The Internet has become a go-to source for many consumers when shopping for anything from shoes to furniture to hearing aids. For the hearing aid consumer, the Internet serves as a wonderful resource tool when learning more about hearing loss and researching hearing aids; however, for purchasing hearing aids online consumers should proceed with caution.
The cost of hearing aids is often cited as a primary reason for people with hearing loss not purchasing hearing aids despite understanding that hearing aids will help them hear and lead a better life. Because of the cost combined with a lack of insurance coverage, many are in search of the best or cheapest deal.
Purchasing hearing aids online may possibly save you a few hundred dollars up front, but keep in mind that you may be sacrificing listening experience, wearing satisfaction and yes, hearing safety. In fact, the money you saved by purchasing online will more than likely end up being spent (and then some) when you are in need of reprogramming and follow-up care from a hearing professional in order to get satisfaction from your aids.
Hearing Aid Manufacturers Caution
Many leading hearing aid manufacturers, including Oticon, do not sell their products to Internet retailers and have recently placed alerts on their websites warning consumers to purchase hearing aids directly and only from qualified, trained hearing professionals.
The words of caution are there to protect the consumer from purchasing hearing aids that may not be appropriate for their hearing loss and may not be the "real deal". One aspect of the hearing aid fitting process believed to be vital to a successful fitting is the role of a hearing care professional.
Why Purchasing Face-to-Face is Important
A successful fitting of hearing aids is dependent on many factors beyond simply buying the right hearing aids for you and your hearing loss. Some examples include:
- A hearing professional will evaluate your hearing loss through simple, painless testing - This is a critical aspect of any hearing aid purchase and unfortunately, when you buy hearing aids online, there's no professional there between you, the buyer, and your purchase. So, the chances are pretty good that you'll buy the wrong hearing aids for your needs and lifestyle.
- Hearing aids should be programmed by a hearing professional based on hearing loss and verification testing. A hearing test is the first step in choosing and programming hearing aids; however, hearing loss alone cannot predict accurate hearing aid settings. The hearing professional often performs additional subjective and objective testing to fine-tune the hearing aids.
- Properly fit hearing aids equal healthy hearing. When hearing aids are purchased online, safety can become a concern. How do you know how the hearing aids are programmed when they arrive in the mail? You don't. You will only know once you have turned them on and listen, putting your remaining hearing at risk.
- After-purchase care - Just like eyeglasses hearing aids often need adjusting through the years. A hearing aid professional is there to answer questions, make fine-tuning adjustments and monitor your hearing over the years. Expect to establish a long-term friendship with a good hearing aid professional. You'll be seeing each other regularly.
- Trial periods, returns and guarantees - Most hearing professionals offer a trial period on newly purchased hearing aids - which is often a requirement of the state in which you live. They were with you one-on-one throughout the trial period to ensure the hearing aids are the right fit for you. With an online retailer you just don't get that kind of follow-up service or guarantee.
Hearing aids are more than mere amplifiers. They are complex digital electronic devices that not only allow people with hearing loss to hear, they are giving back quality of life and happiness too many. This type of investment is worth purchasing face-to-face from a trained and qualified hearing professional.
Learn more by watching this video: Should I buy hearing aids online?
Visit a hearing center near you and discover what hearing aids can do for you.