Disappointed with Phonak Marvel hearing aids from the VA

My father just got new hearing aids at the VA. Since the shutdown, it was a chore. We got Phonak Marvel. I asked for a plastic custom mold, no RIC, no whistles and bells, just pure vanilla. They were ordered and shipped to us and we were to get it going via video. Didn’t work out. Waited months more and had to go back. Got them, great, went home. After wearing them all afternoon, he took them out by the evening and put them on the next day but they no longer worked.

Mailed them back, the audi played with them for a while and got it going and shipped it back. Got them today, they don’t work. My father is really upset. She tried to convince me to give Phonak a try (I wear Widex). Never will after this. Anyone know why Widex cut the VA? Should my Dad just spring for Costco? It’s a PIA to drive so far for the disappointment they’ve been so far.

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Which Phonak aids did he get?
This all sounds odd, Phonak are very reliable aids in my opinion.

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Marvel. I personally had expected more as it was an established brand but this frankly has blown even me away. I never thought it could be this bad. What is telling is that when we got them home and tried them the next day, I went all out. I’ve worn hearing aids my whole life so this shouldn’t be that complicated. She worked on them and fiddled with them to get them going…so why? They’re brand new with the tags hanging off. Should we ask for something basic in another brand? This back and forth is killing us, we are no where near this VA so we’re tempted to go locally at this point, even if it costs.

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I would have the VA send them back to Phonak to be replaced first. Our vets should not have to go through this.

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This is exactly what I would have expected. If they stopped working and the audi had to spend time with it to get it going - get a new device. Don’t send a repaired, defective device with the tags still on it to someone not even local to the area, who depends on them. It’s like buying a flat screen HD Ultra TV that stops working after six hours, needs to be repaired, they tell you “it’s all set now, consult the discussion forum if you have issues,” and the damn thing stops working. Every time we go in, my mother is alone which we don’t like as she needs care. Something has to give.

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were they rechargeable, is so they have to charged every night.

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These are not rechargable or RICs. They are battery operated, pure plastic custom ear mold. This wasn’t asking a lot for something to work the first time.

did you try changing the batteries, and making sure the receivers were not blocked with ear wax.

Absolutely, first thing I did and each time we got them, I changed the batteries. I’m amazed by my first experience with this brand. My Dad had Widex Dream which were far better and didn’t have those same issues. I’m angry Veterans aren’t treated with better quality products.

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We do have some bad VA clinics for sure, but don’t label the VA system for a few bad apples. I have never had bad service from the VA in over 15 years with the VA. I have used clinics in both Texas and Arkansas, and only had minor issues with any of them, the worse being the large hospital in Dallas. I have been wearing VA hearing aids for over 15 years, with only minor issues with the aids. I am also, a retired IT professional, and Electronics Tech, I understand hardware and software, so I can tell you there will always be a few bad devices over the build cycle. But that doesn’t mean that they all are bad, as there will be a few bad staff, and clinics but that doesn’t mean the whole system is bad. Too many are quick to blame, an no patiences to work through the issues. And I can tell you this year with the virus has been a stressful and a huge problem for everyone. And with not standards set equally across the country on who can work and who can’t, who can be open and who can’t has made it even worse.

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In my opinion, there’s no excuse for the VA as an agency to offer hearing aids in ONE center or location. If dispensers can establish Mom and Pop shops in a strip mall, the VA can have a hearing aid center at all their locations to not burden Veterans that don’t live near the only one that sells them. I don’t know if or when we’ll get this resolved and I’m going to recommend that he just return them.

I live in Arkansas when I moved here I was going to have to travel 60 miles just to get to any VA clinic, I have been here for almost 3 years now and we have a nice new clinic here in the area. The VA isn’t anything like any of the private or public hearing aid places. They have a government budget to deal with. You are expecting something that will not ever happen. And also, I am someone that sees it as a blessing that I can get my aids from the VA system and not have to pay for them. Sure now that I have found that my hearing loss was due to my military service, I do feel that I deserve the hearing aids, but at first I didn’t. I am some one that I can’t afford the hearing aids and the equipment to go with them that I need for my loss, I am so grateful to have the VA to get my hearing aids from. I guess if you have the money to throw at getting the hearing aids yourself, then by all means go to the over prices Audiologist. I have learned to be patient and be grateful for the aids I get and the service I get from all of the staff and the VA. My new aids, and extras that I got for the VA this summer, would have cost my over $7500 if I had to pay for them. Being retired that just isn’t possible.

