Should I Buy Hearing Aids Online?
Update 2/15/16: See this infographic- Myths About Buying Hearing Aids Online. It’s a legitimate question you might ask yourself as you consider dealing with your hearing loss. In this post I’ll attempt to weigh the pros and cons of buying hearing aids online, so you can come to your own informed decision. First of all, most hearing aids sold online are “open-fit” hearing aids, so you might want to read that post first to learn more about them.
If you’re like most people, the decision to purchase a hearing aid online comes down to one thing more than anything else- cost savings. It’s true. Upfront, there are some cost savings involved when you purchase hearing aids online.
For instance, one of the major online hearing aid stores is currently offering (2) Siemens Pure 501 open-fit hearing aids, for a total of $3,100. That’s probably around $1,000 less than your local hearing provider is asking for them. This includes free programming of the hearing aids for life (minus shipping costs), and a 45 day trial period, in which you can return the aids for a full refund if not satisfied. Of course, there are dozens of cheaper aids available online, but I’ll assume you want hearing aids that are built by one of the major, well-respected manufacturers.
Following that web site’s instructions, the first step to purchase these hearing aids is to get a hearing test performed and purchase a copy of the results, which will usually cost around $150. Then, you’ll submit your results to the online hearing aid company, so they can remotely program your hearing aids for you before shipping them out. In a few days, your hearing aids arrive on your doorstep, all ready to go! So you try the aids out for a few days and love them, but they don’t quite fit right. So you package them up and send them back to the company to be re-sized. Of course, you have to insure the package, and they are going cross country, so this is going to be about a $40 cost, but the price will vary.
You get the hearing aids back, they fit much better, but now they don’t sound quite right, so you package them up and send them off again. And the cycle continues. Suddenly, you are nearing the end of your trial period and it seems like you’ve only worn the hearing aids for a few days altogether, because they spent most of their time in transit.
At this point, you may reason that although the hearing aids aren’t perfect, the $1,000 in cost savings makes it worth it to keep these aids. So you decide to keep them, and get along with them quite well- until they quit working. One of them falls in to the sink and gets wet, the other one just isn’t sounding right. So back to the lab again they go. And so it goes- more shipping fees, more waiting, and more time without your hearing aids.
As you can see, going this route to purchase your hearing aids takes quite a bit of patience, and there is definitely a lot of hassle involved. You may be wondering if all this extra hassle is worth it to save $1,000, and if that $1,000 will even be saved in the long run.
Now let’s assume that those same hearing instruments were purchased from a local hearing provider. First of all, they are going to be more expensive. These same hearing aids will cost probably around $4,100 from a local provider.
Since these hearing aids are open-fit (they don’t require a custom ear mold), they can be fit immediately after your hearing test. They are properly sized and programmed while you are wearing them. This allows you to give feedback to your hearing provider about the sound quality, and hear instant changes as the adjustments are made (in person as opposed to remotely). At the end of your first appointment, you’ve accomplished more than you had in your entire 45 day trial period with the hearing aids bought online, and for a number of reasons.
First, you can be sure the hearing aids are fitting properly. Secondly, you know the aids are adjusted right, since they weren’t done “remotely”, and they are adjusted per your individual needs. Third, certain features of the hearing aids are going to be activated now which could not have been done remotely, such as feedback cancellation so you can be sure the aids never whistle.
Any time the aids don’t sound right, you’re able to go in to the office for a quick adjustment, and are in and out of there in 15 minutes. There are no packages to be sent or forms to fill out, and most importantly, you won’t have to go 2 weeks without your hearing aids. In addition, you don’t have all recurring costs associated with shipping your hearing instruments.
As you can see, purchasing hearing aids from a local provider is a more efficient, more results-oriented, and when the cost savings and hassle-free(ness?) is factored in, a more affordable way to buy hearing aids.
Hearing instruments are a hugely important investment, and they have the potential to make your life much better. You may be one of the few that ends up saving money by purchasing hearing aids online, but at what cost? If it means your hearing aids won’t work the right way, they won’t be completely customized, and you won’t have quick local service if something goes wrong, is it really worth it?
As an alternative, you might consider getting the best of both worlds- low internet pricing on hearing aids and local service. When you buy hearing aids from your local ZipHearing provider, you get just that. See how our program works.
It’s definitely something to think about.
If you or a loved one would like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.