Buying Hearing Aids Online
|Written by Ken Teegardin|
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver
Do you have trouble hearing the table conversation in a crowded restaurant? Do your phone conservations often have, “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” When your kids come over do they say, “Your TV sure is loud?”
With a hearing aid, you can make senior living simpler for yourself and those around you. Consider buying hearing aids online. It’s easier than you think and could save you hundreds dollars.
Before you start shopping, let’s look at some things you should know.
Before you can buy a hearing aid online, you’ll need a hearing test with a professional audiologist. The audiologist tests your hearing at different frequencies. You’ll be tested to see what the softest sound you can hear at each frequency is.
Your audiologist can then make recommendations about size, brand, and comfort. For example, do you want a device that is small and discreet? While nice, they are harder to adjust and easier to lose. This information will be helpful when shopping online for hearing aids.
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Your hearing test results will show up as an audiogram. This is a chart showing different frequencies (high and low pitches) and intensity (quiet and loud). Your hearing range will be graphed compared to “normal” hearing like the below example.
This audiogram is needed before you can buy a hearing aid online. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says you must provide the hearing aid seller a doctor-signed statement that you had the hearing test within the last six months.
Shopping Online: What to Look for
Like any product on the web, there are hundreds of hearing aid sellers out there—some good, some not so good. First, check to see if the company is a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau.
Here are some specific considerations when buying hearing aids online.
Trial Periods. Most states require a trial period of 30 to 60 days. During this period, wear the hearing aid to see if it’s comfortable and effective.
Ask about their refund policy. Ask about return fees—some may charge a 10% restocking fee. Don’t buy a hearing aid online until you know their trial period policy. Get it in writing (email) if it’s not on their website.
Hearing Aid Warranty. Ask how long their warranty is and what’s included such as repairs and loss. Ask what the common repairs are and how much they cost to fix.
Is this company authorized to sell this particular brand? If not, the hearing aid vendor may not honor the warranty.
If you need to send it back, how long will the repair take? Ideally, it shouldn’t be longer than a week. Do they offer “loaner” hearing aids to use while yours is being repaired?
Get their warranty in writing.
Other Considerations. Ask about programming costs. Will they provide a set number of adjustments before charging you?
Can you program your hearing aid online? Or will you have to take it somewhere?
Fitting the Hearing Aid
If you buy a hearing aid that needs to be fitted, the company will either send you an ear impression kit that you can do at home. Or they will recommend you go to an audiologist for the impression. This costs about $75.
You’ll then send the impression back to the company who will fit your hearing aid to your specs.
Be engaged in conversations again. Hear your grandkids’ questions. Feel comfortable talking on the phone. Senior living can be all these things with a hearing aid. And buying a hearing aid online can save you 10% to 15%, translating into $300 to $500. If you know what to look for before you shop, the experience can be easy.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the online company. Get all of your questions answered to your satisfaction. And be sure to get everything in writing.
If the thought of wearing a hearing aid still makes you uncomfortable, read "New Advances in Digital Hearing Aids".
Updated: Mar 23, 2011