The first six months of 2020 was a turbulent time for Smilelove and their customers. After briefly halting operations, the company reopened promising a new business model and fulfilled orders. However, Smilelove’s customer reviews reveal a disturbing saga of denied refunds, unshipped orders, and absent customer service.
Even though their website is still up and running, Smilelove is effectively out of business. Currently, they aren’t even taking new orders on their website. So, what happened? That’s what we’re here to discuss.
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Why Did Smilelove Cease Operations?
The COVID-19 outbreak hindered Smilelove’s ability to fulfill orders and provide customer support. But an April 2020 Instagram post (which they’ve since deleted) revealed that their financial concerns go a bit deeper. See for yourself:
Smilelove’s business model depended on a constantly growing customer base, and for a while, they were expanding rapidly. But when their growth slowed, Smilelove leadership found themselves in a dire situation, resulting in layoffs and service delays. And this is where, it appears, things began to fall apart.
Look over Smilelove’s customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau or Bestcompany.com and you’ll find a whole bunch of one-star reviews reporting a complete lack of communication. With a downsized staff, customer service faltered, leaving some customers feeling frustrated. These poor reviews made it increasingly difficult for Smilelove to grow their customer base. Then, COVID-19 hit.
Around the same time, Smilelove’s customer communication fell off the map, and customer satisfaction plunged even further. A quick scroll through the comments on their Instagram announcement will reveal a lot of customer frustration with their radio silence. Considering that these reviews have gone on for months, it seems like Smilelove (and their customer support) is no longer.
Is Smilelove Coming Back?
Anyone who’s been monitoring Smilelove’s website hoping for signs of life may have noticed a change in 2022. Smilelove’s blog posts detailing their decline disappeared and a new one took their place. In it, a company called Smile Away LLC explained that they purchased Smilelove’s website — along with all its content — and now they’re using it as a platform to sell their clear aligner treatment. Here’s what they said:
Go to the website’s “Buy” tab and you’ll see that clear aligners are available for purchase once again. Even though it appears that Smile Away LLC is selling their own aligners under the Smilelove name, they can’t complete any existing Smilelove orders. So if you’ve been waiting for your Smilelove aligners, this doesn’t mean you’ll finally get them.
The website might be functional, but we still recommend avoiding Smilelove at all costs. See our review of the top five at-home aligner companies for a few more reliable alternatives.
The Better Business Bureau’s Recommendation
Even after Smile Away LLC’s purchase, the Better Business Bureau still has a statement on their Smilelove page warning new customers against doing business with them. They’ve fielded over 800 complaints about Smilelove in the past year, and Smilelove’s official status stands at “BBB unable to locate business.”
President of BBB Serving Northern Nevada and Utah, Jane Rupp said: “Putting any money into Smilelove right now is a huge risk for consumers. Their service isn’t cheap, and the business has given no guarantees that you can expect to receive their products, or your money back.”
How Is Smilelove Dealing with Existing Customers?
Anyone who’s in the middle of their Smilelove aligner treatment might be worried and wondering whether they’re on their own now. It looks like many of the customers filing complaints are people who have completed an impression kit but have not yet begun their aligner treatment.
Some of them, however, pre-paid for their aligners but haven’t received a refund. If this is your situation, unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect a refund anytime soon. In a May 2020 email to their customers, Smilelove said that they’re not in a position to process refunds right now. Here’s a look at the email:
In a May 2020 blog post, Smilelove said that they were working on an agreement with one of their partners to fulfill all incoming orders. While they might have been able to fulfill some orders, customers are still reporting that they haven’t received their aligners OR a refund, leading us to believe that they didn’t follow through on their promise.
Customers who paid for treatment have never received it, and there’s no indication that they ever will. This blog post disappeared when Smile Away LLC took over, and they’re selling their own aligners on the website now, but we can’t in good conscience recommend them right now.
Smilelove Customer Reviews
Don’t just take our word for all of this. Here are some highlights from customer complaints to the Better Business Bureau (Smilelove has not responded or attempted to resolve any of them):
- “I ordered my impression kit and retainers for $1395 on Feb 29th and sent in my impressions […] On May 8th I requested a status update. They responded that because of COVID they could not offer refunds or continue with my order. I then requested refunds several more times and got no responses. I would like my order refunded because I never received my aligners.”
- “I paid SmileLove for orthodontic treatment in February, 2020 in full – $1,495. However, they never gave me my treatment and will not return my many emails or attempts to contact them via social media. I have asked for a full refund at this point, but have heard nothing from them since March, 2020. They still have a live website and appear to continue to be taking money from people. I believe they are fraudulent at this point.”
- “I’ve paid over $500 and still have not received my aligners months later. The last update I received was on May 11th saying they are not processing refunds and the production for aligners is on hold. It is now August and still no updates and I have reached out multiple times. Highly disappointed and disgusted with this company.
- “Purchased clear aligners and I never received anything. I paid 1500$ up front. Have contacted the company for months and months. Emails, phone calls, texts, and social media. I paid for them in October 2019, it is currently August 2020.”
These are just four out of hundreds of complaints, all telling essentially the same story: a customer purchased aligners, never received those aligners, was told that there would be no refunds, then never heard from Smilelove again.
Best Alternatives to Smilelove
Once again, we’d advise you to stay far away from Smilelove. But this doesn’t mean you have to abandon your dreams of a straighter smile. There are a few different Smilelove alternatives that are operating as usual, including a couple that we think are even better options! Here are a few other home aligner companies to consider:
#1 Byte: Best Overall Value
Byte is our #1-ranked home aligner company. Their prices aren’t quite as low as Smilelove’s, but we think their 4-5 month average treatment plan length, personalized customer support, and nighttime-only option make them worth the extra cost.
Check out our full Byte review for more information.
#2 Candid: Premium Treatment
Candid differs from other online clear aligners in that they use a hybrid at-home and in-person treatment model. After an initial in-person consultation and examination with a local dentist, you’ll check in virtually via their CandidMonitoring service every 14 days for the rest of your treatment. By keeping a local dentist involved for the entire treatment process, Candid offers a level of quality care that sets them apart from other services on this list.
If you can handle their higher prices, Candid is also a great choice. See more in our full Candid review.
#3 NewSmile: Superior Budget-Friendliness
If you liked Smilelove for their cost-effectiveness, take a look at NewSmile. Not only do they beat Smilelove’s prices, they do it without sacrificing product quality and customer service. They might still be young and small, but NewSmile has set themselves apart as an effective and highly affordable option.
Interested? Take a look at our full NewSmile review.
This is a difficult situation for everyone involved, and even though Smilelove has been a great option in the past, it’s no longer a safe or reliable option for new customers. If you’re first starting to consider home aligners, remember that there are a few other high-quality options out there! Our Top Five Home Aligners Guide can help you get started with another company that’s currently in service.