I was suspecting this, and then I ran into this story from The New York Times published in late January, about SmileDirectClub and how they are squelching negative reviews.
What I had noticed was that when I looked for online reviews about SmileDirectClub, most of the sites seemed to be tied commercially to the SmileDirectClub company. But I did find a review site, highya.com, that appeared to have some unfiltered independent reviews, and they were overwhelmingly negative. That was in January. When I went back and looked last month, the reviews were overwhelmingly highly positive. Since they order their reviews by date, I drilled down into the reviews, and found that this change in tone happened January 10, the day after I published my post!
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The article in The New York Times confirms my suspicions that SmileDirectClub has been very aggressive in managing reviews and attempting to squelch any negative ones. When someone complains about their results, the company will offer them a pro-rated refund in exchange for a contract in which they agree to first, take down any negative reviews or comments they may have posted online, and further, “Releasor further covenants and agrees that he/she will not make, publish, or communicate any statements or opinions that would disparage, create a negative impression of, or in any way be harmful to the business or business reputation of SDC or its affiliates or their respective employees, officers, directors, products, or services.”
Admittedly, I don’t have any proof, but I know enough about what is going on in internet marketing and knowing the character of this company, I have reason to doubt that all the positive reviews I’m seeing on highya.com are genuine. I don’t think this site has a robust filtering mechanism for detecting fake reviews.
The New York Times article reports that SmileDirectClub has had over 1670 Better Business Bureau complaints since its founding in 2014. By comparison, Invisalign has had only five complaints in its over 20-year history.
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