Audiologist to support hearing aid bought on line


#1

I am planning on buying a hearing aid on line from Precise Hearing, who have offered to pay $75 towards the first local audiologist visit. After that, I would have to return the hearing aid to them for adjustments and they would return it to me the same day. This all sounds great, except I cannot get an audiologist to agree to adjust an aid that they did not provide,at any price. The hearing aids I was recommended when I had my hearing test,cost more than twice the price of that same aid on line,if bought from the hearing centre where my test was done. I would be prepared to pay a reasonable amount for necessary visits,but unless I pay twice the price for the aid, I’m stuck with only long distance help. Any suggestions? Santa Monica or the West Valley-Woodland Hills, would be convenient for me.


#2

You kind of have to understand the business model of hearing aid clinics. They make a lot of profit when they sell you hearing aids (at least on paper). But that ‘profit’ goes back into advertising, and the infrastructure that ensures the office has a receptionist, the hearing professional can make a reasonable living, and they can pay all their bills so that the clinic can afford to stay open for years to come.

When someone bypasses this system and buys the hearing aid at a huge discount online, it’s a bit like buying a fine watch online. The item is kind of ‘gray’ market rather than something purchased in a way guaranteed and supported by the manufacturer.

So while you’ve just saved a bunch of money, if everyone went this route the hearing professional simply would not make enough money from ‘adjustment fees’ to keep his practice open and pay his staff while paying himself a reasonable salary.

Many hearing professionals see that this business model is a direct threat to their business and so refuse to participate at any price. Sadly the ones who are willing to compromise their values for a quick buck, are normally not that good anyway. After all a talented hearing professional is busy all the time working with their patients, and the business referred to them by happy patients. So they don’t need to supplement their income by supporting these fly by night online companies who are looking to make a few bucks dealing in the dubious world of ‘gray’ hearing aids that are not supported by the major manufacturers.

So that’s my take on why you are running into problems.

When I bought my Tag Heuer watch I did a similar thing. Rather then purchasing it from an authorized jewelry store I bought it online. Now while it was a fine watch, without the AD paperwork when I sold it to buy my Omega I had to sell it as an online watch, at a much lower value than if I had bought it through official channels.

So when I purchased my Omega, I did a bunch of research and found a dealer willing to offer a special price, but still with all the paperwork from an AD. So the watch I have now is ‘official’ and has a higher residual value as a result.

The moral of my unrelated watch story is that you are better off finding a hearing professional who is willing to work with you on the price, than trying to bypass the situation and buying it ‘gray’ off the Internet and hoping some hearing professional will be willing to service you. At least in my opinion.


#3

Also I would like to point out that most quality hearing aids today are calibrated to the shape of your ear. So the feedback management systems and other sound quality settings are based on being initially programmed and fitted in your ear. So while they can be sent in for remote programming, there are several features that will not be maximized unless an actual hearing professional sits down with you and makes the adjustments while you wear the aids. It’s not as simple as sending the aids in, and having them adjusted, and returned perfect. It would be liked having an itch on your back and asking someone to help you scratch it, but they cannot actually scratch until five minutes after you instruct them where to scratch!

Most quality aids should be initialized, programmed, fine tuned, adjusted, and otherwise changed while they are in your ear, not sitting on the desk of some random dude who has never met you and is paid $12 an hour to sit and make adjustments to hearing aids and shove them back in a FedEx envelope to you.

The reason you like to see your doctor face to face, rather than sending him letters that describe your symptoms, is the same reason why you should pay the premium to have an actual hearing professional diagnose the problem and correctly fit quality hearing aids that can address said problem.


#4

Hi Deafhead

Check out the link below, I know its 90 odd miles away but it might be an option? Might only be for Phonak, but they may do other aids? They will fit any bought elsewhere!

Cheers Kev:D

http://cgi.ebay.com/Phonak-Naida-V-Hearing-Aid-Fitting-Service-San-Diego-/250397878420?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a4ce06894


#5

My advice is to shop around at several clinics and tell them you are. A reputable clinic will give you options in a good , better, best pricing structure and will explain the pros and cons of different styles and different levels of technology. In my experience most people do not benefit or notice dramatic improvements from mid level technology to high end devices. Buying online for a hearing aid is a bad move. I would be very reluctant to offer any services to someone that bypassed our clinic to get a device on line and then came to me for adjustments, service, advice, etc.


