HearSource Self-Programmable Aids, A SCAM

Bait and Switch operation. Self-programmer did not work as described in their tutorial videos. Hearing aids were just junk. Long delays in shipping, and in refunding my money as promised by the 30 day guarantee. I had to threaten them with legal action before they sent the refund, but they took 10% as a restocking fee. Cost me over 200$ plus lots of time and anxiety. . I can give you the details on this sordid, reprehensible, time-consuming scam.

I would have no problem going to Costco. They are like any audi or HA center; there are good ones and there are not so good ones, but the thing Costco has going for it is no matter which Costco you go to, you are going to get basically the same price, the same trial and return period(90 days), decent hearing aids and a good warranty.

The main advantage of self-programming is that YOU DO IT and then go out into the real world and see how things sound. If they sound “tinny” or whatever, you go back and reprogram until they sound right. No waiting two weeks for a follow-up. Cost is secondary, but clearly important. As for “Brand Names” I have worn them all: Costco Bernofon, GN Resound, Phonak, and now Starkey. All costly and crappy. I think I can do better myself with good hearing aids and a good program. No need for a PhD! That is the wave of the future. Audiologists will always have patients who will not learn how-there are 50 million people in the US today who are hearing impaired. Some of those 50 million disabled with hearing loss want to be free.

How can you possibly say all those brands are crappy? Is that really what you wanted to say?

The advice to stay away from Costco seems completely unwarranted. There isn’t a safer purchase anywhere.

The above just shows you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. I can understand saying you like one brand over another but to describe 5 major brands as crappy is completely inaccurate. Your welcome to your opinions but wow.

Did you self-program any of these brand names? How do you know they’re crap if you didn’t adjust them yourself? Seriously, you’ve ruled out some of the top manufacturers in the industry. Which hearing aids are “good” in your opinion?

Of course I did not program any of those brand name hearing aids myself. How could I? You cannot get the program to do that. Only an Audiologist/dispenser has access to those programs. As for cost: My most recent “sales” talk with an audiologist for the cost of new hearing aids started at 4500 and went up to 6500 bucks a pair! I am a retired senior on limited income. Maybe YOU can just eat that kind of expense, but it is not trivial for ME. Maybe you can shrug and repeat that mantra “you get what you pay for”…well tell that to the masses of hearing-impaired retirees, working poor, and others who just cannot pay that kind of money every few years. And it is only a few years. My current superpower Starkey aids are crapping out after only 3 years-one bombed after two. Initial cost 4000$. Cost of repair, 500 bucks! My first hearing aids were nondigital, and lasted me 12 years! Now I cannot find a dispenser who will sell me a nondigital aid period. There are some nondigitals available on Ebay-good luck with that. I need good digital aids that I can program myself to help me take control of this disability without going broke. It is sad that this company, HearSource, was so rotten. Maybe I will try America Hears. I will see. As far as I know, only those two companies sell self-programable. Why only two? I do believe that there is a market for good, reasonably priced, self-programmable hearing aids, offered online from a company that refuses to do the tricks and switches that HearSource did to me. HearSource could be headed for a great future if it would get the program corrected to work-and stop the scams.

I trialed Resounds Forza from Costco. They were excellent. Yes there were some issues bu with Costco there is absolutely no risk The cost was not 6,000, 5000, 4,000 or 3,000. It was $2499.00.

I ended up purchasing MicroTech/Starkey Avail 13 from a small local Independent dealer. Rather than a $4000.00 price, the price was around $2600.00 including the Surf Link remote. This is about 40% lower than other independents in my area. I got that price by opening my mouth and telling him what Costco was offering. Not all dealers are willing to haggle but you gotta look around,

These prices aren’t cheap but they are certainly better than most. Take the time to look around before blasting the mfg… If you buy a $13,000 KiA for $28,000 whose fault is that?

