My Review of BuyHear.com

#1

I lost partial hearing due to an autoimmune illness suffered in January 2016. It ended up causing damage to the apex of my cochlea and resulted in a unique hearing loss, a Reverse Slope. This is essentially the opposite of most hearing losses. Where I can hear the high frequencies just fine, but cannot hear the lows. My ENT told me I needed hearing aids and gave some business cards for local hearing aid dealers.

Initially I purchased from Costco after reading some good stories here. I intended on buying the KS6 aids at the time, but the fitter insisted that I purchase the Bernafon Juna 9 aids. From what I read here, these are aids recommended for many musicians or concert lovers. I am neither. So fitting after fitting went by and I asked about other aids and the fitter at Costco basically said they were all junk other than Bernafon. Needless to say after 3 months I returned them and never looked back. I think my bad experience is solely due to the pushy fitter. He also took phone calls during (literally) my hearing “exam” which really showed me a lack of interest in my hearing needs.

I ended up reading about BuyHear.com on hearingtracker.com. Allegedly Oticon was coming down on them for their low prices. Whether this was true or not, I’m not sure, but it turned me on to researching about them. I didn’t want to spend 6k and up on hearing aids when I’d rather spend that money for my kids’ college fund. My health insurance like many others doesn’t cover hearing aids.

Needless to say I called BuyHear and spoke with Mark back in June. I explained I needed a very skilled fitter considering I don’t have a traditional hearing loss. He let me speak with The fitter who would be programming my hearing aids. The fitter had a background as a HIS working in his father’s ENT office. He said he had fitted about 10 other reverse slopers before and was up to the challenge. I ordered a pair of the Oticon OPNs in July 2016.

BuyHear has provided the exact same service that Costco did other than they cannot test my hearing or perform a R.E.M. test. Personally I wasn’t overly impressed with the initial fitter, after several fittings where we went back and forth basically. He seemed to be winging it.

However, BuyHear seems to have grown exponentially and have hired other fitters. Joel, my current fitter is very patient and schedules a follow up fitting every week to see how things are going with my new fitting and to adjust the settings. We’ve had maybe 4 sessions so far.

Things are by no means perfect, but that is mostly because I have a moderately severe hearing loss and have high expectations of hearing aids. In fact I ordered the Oticon OPNs because I read that Oticon’s proprietary fitting formula (VAC) is optimized to properly fit all losses, reverse slopes included.

I would grade BuyHear an A-
Great prices, premium aids, and convenience.
When I needed a repair, it was painless and I was given a loaner set. When I needed additional supplies, there was no questions asked. And most of all when I needed to schedule a programming session, it was painless. I have no affiliation with them, but wanted to give a truly unbiased opinion.

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Fitting and orientation fees
#2

Does that mean that they sent you the remote programming kit and you get to keep it for a while for your 4 sessions with Joel so far? Did you start fitting with Joel after your OPNs were returned from repair? How long to you get to keep your remote programming device (I assume that it’s the Fitting Link 3.0?) before you need to return it. I assume that they must have sent you the Fitting Link 3.0 a few times now? The first time on your initial fitting, and perhaps at least one more time after your OPNs came back from repair until now?

I also remember that you were fitted with open domes in the first place which caused you a lot of challenges in noisy environment, until you later tried out the closed dome (or maybe vented bass dome) which worked out for you better? Was that Luke’s idea to fit you with the open domes?

If you’re pretty done with the fitting and return the Fitting Link 3.0, but later changed your mind like you did and tried a different dome (like going from an open dome to a bass dome), do you have to pay for shipping to have the Fitting Link 3.0 sent back to you again for further fitting?

Thanks for sharing your review on BuyHear.com here.

I’ve begun to hear about FactoryDirectHearing.com as another online source that has even better pricing than BuyHear.com. I wonder if anybody who’s had experience with FactoryDirectHearing.com would care to share their experience here with us?

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#3

So I’ve found with BuyHear that the “rules” are very loose. I had the programming kit for about 2 months, then sent it back after I figured it was as good as it could be. Still wasn’t happy and requested the kit back. They sent it back to me promptly and I’ve had it ever since. I bought the aids in July and I’ve had the kit for all but one month since then. When I ordered my aids, they sent me an assortment of domes and we just kind of started with open domes as that is what the Costco fitter recommended for me previously.

My guess is going forward if after I send the kit back, they would probably charge me for shipping since Joel has been very thorough and practically forces me to schedule a weekly follow up fitting. My guess is probably because they want the kit back, but also because they likely get a lot of business off word of mouth from this site so they want customers happy, particularly those who post here. And correct, the kit I have connects with the fitting link via Bluetooth. I haven’t hear about FactoryDirectHearing, but it seems like that is the route this industry is moving along.

