From time to time, you may see hearing aids deals advertised with ‘buy one, get one (sometimes abbreviated as BOGO) FREE’. Or - ‘50% off this week only’ or other lucrative sounding enticements. If you’re thinking that this sounds too good to be true, you’re probably right. Most consumers realize “There must be a catch here!” when something sounds like it’s a really amazing bargain.
Most often, the ad is simply designed to get you through the door - so they can sell you something FAR more expensive than what was advertised - and perhaps more than you really need for your particular hearing loss. “Bait and switch” is not unknown in sales and more especially in hearing aid sales. It’s not like a grocery store where they’ll sometimes have a ‘loss leader’ - something sold at less than cost - in order to entice customers into the store where they’ll buy a whole lot of other things. How many sets of hearing aids will you buy, even if one pair is ridiculously cheap?
One local hearing aid dealer, now deceased, used to vigorously advertise on television, “I can get you the best possible hearing aid at the lowest possible price!” Think about that. What does it mean? What’s the ‘best’ and ‘lowest’? (Is the ‘best’ something bought in bulk from a factory in China at $30? Is the ‘lowest’ the $1,500 or more you might wind up paying?) It was gimmick advertising - but he sold lots of hearing aids that way, we’re sure, because people didn’t stop to think about what the words actually meant.
Don’t be fooled by advertising: if someone offers a deal that’s too good to be true, think twice. You might also consider seeing us for a ‘second opinion’.
One ‘offer’ we hear about all the time: There’s a hearing aid sales company in our area who will tell you that you need two hearing aids at a cost of $8,000. If you protest that it’s too much money, they’ll offer to lower the price to $6,000 and offer instant financing through their own finance company where you’ll pay almost as much in finance charges as you paid for the hearing aids.
And did you REALLY need two hearing aids? Some of our patients actually only need one, sometimes one is all you can afford.
That’s something to consider also. As P. T. Barnum used to say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” We could go on and on - but if you’ve been to someplace like that, talk to us about a second opinion before you go ahead. You’ll find we will very likely be a LOT less expensive and we won’t try to rope you in to some high-interest financing by a company we own either.
(See more about financing here.)
(Unless, of course, you want to….)
We’ve heard from folks who’ve come to see us, after dealing with others in our area, that they were told they need to buy new hearing aids every three years. We suspect some car dealerships would love to have you believe that as well - but do you REALLY need to change or is it just a ruse to get another sale?
Well, probably, it’s a little of both. It all depends….
A car, reaching the six or seven-year mark, may be running quite well or it may be on the verge of heading to the scrap yard after a new starter, a balky transmission, etc. It likely depends a LOT on how well you take care of the car (regular oil changes, etc.) AND how much you drive. You might think about hearing aids the same way. Do you get regular checkups from your audiologist, change the wax filters when needed, and take care of them or do you man-handle them, drop them on hard surfaces, etc.? ALSO, has your hearing changed? As we get older, it does.
Now changes in hearing shouldn’t be that great a problem. Hopefully whoever sold you your hearing aids should have considered aids that would accommodate a reasonable change in your hearing level - and on one of your regular visits, you’d have mentioned this to the Audiologist so that adjustments could be made. If, though, you’re now undergoing radical medical treatment such as cancer therapy involving ototoxic drugs, your hearing will likely change rapidly - hopefully not enough to require a change in devices(s) right away.
On the other hand, new technology is coming out day by day. Back up cameras in cars used to be highly expensive and far to ‘techie’ for the average driver. Now, particularly for those who are older, they can really help prevent ‘mistakes’ in driving. As we get older too, these conveniences can add significantly to our welfare and enjoyment of life. Can you pick up your smartphone and change the volume on your hearing aid based on your surroundings? Wouldn’t you rather do it that way more discreetly than reaching up to your ear?
So, as we said: it depends.
One other factor: all manufacturers have a limited life during which they’ll provide ‘factory’ service. Again, it’s similar to a car. The older it gets, the less likely you can find original equipment parts.
In addition, while most of the mid- and high tier hearing aids have a three year manufacturer’s warranty, it’s again like a car: once you pass that warranty period, if there’s a major problem with your hearing aid (you stepped on it and crushed it to pieces, for example), it’s probably better in the long run to replace rather than repair.
Finally, it’s great to have something that your comfortable with - as long as its working at its best. However, don’t forget to think ahead and consider the benefits of ‘moving up’ every now and then. You’ll thank yourself, I’m sure!
(Note: Our Administrator who wrote this has driven a couple of Subarus into the ground and always got the ‘base model’. However, now that he’s gotten older and they’ve got all kinds of newer safety features baked in, it’s time to change both his attitude and his vehicle. Do yourself a favor and don’t just consider time/price: it’s the quality of your life that really matters.)
With the invention of behind-the-ear hearing aids and what are referred to as bubble tips or domes, an entirely new generation of instruments began to evolve. No longer were you forced to endure a big hunk of plastic in the middle of your ear and no longer did you get that ‘stuffy’ feeling similar to what you experience if you cup your hand over your ear and try to talk.
For the hearing aid dispenser, these proved to be a boon as well. Now, a patient (or client, as hearing aid dealers refer to people) could be fitted with a narrow selection of plastic tip sizes. No longer was skill required to take a mold of one’s ear and hope that when it was made, it didn’t hurt. It was great - and a lot faster too!
However, what we and a number of other good audiologists soon came to realize was one size didn't fit everyone:
- Some people couldn't find bubble tips that fit well or were comfortable
- Sometimes a bubble tip would come out of the ear with possible loss of the hearing aid
- Certain hearing losses really need to have the ear closed off to have a consistent hearing experience
As a result, ear molds made of clear, soft and comfortable material designed to hold the tip in the optimum location yet remain barely visible was developed. Our experience over several years has shown that patients have significantly better results when ear molds are used. Not everyone needs them but for those who do, it’s almost a must. Without an ear mold, you may be fiddling to keep that bubble tip in the right place.
This is something we feel strongly about. If you buy your hearing aid(s) at someplace that doesn’t even mention such things, it may be because they don’t have the technical expertise to take a good impression of your ear canal. Or, sadly, it may be because they don’t want to spend the extra time that it takes to give you the maximum benefit from your device. We do! The small additional cost of an ear mold will prove to be greatly beneficial in your future hearing - and you’ll never know how much less benefit you might have had without it.
We’ll talk more about this with you if it’s something that you should have.
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