Ripped off?

My son was given Octicon agil demo aids and a streamer to try before ordering. Loooong story but he lost one of the aids and the streamer. The ENT is now charging me full retail price for both ($3200 for the aid and $200 for the streamer) These were demos! While I am willing to pay the cost for the office to replace them, I don’t think I should have to pay retail! Surely Octicon is not charging the office full retail for demo replacements??? Any help or advice would be appreciated!

Sorry to hear about your dilemma.

Even though the aids were mentioned as demos it doesn’t necessarily mean that the ENT was given some sort of demo pricing. Hearing aid manufacturers do not make special demo hearing aids for Specialists to demonstrate.

I demonstrate hearing aids in the office also. They are real hearing aids, no different than the ones I order brand new. They are also priced exactly the same.

Maybe they will turn up!???

I wish someone with knowledge would answer this gentleman’s questions. Good business practices should cover these common occurrences of lost with insurance. Nevertheless the business should not be making a profit.
In my experience i have walked out of a Aud’s office with $6000 HA’s trials and no paperwork signed because the Aud had lost insurance coverage. Most hearing aid purchases come with paid temporary insurance coverage for loss and damage.
So whats up? The true cost of the aid only is less half the retail markup price.

Hi Melfan3

For a start, it has always been my impression that if anyone trials hearing aids, then the supplier covers the insurance! Put simply, you cannot get insurance for something you do not own!!! Tis their problem, not yours if they did not cover your son! I have signed several of these insurance covers whilst trialing many different HA’s… Tell them to go sing for their money and don’t pay them a bean!!!

Cheers Kev.

I posted this on the other OP’s post before I realized the discussion was on this thread.

If I loan a pair of hearing aids to a patient they are fully responsible for them. A document is signed by both myself and the patient detailing the terms of the loaner/demonstration period and that they accept full responsibility, acknowledging that if they are lost/damaged beyond repair, they will pay the full amount of the hearing aid as if they had purchased it. A copy of a credit card or a check for the full amount is held/kept on file as a sign of good-faith. I currently work in an ENT office and as far as I know, there is no “loss insurance” to cover hearing aids that just never get returned. We are out that money because in order to get the hearing aid from the manufacturer, we have to pay for it. We cannot call the company that made the hearing aid and tell them it was lost and get our money back. We would have to take the loss, and that loss is substantial. Even if a patient was to purchase hearing aids and lose them within the coverage period (usually 1-3 years), replacements are not free, there is a fee charged to us that we pass onto the patients since they are the ones that lost the hearing aids.

It is generally done to prevent individuals from being dishonest by receiving a loaner/demo and then claiming to have lost it when in actuality they did not, hoping to get a free (or essentially free) pair of hearing aids in the process. Unfortunately everyone is penalized for the poor choices of a limited dishonest few. I have personally never had anyone be dishonest in this way and I have worked in various settings (both ENT offices and dispensing offices) and in various parts of the country for 13 years. I have only been able to do loaner/demo units with no money required in ENT offices I’ve worked in, not in the 2 dispensing offices. If a loaner in the dispensing offices was neede (or a demo) the patient had to pay in full and then the amount was refunded back when the loaner/demo unit was returned and deemed to be in equal condition to when they received it.

You could contact the ENT office and see if they are willing to accept an amount smaller than the replacement cost. If you did not sign any agreements to pay for the full-sale amount when you received the demo units if they were to get lost or damaged or if you did sign something but this wasn’t clear within the agreement then you might have good standing to present that as an option. Quite frankly, if you signed nothing when you received them then the fault may lie with the ENT office since there was no agreement between the two of you detailing the terms of the demonstration period if one should become lost/damaged and you might be able to pay nothing at all.

It is unfortunate that the hearing aids were lost. One thing to consider…Hearing aids have a funny way of turning up. So much so that I refuse to replace lost hearing aids within 2-3 weeks of patients reporting they have disappeared. Even in some situations where patients were “100% sure” they were gone, they miraculously appear 10-20 days later in a place and time when they least expected it. I’d say this happens probably 95% of the time. If you just discovered they were lost, give them a week or so and maybe it will be found…

Actually, these were marked “demo” on the side, so they were specifically not for sale to the public.

