Due to recent technological developments, the availability of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids has become pretty widespread across the country. This availability may cause you to consider purchasing your hearing aids online. After all, two-day shipping for all sorts of products has become popular and fairly reliable. Although online shopping may seem to make picking out and buying hearing aids quicker and easier, you might want to reconsider. The accessibility of OTC hearing aids online comes with a significant risk of typical consumers being tricked into buying low-quality products in place of high-quality hearing aids or being completely scammed.
One organization, Consumer Affairs, first published an article on this issue to warn the public about the increasing issue of OTC hearing aid scams. Amazon, for example, served as the scene where many companies would falsely advertise their low-quality hearing aid look-alikes for the high-quality products. After Consumer Affairs published this article, Amazon responded by claiming to take more steps to ensure that companies selling on their site follow medical device guidelines.
Though you might be wary about searching for good hearing aids online after learning this, the problem of hearing aid scams was prevalent even before the FDA approved OTC hearing aids. A lawsuit filed in the state of Vermont against Nano Hearing Aids shows how the company was potentially misleading its buyers with several different tactics.
With all this said, there are a handful of ways you can avoid becoming victimized by OTC hearing aid scammers. Some of these strategies are common sense like being aware of typical signs of fraud. Examples of these signs are extremely unrealistic discounts on products and guarantees that they will miraculously fix your hearing loss. Below is a list of six other questions to consider when you are looking online for your new OTC hearing aids.
1. Is it possible to change the sound settings beyond the volume?
When purchasing OTC hearing aids, it is best to buy one that has customizable settings. You should be able to make a plethora of adjustments to the device based on your personal hearing loss and subsequent needs. Hearing aids that are fitted by a hearing care specialist ought to already have the settings handled to offer you the most optimal hearing experience while using them. Because OTC ones are not professionally fitted, you have to accomplish this task by yourself. This is certainly doable based on your degree of hearing loss and executive functioning. You might need to connect a phone or tablet to accurately assess your degree of hearing loss at home before adjusting the OTC hearing aid settings.
You probably want to avoid purchasing a device that can only change the settings through the use of a volume switch. Also, be aware of scams when sellers disclose vague information about the hearing aid adjustments possible with their product. These two tips can help you be sure that you are buying a reputable hearing aid instead of a simple hearing amplifier.
One of the best ways you can further explore whether or not a product is a hearing amplifier is by looking at the company’s website and product manual. A few things to look for are if there is a way to connect the product to a smartphone, if the website explains how this works, and if the company offers customer support in the case that you are having trouble setting up your device.
2. Does the advertised pricing make sense?
Be cautious about the quality of a hearing aid device if a seller advertises a price that is significantly lower than most hearing aids on the market. As emphasized above, low-quality hearing aids purchased at very cheap prices are commonly just hearing amplifiers that do not provide the benefits of customizable amplification.
3. Is the company making over-the-top claims?
Be careful when companies offer you miracle cures or quick fixes for your hearing loss if you use their devices. This often indicates that something fishy is going on, and their products may not be high-quality.
Also, look out for companies that advertise their product with a long list of features that do not accurately match up with the features guaranteed in their devices’ fine print. This is a commonly used marketing tool that some companies use to reel you in and purchase their products without an adequate amount of dedicated research.
4. Does the brand have a high reputation?
By picking a company that is well-established, like Oticon, when deciding what kind of hearing aid device to buy, you can typically avoid all the pitfalls that come with searching for adequate OTC hearing aids online. This safe option will allow you to quickly find a product that others have reviewed and vetted thoroughly. There are a good amount of companies that have been producing hearing aid devices for years that are rated highly by customers. Besides looking at customer ratings, you should also check that the products you are considering are FDA approved.
5. Is there a reasonable return policy and/or trial period?
Always make sure there is an adequate return policy before you purchase your OTC hearing aid online. If there is not a reasonable time frame for returning the product, you might discover too late that your product does not work well for your needs and be hundreds of dollars down the
drain. Trial periods offered by companies are also a great way for you to test out their products before committing to purchasing them if you are still on the fence.
6. Does the company include a warranty for the product?
There should always be a warranty included in the price bundle of your hearing aid if you are buying from a reputable source like a hearing aid clinic or audiologist’s office. When purchasing from these groups, there is often an option for warranty extension as well. This alone may prompt you to purchase professionally fitted hearing aids rather than OTC ones online. Professional hearing aid services also often include quick repairs and custom settings for certain sound environments.
OTC hearing aids purchased online can still be a great option for you if you do your homework and find which ones work best. However, their warranties are often shorter and include less coverage than the warranties of professionally fitted hearing aids. Watch out for companies that offer no warranties at all. This is certainly a red flag.
Final words about OTC hearing aids purchased online
Even after reading this article and learning some tips on how to avoid OTC hearing aid scams online, you might still be a little shaky about which brand to purchase from. In this case, it is a good idea to talk to your hearing care provider for advice. With the results of a comprehensive hearing evaluation, your provider can then suggest which kind of hearing aid would be best for your particular scenario.
Whether you are considering professionally fitted hearing aids or OTC hearing aids, you are making an important step forward in taking care of your overall health. Experts claim that individuals who use hearing aids have a significant decline in depression, perceived loneliness, and falls. They also have lower rates of cognitive decline. Take care of your hearing health to improve your overall health.