Buying online

first time buyer of hearing aids. I have been looking online. what a price difference from buying locally to online. i am interested in open fit aids. any suggestion online or locally

As a first time user of hearing aids I would highly recommend you go through an audiologist as getting used to hearing aids takes counselling and can require lots of adjustments and assistance.

I agree with the previous poster, you need to go to a hearing professional when you buy hearing aids. Especially the first time, because when they look at your hearing test results, they can recommend the best aids for your hearing.

I’ve been wearing aids for 6 years, and about 3 years ago bought aids from America Hears, which worked out well. My first aids were bought locally, and having experienced both, I must agree, as I’ve posted before, that as a first time wearer I would get them from a local audiologist.

After that, as an experienced wearer, you’ll better know what questions to ask or what to expect when buying online. Very fortunately for me, thank goodness, the cost of the first aids wasn’t an issue, as they were covered by my health insurance.

If cost is an issue, I’d consider getting the aids from Costco, if possible in your area. My grandmother, who agreed to get aids after seeing me wear mine, has Bernafon aids from Costco, and they’re working well for her.

I would agree 100 % to get them from a local audiologist the first time. I picked up my first pair yesterday so, I am by no means an expert, but I have already made a return trip for a fit problem and when I went back the audi said this will fix that and she gave me an anchor for the aids and I was out the door in less than 15 minutes with a fix. I can’t imagine trying to resolve that issue online because I had no idea what to expect as far as fit and sound. I know I paid for more that just the aids; I paid for knowledge, experience and expertise and hands on care.

I bought through Ahearingaid.com and they include the services of a local audiologist/HIS in the prices of the aids so they’re not as cheap as aids you buy without those services. I did think that having local service was important while at the same time I wanted to keep costs down since I knew I wanted a high-end model aid.

The problem that I had was that, although the HIS I was referred to was listed as dispensing Phonak aids, he was mostly experienced with low-mid end Siemens models instead of high end Phonaks like Savia Art. I felt that I knew more about the aid than he did (and I only studied them online). He seems to be a sincere person and acts as though he wants to help me, but mostly his usual clients are interested in more economy models and that’s not his fault. He runs a “no frills” office and that means he didn’t have REM, a sound proof booth or color samples on hand of the open fit model hearing aid I wanted.

Previously to this, I did a demo of an Oticon Delta 8000 at audiologist’s office about 8 months earlier (through an ad in the paper, not Ahearingaid.com) just to see what hearing aids were like, and I felt as though the prices that were quoted there were stemming from having to support the really fancy office he was in. He seemed more like a salesman (to me at least) than someone who was really trying to help me. That’s not to say that everyone in a fancy office is going to be bad and everone in a plain office is going to be good.

It took almost 4 months to get my aids right (and maybe that would be true with any provider though it seemed long to me). The HIS suggested an in-the-ear model on the first go round which was a total disaster. With the ski-slope frequency loss I have, I was surprised he did that. I have an open fit model now which can be switched to an ear hook later if necessary. The fit seems pretty good at this point, but I’ll never be sure that they couldn’t be better if I had a real expert in that model adjusting them. These are my first aids ever so I really have no basis for comparison.

Ahearingaid.com has a form you fill out afterwards asking how you liked the service. They say that they do this so that they can screen their service providers for quality. The only thing is that I didn’t feel that I could voice any concerns because I didn’t know if that would get back to the HIS and then it would be awkward for me to go back for adjustments (now that I was committed to using him) if he thought that I was badmouthing him. To me, that would make me wonder about how true any of the quality feedback Ahearingaid.com gets is and, as a consequence, how well they can screen their providers. It is probably just the luck of the draw who you get.

The other drawback to Ahearingaid.com was that you could only try out two different models and they had a $75 per ear restocking fee if you returned aids without purchasing any (this HIS wasn’t going to charge any fee for returns). Any earmolds cost extra $ and were not refundable.

On the positive side, Ahearingaid.com does give you a carton of free batteries for each aid, a two-year replacement warranty if the aids are lost (with a $300 processing fee which is up from $250 when I first read about it), a 45-day trial period, a two to three year repair warranty depending on model, three years of free adjustments, lifetime cleanings, and yearly free hearing tests. Check their current prices and policies, as several of their prices changed during the time I was dealing with them.

One last point, I did find it difficult sometimes to know who to deal with on different issues since I was involved with both Ahearingaid.com and the local HIS. That was my experience for what it is worth. Good luck.

Cammycat

I checked out both Hearing Planet and AHearingAid.com, now HP would get me the Oticon Epoqs for around $6,500, and AHA.com was about Six Hundred less than that if I remember correctly. In the end I went with neither and ordered them through my Audiologist. While she couldn’t come close to matching AHA.com, she could match HP’s price and that included the Dry and Store Cleaning Kit that I wanted.

The two biggest reasons I turned down both online places were location of their local hearing outlets and my comfort level with the hearing professionals themselves. While both of them were very nice, I just didn’t feel as comfortable with them as I did with my Audiologist and her staff. Also the Facility where they are located is so easy and quick to get to for me as well. Since there will be several visits initially when I get the Epoqs, I didn’t want to have to travel clean across town to deal with people as wasn’t nearly as comfortable with. For me that was the deal breaker, even though I will be paying $600 more than I would have at AHA.com, it will be worth it in the long run for me.

Just a small point Cammycat. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Hearing aid batteries (really good ones) have a cost price of about 25c. So multiply that by how many you got for ‘free’ and that price is built in to price you paid. A company cannot give an item away without paying for it.

