While many consider it cruel to trick someone in need, a person with hearing loss might seem like a vulnerable target. There are many misconceptions about hearing aids and the people that work with them, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be wary while buying new hearing aids. If you're concerned about the buying process, here are three scams you should look out for.
Go Long or Go Home
If you are buying hearing aids for the first time or want to try a new model, you might be offered a trial period. These trials are extremely important and will give you personal insight on whether or not it's the right fit for you. However, there are some things to look out for when discussing your trial. Never settle for a short trial period, regardless of what the seller says to you. Trials of a few hours, days, or a week are not worth your time.
There might be situations that you don't get to encounter in that short time frame, and the seller might be trying to push an old or outdated model onto you. Your trial s should always be anywhere from 30-90 days long. A reputable dealer will accept these terms. During your trial period, you should try to adjust to your new hearing aids and experience a wide range of sounds. Toggling the functions and testing features is also recommended.
The point of hearing aid trials is to give you a solid idea of what the hearing aid will be like in everyday situations. Short trials don't give you enough time to get the full experience, which might lead you to buy a subpar hearing aid. By the end of your trial, you should be able to make a definitive decision on whether or not to buy it. A few days is not nearly enough time to gather information.
Don't Fall for Hardball Sales Tactics
If you've ever walked into a supermarket, you've probably seen signs pitching deals like "75% off", or "buy one get one free". While these do seem like bargains when buying drinks or snacks, they're far from trustworthy when dealing with specialized technology like hearing aids. No hearing aid dealer is going to sell a pair of hearing aids for a crazy-low price, and if they are, there's probably a catch.
The catch might be that it does not come with fitting, is an old/faulty model, or you have to buy it today. Rushing customers to buy a necessary product like hearing aids is always a bad sign. Any respectable hearing care professional (HCP) will work with you to make sure that you're making a choice you will be happy with, and that process often takes time.
The buying process should involve multiple steps, including a discussion of your needs, multiple fittings, and a trial period. If all of those factors aren't present, there's definitely something amiss. Don't fall for outrageous sales pitches; your HCP should offer you nothing but honesty and straightforward answers.
Avoid Mail-Order Hearing Aids
The phrase "one size fits all" never applies to hearing aids. Everyone's ears are different and treating hearing aids like wristwatches will only lead to poor fitting. Don't let online advertisements mislead you; it is never a good idea to buy hearing aids online. While you might be getting a "better deal" financially, you're not getting the insight, advice, and professional sizing that you would get from an HCP.
An HCP will make sure your hearing aids are fitted perfectly to your ear, even if it takes a few visits. They can also provide tech adjustments and instructions, so you can make the most of your new hearing aids. When you buy online, you're just getting a pair of hearing aids. Even if you feel confident about fitting yourself, you might end up regretting your decision in the long run. If you'd like more information about hearing aid fitting and how HCPs play a role, check out the in-depth article by Signia.
Hearing aids are delicate pieces of technology. You shouldn't be afraid of hearing aid providers; they're trained and certified to help you get the fit you need. They aren't middlemen that you can cut out of the process entirely -- they're your last line of defense against scammers. Find an HCP you trust and talk to them if you have doubts.
How an HCP Helps You
It's a hearing care professional's job to walk you through the buying process, along with the fitting and adjustment period. You might have many visits with them over the course of your hearing aid journey. Before you buy, your HCP will discuss your needs and preferences for your hearing aids, the results of your professional hearing test, and pricing. Your HCP should discuss multiple factors and help come up with a list of viable options.
A good HCP won't try to upsell you on features you don't need. While some hearing aids offer advanced tech like Bluetooth streaming, unique shapes, and other features, you might not need these if your lifestyle or preferences don't call for them.
If you're still wondering how to choose a hearing aid, you can find more information in this article about the buying & fitting process.
Questions You Should Ask Your HCP
Regardless of whether you're a hearing aid wearer or not, you should know what to ask an HCP during the buying process. If you have a family member or friend that asks you to come along, you can help supply them with questions they might have overlooked. Here are some things you should touch on during your consultation or fitting.
- "What kind of hearing aids am I compatible with?"
- "What hearing aids are in my price range?"
- "What are my payment options?"
- "How do I determine my needs?"
- "What features would I benefit from?"
While other questions might come up during your meeting, these are a few that can help you get started. If you know what to ask, it can give you more confidence and self-assurance to move forward with the process. Regardless of how much you know, your HCP should do their best to fill you in and help you make a decision that you will be happy with.
If you don't already have an HCP, or want to switch providers, finding reliable hearing care professionals near you is the top priority. Luckily, you don't have to sift through online profiles and search engines to find them. The Signia Store Locator does the hard work for you and provides you with GPS directions and contact information.
As long as you stay vigilant and accept help from professionals, buying hearing aids should be an experience that has you looking forward to the future.