Father angry over $400 dentist cancellation charge

A Calgary man says he is upset about a hefty charge on his credit card for canceling a last-minute dental appointment.
Roland Ikporo was charged a $400 penalty for cancelling his son's appointment dental appointment one hour after he had booked it. ((CBC))
A Calgary man says he is upset about a hefty charge on his credit card for cancelling a last-minute dental appointment.

Roland Ikporo was billed $400 by Expressions Dental, a clinic in northwest Calgary, for cancelling an appointment for his son an hour after he had booked it.

Ikporo's son got a toothache on Feb. 27, and his father took him to Expressions Dental because their usual family dentist was closed.

A dentist at the clinic examined his son and took X-rays and charged Ikporo $150 on his Visa.

Ikporo was told he should book another appointment for his son right away so the dentist could extract four teeth at a cost of $1,700. The appointment was booked for two days later.

When he got home, Ikporo quickly realized his family dentist would be cheaper and called Expressions Dental to cancel, less than an hour after he made the appointment.

"What he told me was that if I cancel the appointment and if ... my son [doesn't go] that day, then the [dentist] was going to re-charge my visa card for the sum of $400," said Ikporo.

Ikporo cancelled anyway and instead took his son to their family dentist, who charged $800 to extract three teeth.

Dental association investigates

Several days later, Expressions sent Ikporo a copy of a bill showing an additional $400 in charges on his Visa.

He also received a copy of the consent form he signed, which outlines Expression's cancellation policy. The company requires 72-hours' notice, not counting Sundays and holidays, in order to cancel or reschedule.

The dentist Ikporo's son was scheduled to see charges $200 for every one hour of missed appointment time, according to the document.

Ikporo couldn't have made the 72-hour deadline even if he wanted to since his son's appointment was just 48 hours after he first arrived at the clinic.

"They shouldn't have accepted my appointment if they are working with 72 hours," he said. "I feel that I've been ripped off."

No one from Dental Expressions wanted to comment on the situation or talk about the clinic's cancellation policy. A spokesman did say he wants to talk to Ikporo about it.

Ikporo has complained to the Alberta Dental Association and College, which is now investigating.

Dentist Robert Huff, spokesman for the association, said each dental clinic is responsible for creating its own policy on cancellations.

"I certainly think most offices, dental offices, would give some sort of latitude on that type of situation," he said.

One dental office contacted by CBC News required 48 hours' cancellation notice, but only charges a penalty on the third missed appointment. Another one requires 24-hours' notice, and on weekends and evenings cancellation messages can be left on voicemail.