenience, but customer care support is no longer available. Thank you for your support and letting us improve over two million smiles and lives.’

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