I apologize for making this a rant about costs. I am not trying to blast audiologists, dispensers, or the manufacturers. This issue of cost is not my major concern. My first post was a warning to others of an internet scam. But there are other issues. One is “Why do I want to self-program”? Well lets look at that: When I go to an Audi/dispenser, they first program the data from the audiogram into the hearing aids. Easy to do. Then they put the aids in my ears and ask: “How does that sound”? Not so easy to describe. If I say “tinny” they change the program, boost the low frequencies maybe, or change the compressions. You know the process. For someone with mild or moderate hearing loss one visit may be sufficient. My loss is severe to profound, so it usually takes at least 3 visits, often more. This process does not work well for me. It makes no sense for me to try to describe how the hearing aids sound in the privacy of an office. Often they sound OK until I go out and hit the real world. To me it makes more sense if I have control over the programming myself. I can download a program into the aids while wearing them. Then I can try that program for a few days out in the real world. If the program needs tweaking, I can do it now-not 2 weeks from now (or 4 weeks which was my experience with very popular Costco). Of course the industry is not going to smile if a lot of prospective customers get self-sufficient in this way. Maybe they will respond by reducing the costs. I doubt that. But I hope you and others who read this thread understand. People who get to be hard of hearing should have the choice of good self-programmable hearing aids. There will be a huge market for that. It can and probably will happen because of the power of digital technology: digital aids, the digital computer, the internet, and the free market. As it is now, the fitting and sale of hearing aids is not a good example of the power of any of these revolutionary tools. And my experience with HearSource just saddens me. That could be a very successful company. No need for cheap aids, programs that don’t work, or money scamming.
We are sometimes fooled. as I was, but we are not fools. We are trying to improve our lives despite our disability. I have no qualms about calling hearing loss a disability. It can destroy you if you let it. If my hearing goes entirely, I will learn ASL and join the deaf community. I admire them. They have their own language, ASL, their own community-and they have their pride. And they have my great respect.

Try america hears.

Do you use America Hears? What model? How Long? What do you think of the “self-programming”? Any problems with the warranty or repairs?

I wore America Hears for several years. I’m now in a pair of Costco ReSound aids, and for me they were a better value. I use the technology in the ReSounds, not found in any America Hears aids, every day. I was also surprised to see how much prices had increased since I last wore America Hears aids. I looked at the website again last night after reading this thread.

My loss is a lot worse than yours. The only America Hears Aids that will fit me are the new BTE model 510, that cost 4000 a pair. Yes, that is a lot of money for online hearing aids. But at least they have a decent warranty-60days refund, 1 year all repairs. And they do not zap you with a restocking fee if you return the aids. And the Better Business Bureau gives them an A. HearSource was a B. I think it should get an F.
By the way…How do you put in your audiogram values when posting on this forum?

Go to User CP in the blue band at the upper left and click on it. On the next page that appears click on Edit Signature in the left column, part way down the page. Then a box comes up that you can type in a signature that gets added to every post. Type in what you want, follow the instructions to save, and you’re done.

I also found hearsource a while back and wanted to program my own aids. They ended up helping me without knowing it. To order from hearsource, I needed a recent audiogram first, so I called my audiologist to make an appointment. While on the phone, I mentioned hearsource RIC and that I could program them - just needed an audiogram. When I went in the next day for my appointment, he said “I have a deal for you” and he proposed (at near cost) Unitron Moxi 12 hearing aids. These would be my first RIC aids (I used Unitron Yuus with earmolds before). He also threw in: iCube and TrueFit software ((for programming my aids), Dry & Store, cables for Hi Pro (I had mentioned that I wanted to program my old aids), UFit software (for Hi Pro and old aids), uTV2, and uDirect2. He told me thanks for letting him know about buying aids somewhere else. I was a low maintenance patient, so he could give me this deal. I have not needed his help for programming (or anything else) yet, but I will go back to him for any needs, including my next aids someday. One thing great about this is that I can work with my audiologist if needed, such as for warranty replacement or other advice, issues. And of course it saves us both time for adjustments. I went in for one initial quick fitting when the aids arrived. He has a large monitor that allows the patient to see what he is doing so I could watch him set it up. He immediately saw that I needed a power dome for the right ear (needed more gain). When I got home, I used the iCube to backup his original settings. Since then I have changed several things in the aids on my own. I am very happy with this deal.

So some audiologists will work with you for self-programming. I also think that more and more in the future, tech minded people will program their own aids - and maybe some audiologists will work with patients over the Internet - fitting from a website.

George, I’m all for self programming. I work for a computer software company and work with computers all day long.

I’ll probably get some self programmable aids soon just to be able to play with them.

Are none of the hearing aids offered by Costco powerful enough for your loss?

Reply to arupert: Well you are lucky to have a flexible and intelligent audiologist. I was once fitted for phonak aids with the I cube and it is great. Looks like a simple program too. I am surprised that you can use the I cube for non-Phonak aids.

