It recently came to our attention that brand new top of the range hearing aids were being sold on ebay at what was being called wholesale prices in the UK. We were a little surprised by it. A reader asked us what we thought about it and the possible value it represented. So we thought we would write an article about it.
Online Sales of Hearing Aids
Firstly, we don't think online sales of hearing aids are a bad thing when there is an infrastructure set up to cater for it. By that we mean that the online sales are supported by a testing and fitting infrastructure either online or offline. For instance, Blamey and Saunders in Australia deliver a system we would support as does iHear and Eargo in the US.
The system that our reader brought to our attention doesn't seem to have any of those things. It is simply selling hearing aids unprogrammed and sending them out with the advice to look for a local hearing healthcare provider to test your hearing and fit them. While the listing below is for a set of Phonak hearing aids, they also advertise Widex and GN Resound hearing aids.
At the bottom of the description it gives a link to the manufacturers Find a Professional Page. I doubt very much if the manufacturer is very happy about that and I know the Professionals won't be
At the bottom of the description on the page it says "To get the best experience it is recommended to have the hearing aid properly tuned by a qualifed audiologist. To find an approved Phonak partner please check the Phonak.com website (local fees for hearing aid tuning services may apply. These will vary from clinic to clinic. Typical guideline costs are £80 for hearing tests, and £150 for hearing aid programming)".
It also includes a link to the Manufacturer's Find A Professional Page. I would imagine that neither the Manufacturer or Professionals are exceptionally happy about that. In fact I would imagine many are spitting blood.
What Do We Think?
So, back to the question that started it all, what do we think? We think this could be a bad idea for you, for several reasons. Firstly, I think most hearing healthcare professionals initial reaction will probably be negative. In fact I think they may rather set fire to their hair than fit these for you although I may be wrong. Even if you find a hearing professional who is willing to test your hearing and fit these aids for you for £230 quid, what are you going to do about aftercare?
More Than Just Fitting Involved
You will need aftercare and Professionals won't be willing to see you without payment, in the short term you will need a couple of visits to get everything right. Just how much is that going to cost? In the long term you will need at the very least yearly follow ups, again how much will that cost?
On the advert it says that there is a free five year warranty included, again though, who is going to service that warranty? I think anyone but the Vendor will probably charge you for handling them. I don't know what that charge would be, but I know I would charge you. So if you don't want to pay a handling fee, the hearing aids will have to go back to the vendor on ebay to be repaired. You need to consider many thing here, balance them up and then make a decision. Here are the things you need to consider.
- Will someone fit them for you?
- How much will the hearing test and fitting cost?
- How much will it cost for aftercare visits? (you are going to need them)
- How much will it cost for repairs to be handled?
- Will the extra costs mean a net saving or loss for you?
Listen, we aren't telling you this isn't a good deal and we most definitely aren't telling you not to do it. What we are telling you is that you need to carefully consider all of the parameters involved here. I personally think that you should discuss it with a health professional before you do it. You need to know that someone will actually take care of you, otherwise you will be left with some very expensive ornaments. We will keep you updated on the reaction to all of this and we would welcome your comments at info@hearingaidknow.
You can see our definitive advice on buying hearing aids online here Buying Hearing Aids Online - Buying Hearing Aids Online? Here is What You Need To Know