Hearing aids, trial periods and the FDA

Hi All,

I joined this forum several months ago to ask some questions about some issues I was having with my new hearing aids. I’m new to hearing aids, (as of about a year ago) and not very experienced.

I’ve thought about sharing this particular experience with this forum and hesitated, wondering what good it would do… well, I’ve decided to go ahead and post it in hopes it might help someone else.

I experienced a sudden hearing loss due to an accidental loud noise trauma. I had hoped my hearing would improve in time, and it did to some extent. But after several months I realized I needed hearing aids.

The first hearing aid dispenser/audiologist I visited, whose name I won’t mention, was very impressive. He was a Dr. of audiology, and seemed very knowledgeable. It seemed that every word that came out of his mouth was like sliver and gold. He had me sold, hook, line and sinker, on the aids he was selling, so I went for it. The dispenser had a 90 day 100% money back guarantee, which was even more enticing and comforting.

Well, to make a long story short, after a couple of months, I decided I wanted to try another brand of hearing aids. So, I opted for the refund. The Dr. was friendly and cordial and said I would received a check from them in about 2 to 4 weeks, after they received credit from the company. So, I waited 2 weeks and called; the company had not issued the dispenser a refund yet. I waited 4 weeks and got the same answer. I waited 6 weeks and called again, and the Dr. said something that seemed strange; he said the reason my refund was taking so long was that the hearing aids were registered by the FDA and when they are sent back to the company, they have to be de-registered/un-registered and that is what took so long.

Up until now, everything the Dr. said made sense, and he seemed very competent… until I called the FDA. When 2 weeks turned into 4, then 6, then 8, well I begin to wonder if I would even receive the refund, which was substantial. So, I went online to the FDA website and found a consumer information phone number. I called and got a voice mail several times and left a message several times; I never received a call back.

Finally, I called and got a live person. The lady told me her name and ask how she could help. I told her what the Dr. of audiology said about the FDA having to un-register the hearing aids that were returned and that is what was taking so long to get my refund. The woman with the FDA on the other end of the phone line begin to chuckle and laugh (which surprised me). She said that once the returned hearing aids are sent back to the company, the FDA had absolutely nothing to do with de-registering returned hearing aids. She said to call the Dr. and tell him to issue my refund immediately, and I could use her name as a reference.

My confidence in the audiology Dr. was shattered. I called the audi-Dr right away and the secretary answered and said he was in a meeting. I mentioned to the secretary why I was calling and that I had contacted the FDA, to confirm what the Dr. had said and the representative with the FDA contradicted what he told me. A few minutes later, I got a call from the secretary and it seems that the company had issued them their credit, and now, I could get my refund.

If there are other audiologist or hearing aid dispensers reading this, what do think about this tactic to stall issuing a refund for returned hearing aids?

When it comes to purchasing expensive hearing aids, do your research and buyer beware… Maybe sharing this experience will help someone else.

Best regards,

HGR

I have always found it interesting that we often have trouble placing our trust in an auto mechanic, but have no trouble placing our trust in someone in the medical profession. The white lab coat, the framed certificate on the wall, and the sparkling clean office, all seem to ease our fears and gain our trust.

But in reality, the medical field bears very little difference from the auto repair field. Or any other field for that matter.

I often tell people, look around your workplace, notice the people you like and don’t like. Trust or don’t trust. People who know what they’re doing and people who have no clue. Now imagine you and all of your coworkers as doctors and nurses.

There’s good ones and bad ones. And usually more bad ones than good ones. You really have to dig deep to find out who the good ones are.

Thank you for posting this story, I think it is very helpful. I’m sorry this happened to you, but glad you finally got your money. Have you found a good audi since then?

Have you found a good audi since then?

The hearing aid dispenser I’m using now has a “hearing aid fitter” rather than an audiologist, that I’m dealing with now (though there is a licensed audiologist available with this company). She has had a few years experience and training, but she is not an “audiologist”, I don’t think. Nevertheless, I have been better satisfied with her services and performance than the Dr. of audiology I referred to in my first post. So, I suppose the answer to your question is, no, I have not found another audiologist, but I have found a good hearing aid fitter.

Thanks for the comments!

HGR

Thanks for posting this. Last week I returned a pair of aids under trial and hope I don’t have the same problems.

Randy

Well, yeah, I should have said “provider” rather than “audi.” My experience was similar in that I first went to a Doctor of Audiology, and was very dissatisfied. Ended up with a Hearing Instrument Specialist who is absolutely awesome. From my research, while there is a lot more a Doctor of Audiology can do, when it comes down to simply fitting a hearing aid it matters more who the person is rather than what degree or certificate they have.

Glad to hear it’s working out for you.