On a side note, I totally forgot I still have the loaner pair of OPNs in my dresser drawer. Need to get those shipped back soon.

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#4

Wow, that flexibility and great support is how they can win customers over. And whoever heard of the service provider being proactive in getting the services scheduled regularly, right in your own home no less. If they can keep up with this kind of service, online HA dispensing is going to be big business.

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#5

Am intrigued with your post as I too have reverse slope loss and have struggled with getting anything that really helps my hearing. I recently relocated to Chicago and found an audiologist that has reverse slope loss herself and seems to understand, more than anyone else I’ve spoken with, whats involved in programming for this type of loss. While I was at her office she had me demo a pair of Oticon OPN Level 1s and I was blown away by how much I could hear and understand without straining, particularly human voices with a fair amount of background noise. The rub is that she wants $7200 for a pair of these babies, which seems outrageous to me relative to what I’ve been reading on this forum.
I see the same units for sale at BuyHear.com for $3998 (minus the option of rechargeable batteries, which isn’t that big of a deal to me and can apparently be retro fit for the option anyway. Now that you’ve worn these for a few months, do you have any further review of both the HAs themselves and the programming offered by BuyHear.com? It’s very tempting to me as my health insurance doesn’t cover HAs and I’ve got 3 kids in college at the same time (ouch). But my hearing has gotten to the point where it’s seriously affecting my life, my job, etc. and I need to try and do something. Any advice, recommendations, etc greatly appreciated.
TIA!

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#6

If I found an Audi who had a reverse slope him/herself I would personally go with the Audi. Would the Audi negotiate on the price? BuyHear has been good, but it’s like any regular fitter; not much experience with reverse slope. Lot of trial and error and research on my part. I’m in a good place now, however, after numerous adjustments.

What are your word recognition scores? Your audiogram is similar to mine other than the notch I have on the left ear at 4000. You could ask BuyHear to duplicate my settings and see if that works for you compared to how the Audi you visited did. BuyHear has a 60 day money back period.

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#7

Hi RobinH, you mentioned that while at your audi’s office, you got to demo the OPN 1. I was wondering if the audi let you take home the OPN1 for a test drive, because you mentioned that it works for you with speech in noise, and I wouldn’t think that there would be a lot of background noise at an audi’s office in the first place? Was this background noise in a restaurant setting or something like that?

Also, I wonder what kind of dome did the audi fit you with for this short trial? Thanks.

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#8

That’s what initially attracted me - the fact that she has reverse slope herself. But no, she’s not willing to negotiate on price. I called her this afternoon (she’s the owner of the practice) after I saw some of the online prices and she told me the reason she charges this much is because the fee not only includes the HAs themselves but 4 yrs of warranty, replacement loaners if mine need to be repaired, an unlimited amount of visits for re-programming, and a 90 day trial period. Plus her knowledge of fitting for reverse slope. If I return them within the 90 days, I get everything back except $100 service charge. All of that is understandable and if it weren’t for the fact that I have 3 college tuition bills to pay this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with her.
I’m still mulling this over so no decision made as of yet.

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#9

Hi RobinH, you mentioned that while at your audi’s office, you got to demo the OPN 1. I was wondering if the audi let you take home the OPN1 for a test drive, because you mentioned that it works for you with speech in noise, and I wouldn’t think that there would be a lot of background noise at an audi’s office in the first place? Was this background noise in a restaurant setting or something like that?

She took me to a restaurant next door to her office. This was during a busy lunch hour. While the background noise was much louder than what i’m used to hearing without HAs, I was mostly able to pick her voice out without much of a strain. This is something I hadn’t been able to do with other aids. After that, she put me into her soundproof room with a male colleague and turned on some serious background noise through the speakers. He and talked and she noted what I had trouble understanding. Then she made some adjustments to the programming, which improved things. She said it takes some people a fair amount of time to adjust to these particular HAs because the technology behind them is different than traditional HA technology. For this reason she extended the trial time from 60 to 90 days.

Also, I wonder what kind of dome did the audi fit you with for this short trial? Thanks.

I haven’t worn BTEs before so I’m not sure what the domes she used were called but they looked like the ones on the far right in the picture. She did say she didn’t think those were a perfect fit for me and would want to try other possibilities if I ended up trialing these.

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#10

Yeah, it looks like you were fitted with the double power dome.

It looks like she knows what she’s talking about when she told you that these particular HAs require a longer adjustment time because the technology behind them is different than the traditional HA technology. A 60 to 90 day trial extension is nice, but I still think 60 day (as offered by BuyHear.com) is good enough. I’m impressed that she has simulated background noise set up through her speakers in a soundproof room. That has been my longest pet peeve, that I notice many audi offices don’t have that set up.