Thank you for your reply on both posts…wasn’t sure where to post it at first. I have tired to work with this office with no luck. I did not sign any type of agreement, and since they have been so uncooperative, I have decided to pursue that argument and pay them nothing. They say they are sening it to collections and if they do, I will have to take them to small claims, I suppose. They have no proof I even had them!! It’s too bad they couldn’t have been more cooperative, they would have at least gotten some money for them.

As others have said, they should have insurance on these things, since I was unable to get insurance on something I did not own. Thanks everyone for your advice!

I know the relationship is soured now - but surely, if you agreed just to buy new ones from them they would have been able to deal with the fact that the demos were lost.

That was probably just the audiologists way of keeping them straight, not anything to do with the aids themselves.

I think you have a responsibility to the audiologist and to your son to do the right thing and replace them. It’s a great teaching opportunity for you and your son.

It’s possible that if you agreed to buy a set at full price that he would cut you a deal on the one you lost. It’s worth a try. You could also see if you could pay it out in payments.

If you just let it go and they hire a collection agency they can submit it to credit reporting agencies and it will effect your credit report. You really don’t want them to take that step.

I think you would be better off talking to a lawyer about this. Just ignoring everything could have consequences you hadn’t counted on. Ignoring a collection agency could have a negative effect on your credit rating. Stop fighting with everyone and speak to a lawyer. It’s the only way you’ll know where you legally stand on this.

It is unfortunate that it has come to that on both ends, but as a professional, I agree that ultimately the fault lies with the ENT’s office for not having you sign anything when you received them. They will have proof that you had them most likely with a chart note and definitely with a fitting record. I’m not sure what legal recourse they have though without you receiving anything detailing what would happen if they were lost to recover what they paid for the devices. Unfortunately they should have been more concerned with replacing the demo hearing aids and worked with you instead of pursuing the course they have chosen to follow. It could very well end up coming back on them for not working with you and effecting their standing when it comes to hearing aid dispensing.

You may be looking at quite a battle with the collections and possibly small claims court…I would expect that it might be more beneficial for the office to just settle and accept that the first mistake was them not providing better documentation about terms of their Demo procedure. Although your son ultimately lost the hearing aids, they should have given you information about what would happen in that instance and what you would be responsible for, exactly. I should think this would especially be an issue when dealing with children (not sure how old your son is) because, well, they lose things a lot. My 4 year-old can’t even remember where she leaves her shoes 80% of the time let alone a hearing aid.

As for insurance, again, I am not sure that an ENT office can take out insurance on hearing aids in the way that many posters on this thread imply they should. I do not know of any kind of insurance that my office has in place if this were to happen to us…although you better believe I will be asking my office manager about it today.

We run a trial invoice mechanism here. The customer is informed of their responsibility to replace the aids if lost.

There’s an easy way for the original poster to resolve this though: ask the practice to produce the invoice to indicate the wholesale price of the aids and offer to repay it in full. I’d be massively surprised if the practice actually paid for the marked Demo aids at all. Check the invoice date too, if it’s after you requested the invoice, it’ll be a bogus one created for your benefit. Even if they did pay for them, the offer to settle the actual incurred cost would normally be adequate in law: they are not entitled to claim missing ‘profits’ as the aids would never have been sold.

Agree with the above that doing nothing is wrong though: you had a duty of care to look after the property which was being loaned to you on the condition that it would be returned. It might not have been explicitly written, but you did enter a verbal contract on that basis: there is no doubt that you took the property from the shop and didn’t return it - you can’t walk away from that.

My point of view is that the full price of a hearing aid is including service for 3-4 years. You should not need to pay that part of the price.

But, he may not want to reveal his markup. If he says OK, just pay me the $1400 invoice cost his markup is out there for the OP to see. He’s not going to make a sale with this client anyway, so he just has to worry about people hearing about it.

If he was smart, what he could do is act like the bigger person and say “I see you are in a tough spot and tell you what, let’s just split it, I’ll pay half and you pay half”. That way he gets paid for his cost and he doesn’t reveal his markup.

It’s hard to believe nothing was signed. No contract? No purchase of new aids to be delivered in a week or two?

When were the demos supposed to be returned?

I hear what you are saying Um bongo and 2 wrongs does not make a right!

If what you are saying is correct, then the dispensers most likely got these clearly marked demo models for nothing and will in that case get another set of demo’s for nothing as a replacement? Firstly they are most likely being liberal with the truth by asking this lady to pay for something that they most likely got for nothing! To add insult to injury they want the full profit margin on something they paid nothing for… In my book, if someone is being liberal with the truth and trying to screw you twice, then they are entitled to absolute zero, which is exactly what they paid!!!

