She complained about having ill-fitting dentures. Then she got a surprise bill.

Posted at 6:18 PM, Apr 04, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- In September of 2022, CBS 6 continued to get complaints about various offices in Virginia. 80-year-old Calessia Lemon was among those who reached out after dealing with what she said are horrible and painful dentures.
"It's difficult to do anything, they'll come out while I’m chewing," Lemon said.

For the past two years, Lemon said she's barely left her King William home, ashamed and embarrassed because of the many issues she said her new dentures have caused.

"Many holidays or dinners and invitations to go to different meals, because some of the ladies from the church want to get together and we go out to eat I didn’t want to because I couldn’t chew my food that well," Lemon said.

She said struggling to chew, being scared to speak and the lingering pain in her gums are the result of dentures she received after having some of her teeth pulled.

"I went to Aspen Dental for some dental work done. They did the six extractions at the same time," Lemon said.

It began in March of 2021 when Lemon went to the Aspen Dental in Mechanicsville. She describes the set of dentures she purchased as uneven and barely usable.

"The lower set of dentures they gave me, all the teeth were curved inside they didn't meet. One side was up above the other, it’s not an equal bite," Lemon said.

When she went back to have them repaired, they still weren't comfortable.

"They weren’t curved in like the other, I don’t know what they did but they still don't fit," said Lemon.

Lemon said after months of back and forth and dentures she still couldn't use, she asked for a refund.

"She set a date for me to come in on Thursday to get my money back," Lemon said.

Though when she arrived to get her full refund, she was told she wouldn't.

"They told me that I had them longer than 30 days, that the doctor is not going to sign off on giving my money back," Lemon said.

Frustrated with their service, Lemon wrote a letter to the Better Business Bureau. In response, says she was met with an unexpected bill in the mail

"They wrote me a letter on Friday, told me I owe them $612 and to bring the dentures back in and they would write the $612 off," said Lemon.

Confused about how she now owed them money when her previous balance was zero, Lemon reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers hoping to get some help.

"So I don't have the money and right now I don't have satisfactory dentures," Lemon said.

When researching the company, CBS 6 found that Lemon’s story was similar to many of those posted in the Facebook group ‘stop Aspen Dental’, a group with over 15,000 thousand members nationwide.

"I went to them for 14 months, sometimes there were three trips in a week, the price of gas was at its highest, I really feel as if they thought Aspen could take advantage of an elderly black lady," she said.

Lemon said she wishes she had asked more questions early on, something that consumer lawyer John Gayle says is good advice for everyone.

"Do your research, whether it's a doctor or a dentist or a lawyer, find out about them before you go in. Just because someone says this is a good place, go to the Better Business Bureau and see what sort of rating they have," Gayle said.

Gayle also encourages when making any type of big purchase to keep a record of everything.

"You should write down what happened dates and times. The times you went back to try to rectify the situation, the times you went back and was helped, write down whatever they said, who you talk to," Gayle said,

Lemon said this experience continues to cause her pain and hopes to get back to doing the things she loves soon.

"I’m still upset about it and I really need dentures. I would like to have some dentures for Thanksgiving this year because last year I didn't," she said.

After reaching out to the company several times, Lemon and Aspen Dental came to a refund agreement. Unfortunately, Lemon still does not have a set of dentures she feels comfortable with.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.