As for the unlimited adjustments, I think that most of the adjustments would happen during the first 60 days anyway, so the value of being able to do more adjustment after that is not a big deal in my opinion. However, you may want to ask BuyHear about their firmware update policy/process because there has been a couple of firmware updates on the OPN already and you’d want to know how BuyHear would provide this service for you remotely. It’s easy for them to send you the wireless programming device to do adjustment remotely, but the firmware update needs to be done via a wired programming device. But they can easily send it to you as well to do remotely. The question whether they’ll charge you for shipping cost.

The 4 year warranty is a surprise. I only got 3 year warranty on mine. BuyHear.com only offers 3 years as well. I thought 3 years is the standard mfg warranty for the OPN. I wonder if she misquoted you on this, or if Oticon has changed their warranty length, or if she just added another year for her customer on her own dime. It’d be something I’d ask for more clarification if you decided to go with her.

As for replacement loaners, I think BuyHear.com gave Tony replacement loaners as well when he had to send is back for some warranty repair.

I didn’t go through BuyHear like Tony did. I went through an independent audi channel myself because my medical insurance pays for 95% of my HA cost for in-network. I asked and my audi waived the $100 return service charge on her 60 day trial period offer. I also got unlimited visits for adjustments. But like I said, after the first month or two you really don’t need to come back again, except for when there’s a firmware upgrade. In the case of my independent audi, she quoted me $6,200 for the pair of OPN1, and I paid 5% out of pocket for it ($310). But then she billed my insurance for $7,200 (instead of $6,200). She was hoping to get 70% of the $7,200 (because she’s out of network so only 70% instead of 90% coverage applies) which would have amounted to $5,040. But my insurance company refused to pay that price and negotiated down and they finally paid her only $3,700 and she accepted. So between that and my $310 copay, she only cleared $4K, which is the same price that BuyHear.com charges.

My whole point in sharing this with you is that it seems funny that we don’t have any negotiation power with the audi, but insurance companies know exactly what it should cost and the audi bends to the insurance companies but they don’t bend to us. Anyway, if I didn’t have insurance coverage, I would have gone through BuyHear myself. The price difference of $3,200 is simply way too much to absorb. I’d be willing to pay an extra $500 and maybe as much as $1K for the service of a good audi who knows what they’re doing, but I’m just not sure if it’s worth $3,200 more.

If the extra 4th year warranty is legit, I’d add a value of maybe $300 for that 4th year of warranty, which is a typical repair cost for a pair of HA. But don’t forget that many credit card companies also offer an extra year of warranty after the mfg warranty expires. I remember I was able to get American Express to cover the cost of my repair of my out-of-warranty Costco hearing aids because it was still within a year after the Costco HA warranty expired.

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#11

Don’t forget also that BuyHear is not the only online company around. I believe FactoryDirectHearing.com has the OPN 1 for even cheaper than BuyHear.com, at only $3,758 for a pair. They’re not as popular as BuyHear on this forum but I have heard a testimonial from a forum member (forgot his name, but you can search it) who is very happy with their service as well.

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#12

Both of these companies are having a hard time getting OPN1’s (delays of a month or more). For FactoryDirectHearing, the price is very good, but you just can’t get them (at least last time I checked). I’ve recently been able to trial the new Sonic Innovations Enchant 100 aids (basically, OPN1 rebranded and somewhat modified; the iPhone apps are identical), and they sound as good as OPN1’s to me (Oticon and Sonic are owned by the same holding company - William Demant). They are also less expensive. Might be worth looking into.

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#13

Is everybody on this forum blind? Can’t you guys see that FactoryDirectHearing is just another shell company that Buyhear established to try and circumvent manufacturer restrictions on internet sales? The two have the same website design and content (at least before Buyhear rolled out a redesign earlier this week).

There are currently no supply issues or delays with Oticon Opn. Oticon is cutting off Buyhear’s air supply by tracking down the dishonest dispensers who are reselling aids to Buyhear. And Sonic will soon follow. Here’s what Oticon told one of their large distributors earlier this month:

(We recently talked with Gary Rosenblum, President of Oticon, about black market-type websites such as buyhear.com. While Oticon technology can be found on this site, the company is not in support of these direct-to-consumer online sales, and is making an effort to stop them from happening.

“Practitioners out there believe—mistakenly—that Oticon is actually supporting and selling to buyhear, that we are allowing this to happen,” says Rosenblum. “On the contrary, Oticon is taking a very strong stance against what these internet re-sellers are doing. Oticon’s history and reputation is based on supporting the clinical practitioner and the hearing aid dispenser. We are dedicated to being a manufacturer and supporting our customers. We are not going to circumvent them and sell to these direct-to-consumer sites and internet re-sellers.”

