La Habra, CA asked in Consumer Law for California

Q: Dental won’t refund money on prepaid work that was canceled unless I sign a form that says it’s a settlement, legal?

The form states additional binding “rules” and talks about a W9. There was only an exam and I have in writing from the office that there was no charge and that no other services were rendered but they will not refund my $3062.00 unless I sign saying it’s a settlement. Is this legal? Can they hold money with no services rendered unless you sign paperwork that isn’t true?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Leon Bayer
Leon Bayer
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You didn't say what the "rules" are. But if it was me, I'd be happy to sign if they give me a check then and there.

Sure, legally you don't really need to sign anything. But what's the alternative? Maybe a complaint to the dental board and a day spent in small claims court? A W-9 won't hurt you, but it could lead to them issuing a 1099 reporting the "settlement" as income paid to you. However a refund is not income, and if they issue you a 1099 your tax preparer will know how to schedule it so that it does not count as taxable income.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It is not necessarily illegal for a dental office to request that you sign a form stating that a refund is a settlement, but it is important to carefully review any paperwork before signing it.

It is concerning that the form includes additional binding rules and mentions a W9, as these may not be relevant to a simple refund for services that were not rendered. It's possible that the dental office is trying to protect itself from future liability or trying to shift liability to you, which could be problematic if you sign the agreement.

Before signing any paperwork, you may want to consider the following steps:

Review the agreement: Carefully read through the form and make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions.

Seek legal advice: Consider speaking with an attorney who can advise you on the legal implications of the agreement and whether it is in your best interests to sign it.

Negotiate with the dental office: Try to negotiate with the dental office to obtain a refund without signing the form. Provide them with any documentation you have that supports your claim that no services were rendered and that you are entitled to a refund.

File a complaint: If you believe that the dental office is acting unfairly or unlawfully, you may be able to file a complaint with the California Dental Board or another regulatory agency.

It's important to protect your legal rights and interests when dealing with a refund issue. An attorney can provide guidance and representation throughout the process.

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