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 (as recent as Spring 2021) 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.
Beginning in March, 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.
The Better Business Bureau’s Recommendation
After months of bad reviews, the Better Business Bureau issued an official statement warning new customers against doing business with Smilelove. 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.”
Steer clear. Smilelove is effectively out of business, and if you purchase their products, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive them, or get a refund. Fortunately, they’re not the only home aligner company on the market. If you like what Smilelove treatment offered, you’ll find comparable alternatives in our guide to the 3 best Smilelove alternatives.
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.
While Smilelove’s website is still active, their full aligner treatment isn’t even listed in their shop, and many of the links on their website are dead. It appears that you can still purchase retainers, whitening, and teeth spray from their website, but we’d advise against purchasing anything from them at this point, given their track record of failing to fulfill orders.
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.
Is Smilelove Gone For Good?
It appears so. Last year, they briefly re-emerged with a blog post detailing their plan for a relaunch. However, they’ve since deleted that post, indicating that the plan likely didn’t work out. That, combined with the fact that they haven’t responded to customer complaints in months, says to us that they won’t be coming back.
Even if Smilelove re-emerges again with another relaunch plan, we’d still advise customers to avoid their service and go with another home aligner company instead.
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 and the fastest option on the market. Their prices aren’t quite as low as Smilelove’s, but we think their lightning-fast treatment times (3-4 months on average), 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 Service
Perhaps no other home aligner company takes quality as seriously as Candid. They guarantee orthodontist oversight, and have a manufacturing partnership with ClearCorrect. Plus, they’re the only company to offer full Remote Monitoring, which provides regular orthodontist check-ins to keep your treatment on track.
If you can handle their higher prices, Candid is also a great choice. See more in our full Candid review.
#3 AlignerCo: Lowest Prices
If you were drawn to Smilelove for their cost-effectiveness, take a look at AlignerCo. They’re the only company that beats Smilelove’s sale prices, and they do so without sacrificing product quality and customer service. They might still be young and small, but AlignerCo has set themselves apart as an effective and highly affordable option.
Interested? Take a look at our full AlignerCo 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 5 Home Aligners Guide can help you get started with another company that’s currently in service.