In today’s world, many consumers do their research online and also choose to sometimes make their purchase online. For many items, buying items over the internet is generally safe and while there is some risk, online reviews and consumer forums generally make it easy to reduce that risk. In the hearing aid industry though, many new online shops have popped up recently and claim to offer the same products for less. Their claims may be attractive, but many consumers have found out that the value received was not what they expected. Below I will detail some of the issues we are seeing with online hearing aid purchases.
Warranties may not be valid
Hearing aid manufacturers often offer repair warranties when their products are sold. These warranties are typically from one to three years and are important, since hearing aids can break down and the repair costs are significant. The one caveat to these repair warranties is that they are only valid when sold through authorized retailers. Since many of these online outfits source their hearing aids through intermediaries (not directly from the factory), they are often not authorized distributors and the warranties end up being worthless. Recently, we have heard of consumers that purchased new hearing aids online, only to find out that the “warranty” was only valid in *another* country (not the U.S.).
These shops can close as fast as they opened
Many online entrepreneurs are attracted to the hearing aid industry because the products are fairly expensive and many assume the margins are high (which they are not when service costs are accounted for). This leads a lot of people to get into the industry, assuming that they will make big money from selling products for slightly less than local practices. Unfortunately, many of these online hearing aid companies have sold hundred or thousands of hearing aids, only to close shortly after and leave their customers scrambling to find someone to help them with their hearing aids. There are many that have closed down in the last 24 months, but BuyHear was one of the most popular websites to close. You can read about some BuyHear experiences here after it closed without warning.
Don’t know who you will be working with
While some of these operations ship the hearing aids directly to you, many of these websites that sell hearing devices say they contract with someone locally that will service the hearing aids. Unfortunately, they often refuse to tell you who you will be working with before you purchase. Does this person have good reviews from other patients? Are they a hearing aid dispenser (dealer) or are they a licensed Doctor of Audiology like Kevin Ivory? Do they specialize in the product you are getting or do they most often work with another brand and are inexperienced with the hearing aid you’ll be getting? These are all important questions to ask.
To emphasize how important the provider is to the outcome, here is a video from Dr. Cliff on why the hearing care provider is most important.
Many hearing aids sold online come with little or no service
The service component is important for hearing aid fittings. While things might be great at first, adjustments may need to be made to keep that same level of hearing. Sweat, moisture and earwax can wreak havoc on sensitive electronics like hearing aids. In addition, a patient’s hearing can change throughout their life, which means their hearing devices will need to be reprogrammed regularly. Without a local hearing care provider you can trust, the purchase might seem less like a good deal over time.
La Cañada Hearing Aids & Audiology
With La Cañada Hearing Aids & Audiology, you know what you’ll get when you become our patient.
Here is what we offer:
- a local, licensed Doctor of Audiology in Kevin Ivory
- valid warranties from an authorized distributor
- a practice with a strong track record and patient reviews
- A Dr. Cliff-approved practice that follows best practices, including real ear measurement (REM).
- ListeningBrain treatment, which looks at your hearing holistically to help you hear and understand better