The warranty is another issue. The factory will charge a certain price for a warranty, and a seller can roll that in to the price and advertise that the warranty is ‘included.’ Big deal! You’re still paying for it! The only time you are not is if the seller decides to take a gamble and offer the warranty themselves. That way if it needs a repair, they have to pay for it, and they lose out. They gamble that they will get back fewer aids than the cost of buying these people an extended warranty from the factory. But on the flip side your warranty is only good through the seller if this is how they do it. You cannot just walk into a store that dispenses your brand of aid and get an in warranty repair for free, because technically your warranty expired after a year.

A 45 day trial is basically 15 days longer than the state regulation of 30 days. Many offices offer that these days.

And the free yearly hearing tests are really just a chance to ask for referrals or tell you it’s time to buy new aids.

Sorry to be so cynical :rolleyes:

ZCT

I was just stating the pros and cons of my experience in answer to the request for information. I wasn’t trying to sell anything. As you see from the first portion of my message, I was disappointed with a good portion of the experience. But who knows, I might have had problems as well, even if I hadn’t used the Internet. Only with more experiences described (whatever they might be) will anybody really get a full picture of what’s available out there.

Unfortunately, this is my first time getting hearing aids and I hadn’t found this forum in time to change what was already started. That being said, no matter if I was charged for all the items I mentioned in the price I paid, it was still a good price and it did include access to a local HIS (which I did feel was important). As a side note, the HIS included free batteries for a year also, so they guys on the Internet aren’t the only ones following these practices.

I wish there were a better way for newbies to get informed about purchasing hearing aids. This forum is very valuable in that regard, but only if you know that it exists. It is staggering to realize, with myself as a prime example, just what an infinitesimal amount of knowledge the “man on the street” has about hearing loss and what to do about it. I’m hoping in the future that will change as the Boomers ought to be flooding the market in coming years looking for information.

Cammycat

As a Boomer, and someone who’s successfully purchased aids “online” even before “open fit” was well defined, I’m looking forward to the advances in technology and the changes in distribution etc. etc. that have seemed to occur in other various “markets” as our needs, and how we spend our dollars, has changed over time. :stuck_out_tongue:

ZCT even realizes that the Internet is having an impact on the business, since he has his own website, with a link in every one of his posts, and asked us to comment on it in a thread he started on this board.

I just happen to do web design as a hobby. I think that any business, no matter what it sells, would be foolish not to have a web site in this day and age.

But what surprises me more than anything is this. I worked for a company that considered themselves very high end. Indeed they’ve been selling Audibel Virtue 16s at just under $9,000 a set (I didn’t, but I’ve seen it done). Which clearly is daylight robbery. But what amazes me is how few patients do no research at all. I would wager that 80% of patients that spend in excess of $5,000 tell me they did not look online, they did not do any research. All they did was see an ad in the newspaper and pick up the phone.

Heck, I research anything I buy over $50! It never ceases to amaze me how little people get themselves informed before buying aids.

I consider one of the reasons for my success to be the fact that I am very thorough with my patients and spend as much as two hours with them for the initial visit. They do not have a single question unanswered before they leave.

And I didn’t mean my post as an attack on your opinion in any way. It just irks me a little when I see companies whether they be online or B&M that say stuff like ‘free batteries’ and the like, when it is clearly untrue.

What it really boils down to is you can run a web site from your living room. As such you can buy aids at cost, add a mark up to cover some basic costs, and ship them out.

It is my opinion that this is not a sensible way to buy aids unless you REALLY know what you are doing. There are a lot of pitfalls, one of which is the lack of personal care, and the fact that many modern aids require in ear calibration each time they are shipped from the factory.

Unless they’ve changed the law in the UK since I was working there, it used to be illegal for a company to supply hearing aids unless a person working for that company had personally tested the hearing of the recipient and fitted them personally. That person had to be licensed at the British equivalent of an HIS or Audiologist.

I wonder if anyone here knows if that law has changed since the Internet came along.

“By law all hearing aid dispensers must be qualified and registered with the Hearing Aid Council
The HAC regulates private dispensers’ training and conduct and handles complaints”

You can find more info from http://www.rnid.org.uk/

Also bear in mind that in the UK most people get their hearing aids free on the NHS.

I would not buy online unless it was just for a replacement that works successfuly. I did in dept research on the Eqop before I purchased them. After calling about 25 local fitters and there were a few that came with in 10% of the online pricing without me even asking for a good price. Some would not even quote a price. But regardless of price the first criteria would be the ability to have a REM type of fitting performed.

I consider one of the reasons for my success to be the fact that I am very thorough with my patients and spend as much as two hours with them for the initial visit. They do not have a single question unanswered before they leave.

Believe me ZCT, I truly wish I could have found an office like yours. I really did feel lost trying to figure out what to do. I just didn’t know how to find out info about local offices. I didn’t feel comfortable visiting or calling them just for information without planning to buy from them. When I saw the site online I figured that they had local providers that had already been checked out. I’m sorry now that I didn’t turn around when I first entered the office they referred me to, but I was too shy to do so. Live and learn, huh? You’re not moving to PA any time soon are you?:wink:

Cammycat

over the years, i have seen that most pediatrics audi are quite good if not excelent… and most if not all perform REM or RECD thus, try to find one locally…

Looks like the law is still the same then.

As for the NHS some statistics I’ve read found that the wait time can be 3-5 years to get ‘free’ hearing aids. Even then, you get what you’re given. So the private sector is alive and well in the UK. Hidden Hearing, one of the larger companies claims to conduct over 100,000 tests a year.

it is the same in denmark, people dont want to wait as a result, people
pay top euros for the right to have the hearing aid now… 2 yrs is to long of a time… this is how you find dispensing offices even when High end HI are giving it for free