Hearing Aid Trial Period Question

I’m just starting to shop for hearing aids. Should I feel comfortable taking advantage of trial periods? Do the dealers make it difficult to return hearing aids, or do they try to pressure you into anothe model, etc…? Should the trial period be free?
I wouldn’t do it unless I was serious about that particular HA, but I’m just trying to get an idea of what I’m getting into before I do it.

250 …20…10
500 …25/20… 15
1000… 40/35…20
2000… 40/35…5
4000… 65/65…55
6000… 75…75
8000… 65…60

Costco has a 90 day trial period and a no questions asked return policy, there is no charge for trialing.

You don’t say where you are … which could be anywhere in the world on this forum. Here is California, USA. there is a state law that you will have a 30 day trial period with a full refund if not satisfied. This could be added on to by the audi, mine giving me a full 60 days with full refund if desired.

If you are in the USA, you can look here at the list of states. This is the Hearing Loss Association of America web site and the Consumer Protection Laws pdf listing.

Should you feel guilty if not happy? Definitely NOT. Should you feel pressured to buy anything if you do trial aids? Definitely NOT. How else would you find out if you feel comfortable with the dispenser/audi? That is very important, and there is no other way to do so than to trial aids. If the dispenser/audiologist is accomplished, and can instill faith in you, they won’t need to push a sale. If you don’t feel comfortable, move on to another. And don’t feel bad or embarrassed going back to one you moved on from if they prove to be the best you found.

Be sure you understand the terms of the trial and GET IT IN WRITING!!!

Many people use the term “Free” when referring to trial periods to mean there is no re-stocking fee if you decide to return the aids. However, that can vary state to state and dispenser to dispenser.

Many dispensers will have you pay the full cost before the start of a trial (remember, you are walking out the door w/ several thousand $$ of equipment) and if you decide to return the aids, they may return only a portion of the monies you paid up front. (Usually the cost of the aids less service fees) The dispenser may have a policy where the fitting fee is not refunded (to cover his/her office time) Most will not refund the cost of custom molds.

Some of that non-refunded fee is controlled by law in some states as is the length of the trial. NY state requires a 45 day return policy.

Be sure to discuss openly what is refundable and what is not & get it in writing before you trial anything.

At my practice we have a 30 day required by the state.

If you were to come into my office and wanted to try the aids for the trial, I would prefer that you pay up front when the aids are in your ears. I have a $150 non refundable fee that I would waive if you felt more at ease about the situation. If we needed to make custom ear molds (for a bte), I would just ask that you paid for those plus shipping if you did return the aids. That’s only because I don’t get a return for credit on them. The time we would spend trying to help you would just be an opportunity to help and I wouldn’t charge for that, so you would get everything back.

The bottom line is that you should feel comfortable wherever you go. If you return them, the dispenser should not give you grief for it.

I’ve actually had people return their aids and then come back and buy them.

Great Topic!!!
I have a 60 day trial period at my office with a $250.00 retaining fee that is non-refundable. If earmolds are involved, the patient is responsible for the cost. Let’s face it… Hearing aids are not going to cure hearing loss. It takes time for the brain to adjust to hearing aids. To be frank, sometimes it takes longer than 60 days. However, the terms must be fair for everyone involved. A full money back guarantee after 90 days (costco) is a fishy deal. Would anyone agree to incur cost (shipping, time, etc.), work hard to help an individual, and conduct hearing test, programmings, adjustments. etc. and not get paid? Would you give your employer 90 days of work for free? Of course not. Why should we? Hearing aids require a lot of time and effort from everyone involved even the dispenser’s. If you get a full money back guarantee after 90 days, my guess is that the dispenser is really not planning to put a lot of time and effort into you or their patients (i.e: Costco and Walmart). You would be just as well off ordering a crystal ear from the internet or the bionic ear for less than what you would pay at Costco. Costco is banking on the fact that you are going to be so happy with the cost that service is never going to be an issue (if you could even receive timly service). I had rather give someone an honest days pay for an honest days work knowing that they are going to take care of my problem to the best of thier ability. A $250.00 retaining fee doesn’t even come close to what it cost a practice to acquire and retain one patient. To aquire one patient can cost a practice in excess of $400.00. Add that to the cost of working with them for 60 days and you are looking at a 4 digit figure. A fair and reasonable retaining fee should be the standard protocol. Unfortunately, the 90 day risk free stuff is another gimick and marketing trick that gets people’s attention. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There are surely two sides to this? On the one hand, any responsible audiologist should be interested in your ending up with the best possible solution to your hearing problem. He should therefore encourage you to speak up about your reactions to the aids he suggests, after a brief trial period. On the other hand, if you go through three or four different brands and then buy nothing from him/her, you have used a fair chunk of his time and appointment space, and this has a cost. Normally that would be borne by your eventual purchase. If you walk out without buying anything then, IMHO, it would be reasonable for him to charge you a fee .
Good luck with your search.

The analogy of hearing devices to employers isn’t fair. Audis/dispensers allocate a few devices for trialing. After those devices are put to use, audis/dispensers sell them (can be found on Ebay). Hearing aids that cost upto $6000 is a big investment for those who can afford it (most can’t), so it makes sense that they return it. I’m sure you’ve heard of many unhappy customers whose devices end up in the drawers, hardly or never used.

AmericaHears.com and Costco both provide trial periods with no charge if not satisfied. It may sound “fishy,” but I think their low pressure tactics and satisfaction guarantees are good business practices that result in fine reputations and referrals that are worth more than the non-refundable fees some charge for “free” trials.

My audiologist, from day one, has allowed me and encouraged me to try different brands of aids, at no cost to me, saying that it doesn’t cost him anything. Of course all audiologists are different, and some state laws make a trial period mandatory, with a full refund. Anyone implying that someone who is offering such a thing as being a fishy deal, or offering a trail period, with a non refundable fee, or stating that there is no such thing as a “free lunch” would never get my business. Custom ear molds are another matter and assuming they fit properly then I expect to pay for them.
What each audiologist’s policy is, is up to that audiologist, and as long as he or she is up front about it then I don’t have a problem. But when a person questions others who have a full refund trial period or makes negative remarks regarding that policy, then I have to seriously question that persons integrity.