Buying hearing aids online can be a great way to get a quality product at a reasonable price while also saving you a significant amount of time. While it may at first seem unusual to buy your hearing aid online, you will quickly find that it isn’t that much different from going into a physical store – and often it can be much easier.
Before You Begin Researching Your Hearing Aid Online
Before you begin looking into vendors or start buying hearing aids at all, you first need to see a local doctor or audiologist to have a complete hearing test performed. Once your test is complete and you have received a copy of your results, you can move forward with researching hearing aids online.
It may be daunting to make that first phone call or send that first email, so take some time beforehand to sit down and make a list of the goals that you have for what you’d like to achieve when buying hearing aids. Do you want to be able to hear your grandchildren speaking to you? Do you want to be able to go out to dinner and hear people in a crowded restaurant? Talk to your friends and family to see if they have any other suggestions before you purchase your hearing aid online.
By making this detailed list, you will find that you have a jumping off point for asking questions about buying hearing aids and you can feel confident that all of your concerns are covered. However, keep in mind that some of your goals may not be feasible – but an honest vendor will tell you this right up front, and will explain to you the reasons before you make your final purchase of a hearing aid online.
Sending Your Audiogram
Almost always, once you have made an initial inquiry for more information from a vendor about purchasing your hearing aid online, the company will ask for a copy of your audiogram. This will help the vendor assess your particular hearing loss and determine which products will be best for you. This step is critical – if a vendor does not ask for your audiogram, or if you are dismissed when you suggest sending it, a red flag should be raised and you may want to reconsider buying hearing aids from that company.
After the company has received your audiogram and reviewed it, someone will contact you about buying hearing aids or, if you prefer, you can call or email to follow up. At this point, you can ask which products the company offers are right for you and which products will help you to hear the best. Here, you can refer to your list of goals – and the person to whom you are speaking about buying hearing aids should take the time to listen to what you are asking and to ask you additional questions. This longer discussion can help an audiologist fit you as a person rather than as a piece of paper when you are buying your hearing aid online.
If you have already done your research about buying hearing aids and have an idea of which products you are interested in, mention them. However, the person with whom you are discussing purchasing a hearing aid online should have your best interests in mind and should not simply sell you whatever you are asking for without explanation. For example, you may be interested in an open fit hearing aid, but the audiologist may explain to you that for your particular type of hearing loss, a behind-the-ear hearing aid will give you better results. Essentially, you are looking for an educated recommendation from a vendor selling you a hearing aid online, rather than for someone who is willing to sell you anything you want, or to push the most expensive product on you.
Before Buying a Hearing Aid Online, Get Your Answers in Writing
Since you will be buying hearing aids from an online vendor, you will want to ask many questions to ensure that you are comfortable with whomever you choose. Most importantly, you will want to get all of the answers in writing before buying a hearing aid online so that you have something to refer to in the future. If you ask your questions in an email, the emailed responses will be sufficient. If you are strictly having telephone discussions, you may want the answers emailed, mailed, or faxed to you.
When you ask for any information in writing about your purchase of a hearing aid online, do not let yourself be made to feel as if you are inconveniencing the company or suggesting that the company is trying to cheat you. You are, instead, protecting yourself so that in the future you will have backup if the price does change or if something else is not as what you were originally told after buying hearing aids from that vendor.
What to Ask When Buying Hearing Aids from an Online Vendor
With that in mind, after you have narrowed down your focus to buying hearing aids from a particular product line, you should then ask about pricing – and get the answer in writing. Along with this information, you should request the name of the person to whom you are speaking and the length of time for which this pricing will be effective, as well as whether it is a special deal or is something standard offered when purchasing your hearing aid online from that vendor.
Next, you should find out about the vendor’s return policy, which is extremely important when you are buying a hearing aid online or over the phone. It is federally mandated that you have 30 days after buying hearing aids to return them, but some companies will also add a restocking fee to your return, which can be up to 10 percent of a hearing aid’s price. As always, ask for this policy in writing if it is not already available on the company’s website or in any materials they have sent you.
Also, find out what warranty will be offered when you are buying hearing aids, including what is covered and the length of time for which the warranty will be valid. In addition, find out about the programming costs – are you allowed a set number of adjustments before you are charged, and if so, what are the charges? Also ask if you can program your hearing aid online or if you have to take it somewhere for adjustments.
Finally, because you will be buying a hearing aid online, if you need repairs and do not want to void your warranty, you will need to send your hearing aid to the vendor to be fixed. Find out what the repair costs may be, as well as for how long the vendor will keep your hearing aid if you need a repair (ideally, no longer than a week, even in busy time periods).
Buying Hearing Aids Online: Handling Fitting from Afar
When you are satisfied that you have found the vendor from which you will be buying hearing aids, you can place your order. If your hearing aid is of the type that needs to be fitted, the vendor will likely either send you a kit that you can use to form your own ear impression (with the help of a loved one) or give you the option of going to a local audiologist to have the impression taken for around $75. Either way, you will then send the impression back to the vendor, who will use it to fit your hearing aid to your specifications – all without ever needing to meet with the vendor in person!
Purchasing a hearing aid online can be as easy as buying it in person from a local vendor, and often it can be even easier. With today’s technology, you can be in touch with your online vendor as often as you need to be when buying hearing aids, either by email or telephone, without needing to make an appointment far into the future or needing to drive around town or take time off from work. Make sure that you always feel comfortable with whomever you are speaking and that you feel confident that all of your questions have been answered. If you do your research and take your time, you’ll be able to buy a hearing aid online that’s right for you.
About the Author
Henry Smith is the founder of America Hears, a leading manufacturer and distributor of hearing aids online for over 26 years. Henry started the company in 1979, following a 15-year career at the Pennsylvania School of the Deaf, including his work as an Acoustic Technician. Henry is a pioneer in the use of computers and the Internet to allow customers to have a hands-on approach to the tuning and adjusting of their digital hearing aids. He strives to be customer-centric in all aspects of his work.