It’s important to understand that the majority of the time, these re-sellers are getting the hearing aids through hearing aid dispensers, not the manufacturers. What’s more is that there is not a lot the manufacturer can do once their products are on the site. Oticon has been working hard to cut these sales off at the source, as a hearing aid dispenser selling to another dispenser is in violation of Oticon’s policy.)

Buyhear is running a very shady business and won’t be around to support you in the future. Don’t be tempted by their rock-bottom prices.

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#14

There are so many lies and misrepresentations here it’s hard to know where to start (besides advising you to delete the post or find an attorney). BuyHear and FactoryDirectHearing have ZERO relationship; it’s true that they had a very similar site (not anymore), and it’s also true that BuyHear was using that site design LONG before FactoryDirectHearing “borrowed it”.

BuyHear is not in the LEAST a shady business; it’s customers, as near as I can tell, are as happy or happier than those who go to audiologists. My understanding is that they have NEVER failed to get a warranty repair done for ANY customers, and that they also personally stand behind their sales. (I guess I’d also say that Oticon isn’t exactly a great friend of consumers; where is the ConnectClip promised for a year ago, for example - when I bought my OPN1’s, that was part of the reason I bought).

I’m not surprised that audiologists like you (and I have to think that’s what you are) worry about companies that try to provide customers with fair prices; it’s bad for your bottom line. Whats really not going to be around in the future is the current model of hearing aid sales. Hearing aid sales are going to go the same route as most other retail businesses - new channels, new markets, separation of sales and service, etc.

I feel that you’re the blind one, my friend. Smell the roses.

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#15

I am much happier with buyhear than I have been with any of the 7 audis I have seen in the past 20 years. Adjustments were easily & professionally done remotely from the comfort of my kitchen table. Mark actually listened to what I was explaining & adjusted the aids accordingly. I have left many audis with the felling that the adjustments were worse.

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#16

I wholeheartedly agree with Chatteremail here! What’s most broken about the current audi channel is the fair pricing. If there’s no fair pricing through the audi channels, consumers are going to flock to other places where there’s more fair pricing like Costco or online. Nowadays with so much information sharing, people are not ignorant about where to go to find the best deals anymore, and they’ll vote with their wallets. So if you don’t adapt, you won’t survive. And it’s not just only about pricing, it’s also about convenience of services as well. That’s why Amazon is putting retail stores out of business because people can just shop online and have the items delivered to their house in a day or two, even if pricing is the same.

New sales channels are going to happen where the demand is, whether it’s due to pricing or to convenience or both. Fighting this trend is futile. Using scare tactics by rallying the support of mfgs is not going to be sustainable in the long term because eventually even the mfgs will also have to bend to where the demand is and agree to supply to that demand channel. The smarter mfgs that do this will be the ones who will win out over the long run. That’s why even though some mfg may publicly disavow online channels to appease to the audi channel, they continue to allow it to happen behind the scene because they know that those consumers who buy online will just buy online from other mfgs or go to Costco and will never go back to the audi channel to pay the unfair prices, so why would they want to lose the business from those consumers?

It’s better to be smart and start adjusting now and go with the flow than to continue to fight the flow. My audi has already adjusted and was willing to accept a fairly negotiated payment from my insurance company for the cost of my OPN 1. In the end, she got around $4K total for my pair of OPN 1, and to her, it’s better than insisting on an unfair high price and ending up never getting my business in the first place. And she found my business because she was local provider affiliated with an online HA sales company that I contacted (which is another way she found to expand her business). If she had not been affiliated with them, she would never had gotten that referral of me from them. In the end, I ended up doing business directly with her for a better price than through that online HA sales company. And to clarify, this online HA sales company don’t sell HAs directly to customers like BuyHear. They just find the customers through advertising then refer the customer to local audis who are affiliated with them for fitting, although they still maintain pricing control and give a cut to the local audi.

The bottom line is that the HA dispensing landscape is changing like anything else, and if the local audi channel don’t adapt and offer better and more fair pricing, they’re going to eventually go out of business and no scare tactics is going to work on the consumers and no strong arming is going to work on the HA manufacturers.

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#18

I am curious if anybody has experience buying a custom HA from BuyHear or FactoryDirectHearing that requires an ear mold to be sent to them as part of the process. I know that OPNs do not have a custom configuration yet. I am considering Resound or Signia.

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#19

I heard some forum member mentioning that BuyHear does sell the BTE13 PP version, which implies that they do offer an option for custom molds because this version requires custom molds.

OPN does have custom configurations. For their miniRITE models (the 1, 2, 3) and the new miniRITE T-coil model, beside the 65dB and 85dB receivers which don’t require custom molds, they also offer 100dB and 105dB which automatically require custom molds.

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#20

To be more precise I am interested in the ITC style to replace my Alto Pro ITC hearing aids.

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#21

For ITC/CIC I like the idea of the Signia Silk Primax. No need to have a custom mold.

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