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We can’t afford it actually and sadly, now we may never get them. This is just a hardship. The travel, the aids not working, it’s frustrating and disappointing.

Not sure where you live, I live in a national forest, with the closest town of any size is about 30 minutes away. A large city, God forbid me having to go there is about 60 miles, or due to the roads, about 90 minutes away. I have lived in some big cities, and took 90 minutes to drive 20 miles. When I retired as they say I got out of Dodge. I really live in a retirement resort of sorts. But I can walk out on my front or back porch and not worry about seeing anyone, or another house. But there are doctors, and groceries, within 15 minutes drive, or about 3 miles of where I live, and I don’t have to hear the traffic, or see any of it. The forest does the greatest to keep us all private.

I’m very surprised to hear of your diffiuclty with Phonak and the VA.
Phonak is the top selling brand, and Marvel was introduced in 2018, so they have a great track record.
I trialed them back in March for 3 months, and would have kept them, but my previous aids (Oticon OPN) offered a better sound quality for me.
The VA offers up to 5 or 6 months to try a brand, and if not satisfied, choose another product.
I wasn’t aware that Widex is no longer offered, but if you don’t have faith in Phonak, by all means ask the VA Audi for one of the other choices.
They are there to help you.

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I have to wonder with the VA and also some HMO’s when ordering new aids - if you really get “New Aids”. In the private HA sector when your order new aids they usally arrive in a week, maybe sooner. But when you order aids through some HMO"s and the VA you have to wait several weeks, month, month plus. I seriously wonder if some HMO"s and the VA has some special rate cut deal on ordering hearing aids due to ordering aids that might have been refurbished. Gosh knows how many new aids are returned back to manufacturers because they didn’t satisfy the user, or possibly were defective. Anyway where do all those returned new aids go? Hey maybe to the VA and HMO"s who both offer hearing aids at discount prices.

You always wonder with a new aid if it doesn’t perform to the level of expectation if the aid itself is defective or lets just say “slightly off”. It doesn’t take much sometimes to throw an aid (for lack of a better word) off balance, which in turn impacts a sale or not. In any case when you had Marvels inspected the second time and sent to you again, they should of worked at some level. Most Audi’s will do a aid check prior (basic operation check) before calling someone into the office to trial.

Widex ior many years was a very solid hearing aid, that rarely needed adjustment or repair. I’m talking five, ten, fifteen years ago. Not sure if the quality is still there with Widex (due to company merger) but hope your father finds a set of aids he likes.

Normally the aids are ready within 10 working days, but due to scheduling of my Audi I have waited a month to get them. And yes the VA pays for less for the aids but they also distribute a huge number of aids. The clinic I go to get is small compared to a lot of clinics and they see as many as 90 patients a week in the audiology department. I haven’t been in my Audi’s office that he didn’t have at least 15 boxes of hearing aids in the cabinet.

I’m sorry your father is having so much trouble with his aids. I, like most everyone else thinks this is a shame and should never occur. Dealing with the VA is a lot like dealing with any other government agency. They can be very inflexible at times. I have Marvels obtained through the VA, and although they haven’t quit on me, I don’t wear them because they don’t help my hearing. When the pandemic started, I had appointments put off, then cancelled. My last contact with the VA, they told me they would call me when it was safe to come in. I tried to give them back, but since I had them for more than 6 months, they wouldn’t take them back. Only you know if it is worth your trouble to keep dealing with the VA. If you have just had it and want no further dealings, then I understand Costco is a good place to go. They have a model that is essentially the same as the Marvel, but if you have become discouraged by your father’s experience with them, they have other good aids as well. Best of luck.

Did the clinician tell you what they did to get them going again? It does sound like quite an unusual run of bad luck you’ve had.

Every pair of va hearing aids come with an option to return them and request another pair from a different manufacturer. I returned my first pair and have been very happy with my current Oticon S pair. Have never had a problem with my clinic but then again it’s contained within a regional va hospital. We are going through trying times and people need to be a little flexible until we get back to day to day operations. If he’s not strapped for cash by all means go to Costco and pay the $2500 they will ask for. Just don’t expect them to mail him his filters or batteries free of charge. Don’t expect them to provide a dehumidifier or a tv streamer free of charge like the va. I personally have had great service from them. It’s more likely the va cut Widex. New contracts are negotiated every six months and the va does not carry all brands. Their two major ones are Oticon and Phonak.

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