Is it Safe to Buy Used Hearing Aids?
With hearing aids being so expensive, some people think that purchasing used hearing aids might help save some money. In some cases it absolutely will and is not a bad option at all. In other cases, it can be a disastrous decision. In this post I’ll attempt to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing used hearing aids. For starters, one might purchase used hearing aids from a friend or family member, or perhaps maybe even on eBay or Craigslist. If you do go this route, there are a few things you need to look out for. #1, you need to buy a kind that will actually work for your hearing loss. Hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all solution, each hearing aid is very unique (just like eyeglasses), so you need to ensure you are buying one that will work for your hearing loss, one that will fit your ear, and one that can be adjusted buy a local provider.
The best way to ensure that you are buying a hearing aid that will actually work for your loss is by doing a simple hearing test online, or at a local provider’s office (normally the test isn’t very expensive). If the results of the test show that you have a mild loss, you may do just fine with used hearing aids. However, if the results show that your loss is any worse than mild, (i.e, more than a 15% loss), proceed with great caution. Mild hearing losses are pretty easy to fit with open-fit hearing aids, but losses that are more severe need custom ear molds, and these can’t be purchased online.
So if you have a mild loss, you may be able to find some used open fit hearing aids online that will work for you. The next hurdle is making sure that the hearing aids are built by one of the major manufacturers- Phonak, Oticon, Siemens, ReSound, Starkey, Unitron, or Widex. These manufacturers have hundreds of distributors across the US that can adjust hearing aids for you, and that is critically important. If you buy used hearing aids and they are not one of those brand names, you are going to have a very difficult time finding someone to program the hearing aid for you, which brings us to the next topic. Once you’ve got the hearing aids (actually, before you even purchase them), you need to make sure that providers in your area will program them for you. Some providers will not program hearing aids that they did not personally sell, so tread carefully here and do your research. This may take quite a bit of calling around to get providers that will cooperate and find prices for their services. Expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$1,000 for 2-3 programming sessions- it is very expensive. In addition, the provider will probably insist that you do another hearing test in their office, unless you’ve had one professionally done within the past year.
So you can see, with the added costs of getting the hearing aids programmed, sometimes buying used hearing aids doesn’t really make sense financially, unless you got a really good deal on them. It can be a huge hassle to make it work, and typically, you’re only going to save a few hundred dollars when it’s all said and done. In addition, chances are that those used hearing aids don’t come with a warranty, and even if they do, the manufacturer may not even honor the warranty since the warranty was assigned to the individual who originally owned the aids. The bottom line is, if you’re willing to put in the work and do some research, there are savings to be had. If you do decide to go this route, I urge you- take your time. Tread carefully. The last thing you want to do is end up with a set of hearing aids with no warranty, that don’t work for you, that no one can program, and it is very likely that one of those problems (and potentially many more) will arise when trying to make used hearing aids work for you.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.