#6

I did not notice what brand you were looking for, but Starkey aids bought over the Internet are not sold by authorized professionals. See http://www.starkey.com/corporate/internet-sales-policy

I would expect that to impact any warranty on the aids too. Precise Hearing is listed as unauthorized for Starkey.


#7

Thankyou everyone who responded to my enquiry re buying on-line hearing aids. The aid I was advised would be good for me is Siemens Pure 301. I kind of expected to be chided for wanting to save a buck, but it would be, in fact, over $1000 each ear. I’m still hesitating and wouldn’t have written the request otherwise. I understand that on-line would prove almost impossible for adjusting, but I think you are dead wrong in admonishing the on-line company, who were extremely helpful and patient with my enquiries and much pleasanter to deal with than the testing audiologist . There is a HUGE difference in price for the exact same aid and so,maybe, now, I must look for a pair of Pure 301s at a more reasonable price at a hearing centre. All the perks on-line were also much more generous and I don’t believe they are scoundrels. Alternatively, I’ll continue straining forward,saying"What did you say?’ Thanks anyway everybody.


#8

I don’t know if you are set on Siemens, but I was able to find a provider that saved me a lot of money on Starkey/Micro Tech/Audibel/NuEar by using ClearValue Hearing http://www.clearvaluehearing.com/

I just had to join the local Farm Bureau for $40 I get a 60 day trial, free checkups, & a couple of cases of batteries too.

You have to use one of their providers, though.


#9

Costco has siemens-like hearing aids. The Kirkland Signatures are actually Rexton Cobalt 16 which are actually very similar to the Siemens Pure 701. Rexton is a Siemens brand.

They have other brands also but the Kirklands are $2000 a pair and include rechargeable batteries and a charger. That is a very cheap price and you get a live person sitting there adjusting it for you.


#10

I felt like you, but finally gave in and bought a Siemens pure 300 from my audiologist. I had free batteries for two years, and a two year warranty. They did all of that for me. I didn’t have to worry with it. My walk in visits for adjustments, cleaning, etc were free, and I have been in there a lot. IN fact, I have had to send the Siemens Pure 300 off for repair twice during the first 18 months to be repaired under the warranty. A lot of my problems with it not working well were due to the fact that I sweat a lot and moisture got in it. If you have any kind of problems at all, there is no substitute for having a face to face visit with a competent professional to help you figure out the problem and work with the company to get it resolved. Unfortunately, my Siemens 300 quit working one time too many just as I was getting ready to buy a Siemens 301 for my right ear and a MiniTek device to pair it via bluetooth with my cell phone.

My audiologist let me try out the 300 and the 301 together for about a week. They worked great together, but when I went in to buy it, the 300 would not pair with the MiniTek and I asked about getting some kind of deal to replace the 300 with a 301 and was told that Siemens does not do that. I had two choices: Send the 300 in for repair or pay full price to upgrade my old 300 to the 301. I really have not been happy with all the problems with the 300, so I decided to “cut Siemens loose”, spend twice as much money for a better aid, and hope that Phonak is a company with better customer support than Siemens. For $5100 I am purchasing two Phonak Solana MicroP aids and an ICom from my audiologist. Im a little chapped with Siemens, but that’s ok. I understand the 301 is a totally different aid, but it sure looks the same. Siemens didn’t want to give any kind of discount to upgrade my old 300 which was a “hearing aid lemon”. This will be the third time sending the 300 back to the factory as I have six months remaining on the warranty. I will keep the repaired (but for how long?) 300 as a “back up” hearing aid. When the thing works, it’s great. But this time, I’m paying a lot more for what I hope are better aides (this time 2 aids like my audiologist reccommended) from a company I hope will have better customer and audiologist support. With Phonak I will have a three year warranty, and five years of free batteries. And this time I am going to purchase a $25 eargear waterproof sleeve in an effort to head off any moisture problems.

Get the best aid you can afford, but don’t skimp on service. It’s not as simple as putting in the battery and sticking the aid in the ear – you will most likely need more than one adjustment. And, thank God, audiologists are generally very patient people. Just be sure to rob a different bank each time (only kidding).


