(Last updated Jul 11, 2019)

The Truth About Hearing Aid Advertising


Do you constantly see full page ads in your local newspapers for hearing aids? Or maybe your local radio station plays that same 15 second hearing aid ad every hour on the hour. Or perhaps you’ve just entered the golden years and are now being inundated with direct mail hearing aid advertisements.

No matter the medium, the message is often the same- “Call now for an exclusive opportunity to buy or try hearing aids at prices you can’t afford to pass up!”

While most of these hearing aid companies have honorable intentions, their advertisements can sometimes fall short of being 100% truthful, and are at times downright dishonest. The problem has become so pervasive that many state licensing boards have enacted strict advertising guidelines for hearing aid retailers.

In this post we’ll explain the top 3 most misleading hearing aid advertising messages you may come across.

Message #1: Participants Needed for an Exclusive Study!

In this ad, a local hearing center will claim to be looking for a set number of candidates who may be eligible to participate in an exclusive hearing aid study. At the end of the “study,” if you like the hearing aids you tried, you’ll be able to purchase them at a deeply discounted price as a result of your participation in the study. The reality is these studies are almost never legitimate and are just a ploy to get unsuspecting hearing aid candidates to try hearing aids that they then don’t want to have to turn in at the end of the study. In addition, the savings available at the end of the study are usually note remarkable, and may be at or slightly below the center’s usual retail price for the hearing aids.

Message #2: Buy One Get One, or 50% Off for a Limited Time!

This may at times be a legitimate offer, but it’s not likely. If a hearing center offered true buy one get one deals or really gave 50% off their usual prices, they would not be in business long. Might you really get a buy one get one deal? Sure! But you’re probably going to be paying an inflated price for the first one, which really covers the cost of both hearing aids. You might also see enticing offers which promise 50% off for a limited time. In reality, this is also likely 50% off an inflated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), and not 50% off the usual sales price- as that wouldn’t even cover the cost of doing business for most hearing providers.

Message #3: Receive up to 100% Trade in Value or up to $1500 Off!

There may also be some legitimacy to this offer, but not to the extent that a consumer might expect. Let’s say you bought a pair of hearing aids a few years ago for $5,000. You might suspect that those hearing aids would hold their value, and that you might get several thousand dollars in trade in credit, allowing you to upgrade to a new set of hearing aids for a much lower price than purchasing new aids outright. This is unfortunately not the case.

What most first time hearing aid users don’t realize is that there is not really a second-hand market for hearing aids, and that hearing aids have little trade in value. If a hearing provider is going to accept a trade in, it is likely they are then sending the hearing aid to a company that will strip the hearing aid for parts and pay the hearing provider at most probably $200. In this case, you may really be credited a few hundred dollars off your purchase- but it would be incredibly rare to really get up to $1500 off the usual sales price of the hearing aid. Again, what is more likely is that any discount you receive is being applied to an inflated sales price.

Finally, trading in an old set of hearing aids is not usually a good idea, as you’d want to keep them as a backup set for emergencies when your newer hearing aids are not working or are in the repair lab.


Final thoughts

As a rule of thumb, steer clear of advertisements that create a sense of urgency to purchase to ensure big savings, or high pressure hearing providers who just want to close the deal. Establishments using these sorts of tactics are often going to be more interested in the sale than the follow-up care and your long-term success with hearing aids.

Have you seen a misleading hearing aid advertisement or been given a sales pitch that didn’t sound right?

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