Calling all clients - educate your friends - By Maria Brown
Our major issue in our industry is companies selling hearing aids. What happens is the education is slipping and people are confused. Do I buy those cheap hearing aids? Why wouldn’t I? Isn’t it all about cheap? Why do I need a specialist when I can buy hearing aids online?
Every medical company wants you to pay after that initial fitting process. It's about the life of client association and what can we charge after the fact. This is why for 19 years we have had a fully inclusive package that does not charge after the fitting for consultations, batteries, domes wax stoppers, hearing tests. It is all inclusive and these extras cost thousands over the lifetime of the hearing aids. Most hearing aids last about 7 years. If you have to pay for all of that time everything that the company does for you it adds up very quickly.
Buying hearing aids online is also an issue from the point of view that if you have any problems where do you go to get your money back? I have had people come to me begging for help, but I can’t help them get money back from a company that does not have a physical outlet for us to demand that they do the right thing by you. Same as buying hearing aids from overseas. How do you go there to make them pay you back. The same issue is emerging from Ebay. You have warranties and no one is listening anymore.
It is now buyer beware.
Anyone including my clients know that we don’t sell hearing aids we educate. People need hearing aids, but I am very clear that you need to understand what is happening with your hearing and what you need to do about it.
5 important points to tell your friends:
- Thorough diagnostic assessment is necessary. A 10-minute appointment, or a free online hearing test will not provide you with the adequate amount of time or information to help you make good choices for your hearing.
- Do your research. Every hearing clinic has their pitch, some in fact are owned by the companies who make the hearing aids. Make sure you do your own reading and draw your own conclusions.
- Have a free trial. This is essential. One of the very worst mistakes you can make with hearing aids is to buy before you try. Remember, if you get this wrong, it is a decision you are stuck with for up to 7 years. Tread with caution. A free trial is the best way.
- Have your provider clearly lay out all the work and associated costs that will be incurred over the lifetime of the product. What many people don't realise is that saving a few hundred dollars at the start very often ends up costing you thousands more in running costs. Do the numbers. We have also heard stories from clients explaining that after they are fit, they have trouble getting follow up appointments full stop. Get your inclusions and costs in writing!
- Find someone you can trust. For many, your hearing specialist is someone you can spend 20+ years with. Do they take the time to explain everything clearly? Are they protecting you from failure? Do you feel like they are your partner in solving your hearing issue or a salesman?
Educate your friends
Would you buy a car off the internet that you have never seen?
Would buy the cheapest hearing aids that you can get without the support and care of having a service centre just up the road?
Would you buy hearing aids from America if you knew that when they breakdown they have to be sent back to America to be serviced and repaired taking weeks with no assurances that the person even existed in the first place?
I had a client that come to see me with 2 hearing aids from America. He bought them at a ridiculous price that I was shocked at. He was told they were brand new. I got the serial numbers and asked the manufacturer to assess this as I was truly shocked at the prices. The manager come back to me and confirmed what I had believed. They were second hand.
The gentleman was very upset and went back to the seller to demand his money back and get satisfaction and she blocked him and wouldn’t answer any of his emails. This is a common story of online sales that we are finding happening everywhere. If its too good to be true then usually it is. I understand that the price of hearing aids is a cost that many struggle with. This is also predicted by the licensing agreement of the manufacturers in this country. All the companies have licensing agreements and they are bound by the country they are in and the medical associations that control those companies. So when you buy from America they can’t service of fix those hearing aids as they are licensed to America.
Don't become just another bad story about hearing aids.
P.S. Please feel free to share this advice with anyone you might know who suffers from hearing loss!