My wife saw a dentist for a cleaning, and he wanted to do an orthodontic consultation. She informed him that our insurance would not pay for the consult, so he offered the service for free. Yet, he has billed us and continues to add late fees. What is the best resolution? –L. Stallings, Philadelphia
A mentor once told me, “If it’s not in writing, then it doesn’t exist.” Although it’s a bit late to enact this mantra, remember it the next time a “free” service is offered.
Nonetheless, you do have some recourse. Assuming the dentist practices in Pennsylvania, contact the Pennsylvania Department of State Professional Compliance Office (www.dos.state.pa.us).
Its Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs regulates those holding licenses in industries such as accounting and dentistry. “It would be up to the board in terms of the disciplinary action taken against the dentist,” says Cathy Ennis, deputy press secretary for the Department of State for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Although the punishment will not likely involve his suspension or the revoking of his license, the board may persuade him to let the service stand as free.
To file a complaint, log on at the above Web address (click “File a Complaint”), or call 1-800-822-2113. Be prepared to provide supporting documentation.
Mail your consumer empowerment questions to Ask Your Advocate, BLACK ENTERPRISE, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.