This lady tried to be nice and pay the actual cost of the loss, instead they got greedy… Sadly this is typical of many sectors (but not all) of the Hearing Industry, pure greed and a healthy lust for profit with very little if any moral code!!! I reiterate, let them sing for it…

Cheers Kev;)


I don’t know what the customs are in the hearing aid biz but IF they got them free and IF they can get replacements free, then I agree with you. They are not entitled to profit from something they can get replaced for free.

But, I’m assuming one of two things, either they have to pay for any and all demo units or there is a small limit on the number, like two pair for each new model. They may have exhausted their allotment of free aids, so any new ones might be regular wholesale price.

If either one of those things is true then I say the person has a responsibility to restore the audiologist to their previous situation, in other words, replace it.

But, I don’t think the OP should have to pay for bundled services and profit. It’s just tricky getting there unless there is another source.

Would one of you pros want to sell the OP a hearing aid for $200 profit, no services? That way it would not hurt your local business and the OP can replace the aid for near-wholesale.

Hi Don, here in the UK I have had at least 4 sets of Hearing Aids that I signed for nothing whilst on trial’s, none of them were demo’s! In fact I have had 2 sets of HA’s out at the same time from the same company, so I could compare them simultaneously (Ambra SP’s & Naida S IX’s) just sent over the post! Had I been a devious person, I could have easily kept them both! But, I was given them in trust and that meant a lot, I would never abuse that, so I paid for the Ambra’s in full and returned the Naida S IX’s… But, this is different!

Cheers Kev.

I think UmBongo gave excellent advice.

I have 2 pairs of DEMO hearing aids…they are not easy to get actually…or at least weren’t for me. I had to get approval from upper management that my account representative obtained for me, and it has taken me nearly 2 years of fitting their hearing aids to get them. I am not at a huge office so I don’t sell hundreds and hundreds of hearing aids a year. I was only able to get DEMO units from a company that I fit regularly, and by that I mean probably 70-75% of my fittings are this manufacturer. If patient loses the units I would replace them and that person would OWN those hearing aids entitling them to all the services/care that come with a new hearing aid purchase. So at least in our case, paying full price is completely acceptable since they now own the product and all the benefits that come along with that ownership.

I think the forms asking for patients to replace what has been lost at a cost similar to or at full price is more motivation for them to keep track of the devices so that they don’t become lost then a penalty. The goal is to prevent this from happening in the first place. Unfortunately some people need to have major consequences in order to do what they should be doing anyhow. A financial one is pretty good motivation to treat the units perhaps better than they would if they owned them themselves. I believe it’s completely different when children are involved because they are just more likely to lose things, especially things that are not important to them or more likely, that they don’t like to begin with. A child might not understand that “losing” the hearing aids has ramifications and just because they become “lost” doesn’t mean that they won’t need to wear them.

I was at a Mercedes-Benz dealer and they let me drive a new model unaccompanied.

Unfortunately, I lost the car. I signed no papers beforehand.

Don’t I have to pay the dealer.

Of course I do. It was a obvious loan. The only question is do I pay them full retail or their factory invoice cost plus any dealer prep.

What I am saying is in reality, I lost the car…it is my fault. I should at least pay the dealer their full costs. I think the dealer would be a fool to ask me to pay full retail as I would bad mouth them forever, costing them many future sales.

By the way if you see a Mercedes 600 limo red with white fenders please let me know. It was my loan car. Ed

Aye Don

More like frightened to reveal their profit margin!

Hi Ed, you may both have hit the nail on the head… therein might be the dilemma! This lady’s ENT department may be stuck between a rock and a hard place, they may have to charge the full retail price for fear of letting her know how much they actually pay wholesale? For instance, Phonak sells there Naida V UP to the NHS here in the UK for around £120+ VAT per aid, which = £144 or £288 for a pair = $458.09! Now the same set of aids on the UK high street will set you back around £3000 per pair or $4,771.75!!! Now I’m definitely not saying any hearing aid company has the same buying power as the NHS, because they are the largest dispensers of HA’s in the world, but lets say for the sake of argument they were paying just over double £600 per pair = $954.35… That’s still a very hefty profit margin!

Cheers Kev:D