Hi all, I’m a long time reader, first time poster, because I’ve come across a dilemma. I’ve got several aids now which are 5-6 years old that I spent thousands for, which are no good for my particular hearing loss anymore. I know I can donate my hearing aids, but I couldn’t find any other option. Because I am a web programmer by trade, I was thinking about throwing together a site real quick (maybe an auction site) where people can post their used hearing aids for sale. Of course they would need to be remade for people, etc, but I’m just wondering if any of the readers here would hypothetically go through the trouble. I don’t know what demand is like, I just know there has to be a lot of supply, as there are thousands of people like me that have old (perfectly good aids) sitting around. This isn’t a for-profit venture, it’s simply a side project I would do to help out our community and many others. Any thoughts?
These could be auctioned on eBay now.
An upside is that people who otherwise couldn’t afford aids may be able to get them this way.
Some of the downsides of setting up your own site to do this, or buying aids this way:
- Some audiologists may be willing to take on and fit and service a customer for previously used, 5+ year old hearing aids, but many will not, because the ratio of risk vs. benefit to the audiologist is not good. If there's a problem (and the chances of a problem are higher than normal), the audiologist gets blamed by some customers, and they're not making much money on this kind of work, so many say, thanks but no thanks. (If I were an audiologist, I know I would pass... Part of the risk problem for audiologists is that um, cheapskates who may be attracted to this kind of deal can be the least reasonable to deal with and most aggressively blame the audiologist if or when it goes bad.)
- Your aids may be kosher, but a fair number of used aids offered for resale have been stolen, say from Grandpa in the nursing home. If a police report is filed, the aids can be blackballed by serial number, and no reputable audiologist or service facility will work with them. On eBay, the money can usually be recovered from the seller in this situation. On a private site, a scammed buyer would usually be SOL and pretty unhappy about it.
- Sellers will want to sell aids they have no good way of thoroughly testing (Dad died two years ago) other than "as is," and well, see above re: stolen aids and re: unreasonable customers expecting Cadillac support for Yugo aids. Same problems if the aid can't be used by the buyer.
- 5-6 year old aids, even "lightly used" ones, have greatly diminished resale value due to diminishing support from manufacturers and repair facilities as well as updated, better designs, and the fact that many buyers, audiologists, and repair facilities don't want them. Your lightly used older aids may still work "like new" but many 5+ year old aids have been heavily used, even abused, and are on their last legs and will need service now or soon, and buyers have no way of knowing which they're getting, so the demand and resale value is low. It is possible but harder to get 5-6+ year old aids serviced than new aids. Parts may be hard to find. The cost of repair for older aids will often exceed their resale value.
I can’t tell you how many patients over the years have told me they wanted to resell their hearing aids and recoup some of their money. I’ve even had people look at me like I’m an idiot (missing out on a lot of business) because I don’t buy back hearing aids from my patients. The problem is, hearing aids are really not capable of being resold, for all of the reasons above and so many more. Donate them.
@Hamjor: Every single one of these arguments could be made about used cars, but I’ve never noticed a problem finding mechanics who will work on them, and the market itself seems pretty robust, to say the least.
I bought new aids on eBay. They were last year’s model – by 2 weeks – and I saved thousands of dollars. This is good, for me anyway. I’m a student, so I don’t have a lot of money but I need to be able to hear well in a variety of environments, some of them acoustically challenging.
The Cadillac/Yugo analogy is grossly unfair, because I’d be happy to pay a reasonable price for what I know is a highly professional service, one that demands a lot of skill and commitment.
The problem is the audiology business. What a terrible model! This is like surgeons making their money on selling you, say, the hip replacement implant itself, while taking a loss on their services.
Hearing aids are not a luxury. They’re no more dangerous, or prone to wear, or impossible to test, or inherently less useful than – my example, but there are others – used cars. Yes, some will be better than others, and, as they say, caveat emptor. But overarching arguments against a used hearing aid market don’t really make sense. And, there should be a way to get quality work done on one’s own aids – which BTW are “used” the minute you buy them – without getting the message, implicitly or explicitly, that you’re a cheapskate who’s trying to game the system.
Another argument on used HA, concern all the HA’s that are returned after a trail period. I don’t think they are destroyed by the companies that make them or the Audiologist that sells them, but they are in effect USED Hearing Aids and should be sold as such. They should also be sold with the reason or reasons they were returned by the previous owner and how many people have trailed them.
Your post is spot on.
I have a very lightly used PC that is about 6 year old I’m looking to get rid of. I probably have $750 invested in it. I’d be lucky to get $50 for it on craiglist. Now that hearing aids are technology driven digital devices they depreciate like every other digital device.
I agree with alot of what is being said about the problems of used hearing aids.
One way around a number of those problems would be to persue a more Car Max Business Model. More of a consignment shop model. The seller would send his/her hearing aids to a Hearing Aid Max. Hearing Aid Max, would evalutate the condition of the Hearing Aids and estimate a cost of bring them up to specifications and assign a price that they would pay the seller. A price which would allow for them to resell them at a reasonable profit. Since where dealing in many cases with a product that originally sold (2) for about $ 6000. it may be profitable.
Their are still several sticking points:
o The rapid technology change in the market does depreciate hearing aids even faster than cars.
In general the used market for electronic devices is quite small.
o The need to have the hearing aids “fitted” i.e., setup/tuned for the new user is non-trivial and costly.
Too bad one of the Hearing Associations doesn’t pick up on this.
Maybe it just would operate as a similar service for donations…like Thrift Shops … with the addition of evaluation and repair. The original owner would get little money but some satisfaction of helping others. They might be sold or at a very low price to the poor. But at least would not end up in the land fill. Eye Glasses use this model, but they are easier to access condition and "precription numbers) … and much quicker and easier to “fit”.
Food for Though,
Sound for Pondering
Some people on this forum have purchased aids online only to find they could not find a local professional who would service the aids because they were not bought from them.
One thread is here.
Aid technology is not fast. 5 year old aids are almost identical in essentials to what is being sold today. Hearing aid technology is pretty mature despite the baloney ads.
There is little profit to be made by professionals in selling used aids…certainly when compared to new ones that typically sell retail for twice their dealer cost.
Professionals make there living by selling their time and skills. Selling a used aid will require just as much time and skill as selling a new one…maybe even more. Ed
Most states dictate that only licensed professionals sell hearing aids. This may apply to used hearing aids as well. The FDA also has many restrictions on the hearing aid trade, such as mandatory trial/return periods, etc.