Dentist charging $4,000 for cancelled appointment

Dear Consumer Ed:

Can a dentist retain a $4,000 deposit for services not rendered after an appointment was cancelled? I was not given prior indication that this deposit was non-refundable as they now claim.  

Consumer Ed says:

The answer to your question may depend on your agreement for services. If you agreed to this in writing before you paid the deposit, you may not have any recourse. You should consult with an attorney further about your rights and remedies under your agreement for services.

If you do not have an agreement for services, you should ask the dentist for the reason that your deposit is now nonrefundable. It is common for medical practices to charge fees when an appointment is missed. These fees help protect medical practices from the financial loss suffered by patients missing appointments. There are no laws in Georgia that regulate the amount of these fees, but the American Medical Association has guidelines that may be applicable to the dentist. The AMA recommends that physicians should 1) clearly notify patients in advance of fees charged by the practice (if any) for nonclinical or administrative services, and 2) base fees (if any) on reasonable costs to the practice for missed appointments or appointments not cancelled in advance in keeping with the published policy of the practice. Retaining your deposit of $4,000.00 could be considered excessive in light of the reasons generally for charging a fee for a missed appointment. You should consult with an attorney to further understand any rights or remedies you may have to dispute this situation.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

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