There is a seller on ebay named help2hear that deals mostly with rebuilt Phonak aids, and he has a lot of helpful information in his links too. You and others may want to look at his shop, and particularly look at his information links. The Phonak program for Icube is online in one of his links. I also see some Icubes available on ebay now and then, but they are made in China and are over 400$, and I hesitate to buy from China. I may try buying from him.
I see very little on this forum about self-programming. I think we who are hard-of-hearing need to consider that. There will be a market for it if more of us demand it. But I doubt audiologists/dispensers would help with this. Unlike your audiologist, most are sworn to secrecy. So unless I find someone willing to make the kind of sale you got, my options are few. After dropping HearSource, I am left with America Hears aids which are 4000$ a pair for my loss-not much better than the price you pay for a middle range pair you buy from the local audi. Or I can go with help-2-hear on ebay.
Good Luck and thanks for your story.

Reply to Sho: My last experience with Costco was about 6 years ago. At that time my hearing was just going from moderate-severe to much worse. Costco did not really do a good audiogram on me-they basically used the one from another audie that was done some months previously while I was shopping. They fitted me with Bernafon aids which soon became underpowered. Worthless. ( I gave those aids to a teacher who said she worked with hearing impaired children and could find them a home) After that 2000$ lousy experience, Costco wanted me to buy 3000$ higher power aids that were just being developed. I tried them and they did not do the job. Of course I needed a lot of tweaking, but my Costco has a long line for appointments. It was just a risky purchase with a lot of hassle. I was getting very profound-cannot hear without aids, so I moved on to other options. That is a long story of defeat and dismay, for the most part. I got so frustrated with the whole hearing aid business that I started learning ASL. Deaf is not DEAD, I say. Finally I did find an audi who seemed to take pains to get me fitted well-many visits for tweaking. But he got very popular too for being so good, so his prices went up and his appointment book was very full. After all he should be rewarded for his careful approach-and that is happening. I may stay with him, but his last sales pitch to me was AGX aids, which is now his product line ( really Oticons in disguise), and cost $6500 with some Bluetooth stuff. Not for this senior retiree on fixed income. Anyway, I am reticent to return to Costco and have obvious reasons for wanting to do the fitting myself. As I have said, it is not just about cost, although that is a big issue for those of us who are retired and living on fixed incomes. It is also about time and frustration. It seems like I have been spending half my leisure time sitting in audiology waiting rooms, spending scads of money on instruments that do not work well, that die in moisture all the time, and that go dead about the time that your contract expires.

georged,
Before you went to HearSource did you do a search about them on the HA Forum? I seem to remember last year several people had experiences very similar to yours. They couldn’t get the aids programmed right and when they returned the aids HearSource told them the HA’s basically had to be unused and then socked them with a large restocking fee. The only way they got their money back was to threaten them with legal action and then and only then did they got their money back. I would say they are probably a good company to stay away from.

The reason the ICube works with the Unitron HA’s is probably because they are part of Phonak; much as Bernafon is part of Oticon.

I can see why you would want to to self programming but with your hearing loss I think it would be a challenge to get them just right on your own without the help of somebody. Not knowing where you live I would call around to various hearing aid centers and see if you could get a deal similar to arupert. Another possibility besides Costco is if you were ever in the military, if you were contact the VA they would more than likely give you the HA’s you need. Good luck!

Yes. I checked the forums. Mixed and limited to just a couple of entries. One very bad,a couple very positive. But mostly I banked on my experience with an earlier HearSource repair. One Starkey aid went dead after a little more than 2 years-shortly after the warranty expired. My audi quoted me a charge of 500$ for the repair. I checked online. HearSource would do it for about 100$, but offered a 1-year guarantee for $140. I went for it and they came back repaired OK. I waited a month and the aids proved to be OK. So I decided the company was trustworthy, and I bought into the 2000$ package.( With one 2000$ aid going dead, I got worried. Remember, I cannot hear anything without these aids! Totally dependent on this industry. I am determined to get out of that serfdom!) What followed was a nightmare of switches, delays, and scams. If anyone wants the sordid details , I can post an attachment with the history. I cannot say that the hearing aid industry is all rotten, but in my state, California, enough rottenness has prompted passage of the Song-Bird law which requires dispensers to take back hearing aids for a full refund within 30 days of the sale (no restocking fee, but cost of the earmold is excluded) NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I live in Clovis, next to Fresno. Not the richest part of the State, but it is my home and I have been here 40 years. And I remind everyone that hearing “health” is just a small part of the huge US trillions of dollars medical industry that recent studies suggest is riddled with scams and inefficiencies.