#11

Thankyou once more to everyone responding to my queries re on-line hearing aids. The Costco idea sounds worth an investigation and thanks to Prodigy place for his suggestion. As for Beldanjo. I’m confused by the whole business and felt O.K. I’ll follow the suggestion of my audiologist and go with the Pure 301, only to hear about problems. It’s all beginning to sound too much trouble and I’m ready to retreat into a quiet world. Someone please convince me!


#12

There is definitely a learning curve with starting up with hearing aids. To me, and I bet many would agree, the single most important part of it is finding a professional you trust and like. The professional is the one who will adjust the aids, probably many times, so it’s important to be able to talk to the person.

As far as the different models go, it is a little like buying a car and going to the dealer for advice. Of course their model is best but any of the top models will get you there, although some may be more suited to you than others.

Re-read what ZCT said about doing the tests and setup live, with the hearing aid in the ear.

It is certainly worth it, even life changing, to get hearing aids so don’t give up. My advice is to find a local person you like and trust and see what they recommend.


#13

Surely there can be a balance. If the client is paying for the service and the time, why refuse? You’d be shooting yourself in the foot possibly loosing a future HA buyer if you do a good job fitting them. Your comments reinforce the general view that you guys are plainly salesmen and not health professionals. I pay 75$ when I visit my doctors’s office(or more if it is a long appt.), they don’t have to sell me anything to make a living


#14

I ultimately decided to live with imperfect hearing. I lead a happy, healthy life and I can still hear birdsong and the wind in the trees and the wonder of the waves. Many of my favourite activities like swimming and walking in the rain would exclude hearing aids anyway and I’ll just have to go early to get a front seat at poetry readings and learn to lip read. Keep it simple. :):slight_smile:


#15

If you have significant hearing loss I can’t help but believe you would be better off with hearing aids than without. Yes, there are a lot of different opinions here about what to do, what to buy, and how to buy. Yes, it is a big purchase and there are risks no matter which way you go, but the answer is not to do nothing. The answer is, there are several good choices and any of them could have some problems but, most likely, any of the top choices will work out fine.

I get up every morning, get a shower, brush off any dried ear wax from my receivers, and pop them in. The rest of the day I don’t say “huh”, “what was that”, etc. I don’t have to avoid situations with difficult hearing environments, I don’t avoid groups, and I miss very little. Now that’s simple. It is MUCH less stressful to wear hearing aids than to need them and not have them.


#16

I read the Starkey internet sales policy. One internet retailer specifically mentioned is Hearing Planet. I am not sure exactly how Hearing Planet works, but I do know they require you to go to a local audiologist so I am not sure of why Starkey is objecting other than to try to enforce the local pricing policies. If you buy from Hearing Planet are you buying from them or from the local audiologist who then pays Hearing Planet a “finder”/referral fee?


#17

who were extremely helpful and patient with my enquiries and much pleasanter to deal with than the testing audiologist

but will they still blow in your ear after they have your money?


#18

There are Audiologists (like myself) who will charge a fee for service (office visit) for programming hearing aids not purchased from my office. However, before I will even touch the aids,I call the manufacturer to verify the validity of the aids. Many aids purchased online are counterfeits, and believe me, you CANNOT tell the difference between real and not.

So many Audiologists refuse to touch them based on this reason aside from the financial reason. And true, you may pay for an office visit at your physician’s office, but they are also billing your insurance for things. And many insurances do not cover hearing aids. Many physicians don’t fit durable medical equipment, they are selling you their services. If you don’t believe me, ask your physician what their annual marketing budget is - you won’t find one in any sizeable city in the US that will say they don’t have one.

Now if you’ll excuse me - I have a sales meeting to go to :wink:

dr.amy


#19

I did phone a few audiologists before i found those who do it. It’s not cheap, one programming cost me 140$, one of the audiologist asked for 230$ for 3 visits, finally I chose my old audiologist (I bought from him one hearing aid in 2001) because he was OK. the main problem with this is that you cannot come back 10 times to reprogram but the aids work fine and I did save many thousands of $$$ buying online.


#20

I read that in 2007 Oticon is against any sale of hearing aids not through an audiologist. That’s why you hardly find new oticons on Ebay. You can find many Siemens, Hansanton, and others.