My Sam's Club Hearing Aid Experience

I’ve been wearing the SIE96 WL for about a month. I’ve worn hearing aids for the past 28 years, until this time always ITE. My old hearing aids are Resound hearing aids from 1997… each having been repaired once in all that time. They were pretty much the best on the market at the time. They still function. (one of the repairs was just last year) The problem is that I haven’t had anyone that can reprogram them for the change in my hearing.

Fast forward to 2015… Finally got in to see the hearing aid specialist at Sam’s Club. (I’d been checking for months, but she was always with another customer, and I know those appointments can be long.) She was friendly and seemed knowledgable. I did not feel like I was pressured to buy. She didn’t really ask me about preferences though, just went with the SIE96, which I think is their mid-range model (at $1599 each). I figured she was the expert and I’d been told before that I was borderline as far as ITE aids go because of my loss.

Getting used to BTE has been a challenge. The double-domed tips were irritating my ears to the point where I had to take the hearing aids out because my ears were inflamed. I was hoping I just needed to get used to them, but finally went back. She gave me two different styles of tips to try out. The feedback was terrible, so I went back again and we took molds of my ears to order inserts.

Aside from that, the quality of music was so bad it wasn’t even enjoyable. Adding a music program helped. Seems to me that should be a standard program. Why would I need to go back for that? Doesn’t everyone listen to music? I realize the audio quality is different between analog and digital, but should it be awful?

I can’t hear behind me, or on the phone with these things. I couldn’t hear well enough to realize I had a wrong number when I called my sister to tell her our mother died. That’s about the worst possible time for to have a problem hearing… the point of getting new hearing aids was to hear BETTER.

So, can’t hear on the phone with these I figured I’d invest another $399 in the HLT Relay. Went in she hooked it up. (I finally got a look at the computer screen… the software looks like it is running in Windows 95!) Tested the device. Sounded like folks were talking in a tunnel, and the people at the other end thought the same. But I could understand them, and that was what I needed. Then she said the computer told her she needed to update my firmware, so she hooked them up again and ran a program. Handed them back and the right aid was dead. Then it wouldn’t connect to her computer, so she got on the phone with tech support and they apparently could bypass the prompt telling her the cable was not connected… and they got things working again.

Well, she didn’t notice they RESET the hearing aid. It was no longer paired with the relay. So I got home only to find out that it wasn’t working on one side. So, again, useless. Went BACK again and she re-connected it. Did more testing, this time in the sound booth because checking the audio solely in a noisy warehouse club is, frankly, stupid. Did some tests, spent more time on the phone with tech support because there are some issues with the relay. She and the support person decide I’d be best served with power power tubes. So she hooks those up and we test a bunch of stuff. Unfortunately it’s not real life stuff, and because of all the background noise the system is modulating the noise levels. I got home to realize that in a quiet environment any sharp noise is like a gun shot in my ear. Door closing with a click, light switches, setting a glass on the granite countertop, and worse… the phone ringing or my dog barking. OUCH! Isn’t there a maximum volume? I don’t get it. I feel like I’m wearing the temporary amplifier I bought on Amazon for $60 last year.

And I realized during the one phone call I had that the microphone is muted while Im on the phone. I can’t hear myself at all, it’s as if I have ear plugs in, because, of course, I do! So then I turned music on to see how THAT would sound… the microphone is on blaring my voice into my ears. Exactly opposite of how it should be.

So back I go… I told her I emailed Liberty because I’m still having problems with relay. (they haven’t responded) When I make a call from my iphone I don’t hear any ringing and when it finally connects to my hearing aid the person has already been talking for a couple of seconds trying to figure out why nobody’s responding. Well, that’s a problem! I actually need to hear who answers the phone. We spent a bunch of time with the loudness issue, which is about 50% fixed.

Further, if I turn my head while using the relay, the left side turns off. And though she was supposed to turn the mic back on during phone calls, apparently it didn’t ‘take’. (yesterday she supposedly couldn’t look at the info about my hearing aid settings without them hooked up, but today she could…)

Now she’s telling me she called support and they think he relay must be a dud. That’s assuming the problem is in the relay and not in the hearing aid.

I’m done. 6 trips now. Trip number 7 on Monday will be to return these and head over to Costco.

(Incidentally it had just occurred to me yesterday that being a small company and a private label, and only sold in one franchise, customers are really at the mercy of the company. What if Liberty goes out of business? Or something happens and one needs help while not near a Sam’s Club. Sort of screwed then.)

Wow. That sounds like a mess! I’ve been wearing HA 25 years and never experienced a combination like that.

A lot of that sounds like the tech at Sam’s isn’t very proficient. I think you’re doing the right thing by trying Costco.

The connectivity issue- turning your head and one ear drops out - might be more or less normal. My Rexton Mini Blue does that, especially the right ear. If I turn my head the other way, it reconnects. I’m trading these in for the Rexton Trax 42 next week. It uses the Smart Connect box rather than the Mini Blue. As the neck loop is an antenna, I’m betting it works much better.