It is true that for the most part Oticon and most other hearing aid manufacturers operate in B2B relationships only and an end user (such as those of us wearing their aids) must contact their HA dispenser or audiologist to reach out to the HA manufacturers for us, if necessary. Generally speaking, if you are having a problem with your hearing aid you must go to the dispenser to fix it.
Most hearing aids are sold with warranties - repair warranties and replacement warranties. The decision on whether a repair or replacement of a hearing aid is covered by the warranty is not made by the dispenser, but by the manufacturer – it is the manufacturer who issues the warranty. Usually if the dispenser believes a repair or replacement is covered, the manufacturer will agree.
I recently had an experience in dealing with all this. I had received brand new Oticon Agil Pro’s in May 2011 via my audiologist in Baltimore. I knew at the time that I was going to be moving overseas to Israel. So, before she placed the order I asked her to please contact Oticon and make sure that a) they have a presence in Israel (dispensers), and b) that both my repair and replacement warranties would be honored in Israel. The answer from Oticon was YES to both and so we went ahead and placed the order.
I had mine made with custom earmolds. I disliked the generic shells.
I moved to Israel in August 2011. In October, my left hearing aid stopped working and I went to the Oticon HA dispenser in Tel Aviv. They refused to honor my warranty and insisted that if they fixed my HA I would have to pay for it (a lot of money, that I simply do not have). I went home and emailed my audi back in Maryland. She got in contact with Oticon and after several weeks of wrangling (Oticon, the dispenser in Israel, the audi in the States, and me) they agreed to honor the warranties. I then went back to the dispenser here who fixed the HA. Then a few weeks later it stopped working. They fixed it. Then it happened again. After it happened FIVE times I decided enough was enough. The aid was faulty. I wanted it replaced, not repaired. Again, the dispenser balked. I went back to the audi back in Maryland but for some reason at this point she felt like she could not intervene. I do not know why. So, I took it upon myself to do it. I sent emails to the higher ups at Oticon, and to the owner of the dispenary in Tel Aviv, and I copied everything to the audi in Maryland and even to my caseworker at the Dept of Rehab Svcs in Maryland. I did not use BCC. I wrote a very nice letter, detailing my experience as a hearing aid user in general, my understanding of hearing aids and then of the issue at hand. I did make sure to let them know that I have a legally binding warranty and that I expected them to make good on it.
It took nearly two months of back and forth. I was relentless in my pursuit of justice for myself. I sent an email twice a week! Ultimately, my hearing aid was replaced – the entire aid, including the earmold (which is NOT covered!).
I found the people at Oticon to be wonderful to deal with and even at the place in Israel. Once they know that Oticon is going to pay for everything, then they are fine. BTW, this same aid would cost me $3000 in Baltimore, MD, costs about $4500 here in Israel. (and that includes tax – these items ARE taxed in Israel, unlike in the US where medically necessary items are tax exempt!)