With an estimated 48 million people here in the U.S. suffering from some degree of hearing loss. It makes sense that there are scams associated with hearing aids, especially given the fact that many of the individuals in need of these devices are elderly and not knowledgeable about technology. Current studies show that one in every three elderly people has hearing loss that would benefit from some kind of hearing device. The problem is not all hearing aids work like you might expect them to or they use a marketing tactic that is less than honest. Consider three hearing aid scams you need to avoid.
1. Getting a Mail Order Hearing Aid
Years ago, hearing aids were a one size fits all prospect. The initial hearing assistance devices were trumpet-shaped you would put up to the ear to collect sound waves and make them louder. These days, hearing aids are both better designed and more convenient. If you choose to buy mail order, you might as well get ahead and settle for that trumpet. A top of the line hearing aid is customized to the wearer’s ear – something you can’t get through the mail. They also offer add-ons that fit each person’s needs, too. Instead of hunting for something online, do your shopping at a certified hearing aid dealer and get fitted properly. The price may be more, but so is the value and most dealers have financing plans available for you to consider. A hearing aid is an investment, so make sure it is worth the price you pay by shopping in person. Buying in person also allows you to make comparisons of different brands and models to see what each one has to offer. You can only learn so much from a picture on a screen or in print. Buy a quality hearing aid from the right dealer to ensure you have a good fit, all the right features and an honest warranty.
2. Settling for a Short Trial Period
A short trial period only serves one purpose – to push users into purchasing a less than perfect device. Smart shoppers need more than just a 10-minute demo or three-day trial to really get comfortable with new hearing aids. It could be that a business that shortens or completely eliminates the trail period is getting rid of an old display model, something that was returned or a product that they have had complaints about in the past. Even if you know the brand and model you are considering, there is no guarantee that particular unit will fit right or work well. It’s too risky no matter how you look at it. A savvy hearing aid consumer understands the value of a good long trial period. Shop only with dealers selling devices they can back up with a 30 to a 90-day trial, along with an in-store demo. You’ll need that much time to try the aids in a variety of real-life situations. An experienced dealer will even extend the trial period if you need more time.
3. Marketing Madness to Push the Sale
It’s an old expression but “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is appropriate in the hearing aid industry. There are companies that use online and print marketing to create a sense of urgency around their products.
- Buy one get one free
- Buy one get a free gift card
- Today only discounts
Marketing gimmicks like this push buyers into making a purchase quickly. The hearing aids they rushed to buy may be a poor physical and lifestyle fit. There is more to picking out hearing aids than just price. For example, you’ll want a professional hearing test before you buy to provide essential information to ensure a hearing aid will work for you. It allows you to select a style that best fits your level of hearing, too. You also need time to consider adding features. Things like directional microphones or Bluetooth access sound interesting but do you really know what they are for or how they affect you personally. Take you time and do some homework. Don’t buy until you can answer these questions:
- What is your level of hearing loss – requires a professional hearing test and medical exam
- What different styles work best for your life – is behind the ear okay or do you want something more compact and stealth
- What does each feature do and how does it improve your hearing life
- What are the warranty and trial period
- Are there any hidden fees
- What is the average battery life
These are all critical questions that you don’t have time to answer when pushed into the sale. You are making a choice when buying hearing aids that are going to change your life. Do it right and avoid hearing aid scams.