Thinking of purchasing online hearing aids? You’re not alone. Relatively new American-based, online companies are now using a substantial portion of their budget to market their products to the Canadian consumer. These companies are banking on the fact that you will disregard articles like this one. But, before you reach for your credit card, make sure you are aware of the actual risks, not just the advertised benefits.
The internet is a great resource. Personally, I spend a good portion of my free time searching ebay, Kijiji, and discount websites for things I need for home or office, collectibles, and gifts. It’s a good feeling to save money, especially in these relatively uncertain economic times.
But there are some things that I won’t purchase over the internet. For example, I won’t buy another carpet on eBay. I made that mistake back in 2006. Yes. I admit it. I did buy an entire roll of carpet, online. I was building a new house and it was a bit of an impulse buy. When the carpet showed up, it was nothing like the online picture. It was a completely different colour and style. At the time, I tried unsuccessfully to get my money back (through PayPal and through legal avenues) but to no avail. I lost a couple thousand dollars in the process. Lesson learned.
Fast forward to 2015. As a marketing consultant for Hearing Aid Source, I was naturally curious about the truth behind the claims of online hearing aid/amplifier vendors. I decided to do some research and I purchased a hearing amplifier product I felt might be a real contender in the online “hearing solution” market. Unlike other offerings, that only had a volume control to turn up or down, this solution boasted an 12-band graphic equalizer.
I knew this level of adjustment was critical, as addressing hearing needs is about more than just making everything louder. Often certain specific frequencies need to be boosted more than others. I looked forward to seeing just how adjustable my online hearing solution would be. I paid my $200.00 and, a few days later, I had received my product by mail.
Surprise, surprise. As it turned out this product didn’t have a 12-band equalizer. In fact, it had no sound equalizing adjustment at all. What it did have was a single bass/treble dial adjustment that was not at all what was advertised. What a disappointment! I proactively registered a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau that stands as “unresolved” to this day. As far as I know, this company still wrongly advertises its products without any shame. “Buyer beware”, is all I can say. How many millions of dollars will this company make through false advertising?
Now, perhaps my experience is just an exception. Perhaps there are quality online hearing aids or hearing amplifiers out there, sold by honest, well-meaning companies. Some may even sport advanced digital features like “speech-in-noise” or “feedback cancellation”. Let’s assume for a moment that this is true. I still say buying hearing aids online is a bad idea.
Here’s why you should only purchase a hearing aid from a local, certified Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS) or Audiologist…
- To ensure your safety and satisfaction, you need comprehensive diagnostic audiometric testing to determine the extent and type of your hearing loss. The Internet cannot provide the extensive testing that’s critical for choosing the right hearing aid. Online hearing aid companies request that you send them a hearing test. How do they know the test is correct? What if it isn’t? Are they willing to take responsibility for the testing methods of another clinic? The specialist who tests your hearing is the person best qualified to select, program, and fit you with your hearing aids.
- Today’s technology is more advanced than ever. You need a professional to fit and program your hearing aids, based on the results of your tests, your lifestyle and personal hearing challenges. Inserting a one-size-fits-all hearing aid, that hasn’t been customized to your specific needs, can actually cause further damage to your hearing. Most important of all, the ear canal must be considered as an integral part of the hearing instrument. Without measuring the sound created by a hearing aid in your individual ear canal, and making appropriate significant adjustments, you have a recipe for disappointment.
- A certified specialist provides you with follow-up care for both your ears and your hearing aids. A specialist develops an ongoing relationship with you, can answer your questions, make adjustments, teach you how to clean and maintain your hearing aids properly, monitor your hearing, and reprogram your devices, when necessary.
- Hearing aid prices from reputable local clinics are actually more affordable than you may think. Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) gives any resident $500 per ear toward certified hearing aids. Don’t be afraid to tell your local hearing specialist what your budget is for hearing aids. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that they are able to approach or even beat online prices, and may even include a plan to cover regular service. For example, after ADP subsidies, Hearing Aid Source has quality hearing solutions starting at $450/aid. This price includes a service plan for the life of the hearing aids.
Many online hearing aids and amplifiers just don’t have the quality, flexibility, and/or features to address the vast majority of hearing loss needs. Online hearing aid retailers fail to provide key services you will need to ensure you’re diagnosed, tested, fitted, and serviced to the highest quality standards. All costs considered, online hearing aids offer far less value than hearing solutions offered by many local clinics.
I know it can be frustrating to try to get straight answers and transparent pricing from some traditional hearing clinics. I’ll admit, some changes are long overdue in the hearing industry (for our part, Hearing Aid Source has taken decisive steps to becoming transparent in our pricing and offering more “price points” to the consumer). However, purchasing hearing aids online as a comprehensive solution to addressing your hearing loss is a risky proposition for both the weight of your wallet and the health of your ears.
At Hearing Aid Source we sell more than hearing aids, we sell hearing solutions. Our certified specialists will work with you in a flexible, transparent manner, to find your “best value” hearing solution. We offer hearing aids from the industry’s leading manufacturers, so are always able to find the best hearing aids for you, your lifestyle and your budget. Read more about what makes us the best clinic in the GTA…
Experience our no-obligation trial. If you choose to buy, take advantage of our 90-day return policy. You won’t find this quality of service or expertise online.