Did AI Say, Smile and Pay Despite Bankruptcy

December 11, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Going out of business is a painful event for [a] the whiz kids who dreamed up an idea guaranteed to baffle grandma, [b] the friends, family, and venture capitalists who funded the sure-fire next Google, and [c] the “customers” or more accurately the “users” who gave the product or service a whirl and some cash.

Therefore, one who had taken an entry level philosophy class when a sophomore might have brushed against the thorny bush of ethics. Some get scratched, emulate the folks who wore chains and sharpened nails under their Grieve St Laurent robes, and read medieval wisdom literature for fun. Others just dump that baloney and focus on figuring out how to exit Dodge City without a posse riding hard after them.


The young woman learns that the creditors of an insolvent firm may “sell” her account to companies which operate on a “pay or else” policy. Imagine. You have lousy teeth and you could be put in jail. Look at the bright side. In some nation states, prison medical services include dental work. Anesthetic? Yeah. Maybe not so much. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. You had a bit of a hiccup this morning, but you spit out a tooth with an image on it. Close enough.

I read “Smile Direct Club shuts down after Filing for Bankruptcy – What It Means for Customers.” With AI customer service solutions available, one would think that a zoom zoom semi-high tech outfit would find a way to handle issues in an elegant way. Wait! Maybe the company did, and this article documents how smart software may influence certain business decisions.

The story is simple. Smile Direct could not make its mail order dental business payoff. The cited news story presents what might be a glimpse of the AI future. I quote:

Smile Direct Club has also revealed its "lifetime smile guarantee" it previously offered was no longer valid, while those with payment plans set up are expected to continue making payments. The company has not yet revealed how customers can get refunds.

I like the idea that a “lifetime” is vague; therefore, once the company dies, the user is dead too. I enjoyed immensely the alleged expectation that customers who are using the mail order dental service — even though it is defunct and not delivering its “product” — will have to keep making payments. I assume that the friendly folks at online payment services and our friends at the big credit card companies will just keep doing the automatic billing. (Those payment institutions have super duper customer service systems in my experience. Yours, of course, may differ from mine.

I am looking forward to straightening out this story. (You know. Dental braces. Straightening teeth via mail order. High tech. The next Google. Yada yada.)

Stephen E Arnold, December 11, 2023


Got something to say?

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta