You can buy (almost) anything online these days. Movies, books, car parts, clothes–even pantry staples like cereal, milk, and eggs. For some people, it’s easier to grocery shop on the web than it is to take their car to the nearest brick and mortar store. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that more and more people are purchasing their hearing aids online.
Which may initially sound like a good thing, right? People have more direct access to the hearing aids of their choice. The problem is that there are some significant drawbacks to shopping for hearing aids online. And if you aren’t even aware of those drawbacks, what looks like a good deal can quickly devolve into a bad situation.
What are bargain hearing aids?
It used to be that the only way to procure yourself a hearing aid was through what you might call “professional channels.” These days, there are more over-the-counter style options available. You can purchase so-called “hearing-amplification” devices from your local pharmacy (but be careful of using over-the-counter).
But you can also find proper hearing aids online. Whether through professional channels or resellers (you can find used hearing aids on eBay, for example), there’s no shortage of options. And the prices look very appealing.
So when you hop on the web and you get your used pair of bargain hearing aids for less than $50, it can feel like sweet, sweet victory. Until you actually pop the devices in your ears. That’s when your bargain hunting might come back to bite you.
Drawbacks of bargain shopping
There’s something exciting about getting a package in the mail. It’s like a little taste of the holidays, no matter what time of year it is! But there are a few reasons why this particular bargain package could become a little disappointing.
- They don’t work: When you purchase a pair of bargain hearing aids from eBay, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually work. Hearing aids are pretty sophisticated, and if the pair you bought were damaged in transit or even dropped by the previous owner, there may be damage. When you invest in a pair of hearing aids from a provider, not only will you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, they will typically fit, test, and service your hearing aid for you.
- You don’t know how to operate them: Modern hearing aids are technological marvels. But getting them to work properly can take some finesse. So without the right tutorial and training, you could struggle to get the most out of your bargain or used pair.
- The sound isn’t clear: Maybe the hearing aids work, and everything is louder, but nothing is clear. Somehow the sound is amplified but you can’t understand anything (we’ll talk about why that is in a bit).
- They’re uncomfortable: Once you get the hearing aids in, you notice that they’re too large or too small for your ears. Hearing aids that chafe or wiggle around are no fun.
The concern here is that if these hearing aids don’t help, you won’t wear them. If you don’t wear them and continue to ignore your hearing loss, your overall health will begin to be affected.
The best hearing aids are just for you
All of these drawbacks basically come down to this: the reason your bargain hearing aid is suboptimal is that it’s not set to your ear and your hearing loss. While there are some universals, everybody’s hearing loss is just a little bit different (it’s the wonderful diversity of the human condition).
When you go see a hearing specialist to find your perfect pair of hearing aids, you enjoy several benefits:
- Your hearing aid fit can be customized. Not only are your ears unique to you, but they are also somewhat different from each other. A unique fit for each ear will make your hearing aids more comfortable.
- Your hearing aids can be calibrated for your unique hearing loss. Whatever wavelength of sound you have trouble hearing can be boosted, so you find the perfect mix for your ears (without this calibration, voices may sound muffled or distorted).
- Most hearing specialists can do real ear measurement to make sure the hearing aid is delivering the sounds and you are able to hear them correctly.
- When you work with a hearing specialist, you gain a much more comprehensive understanding of how your hearing aids work–and how best to calibrate your devices for your specific needs.
Beware of cheap hearing aids…there’s a better option
Whatever money you spend on a “bargain” hearing aid will likely be money wasted–not money saved. Your best bet is to work with your hearing specialist to find the right solution for you. If budget is a concern, they will be able to recommend appropriate solutions for your level of hearing loss. Often they can help you choose affordable options or suggest ways to finance them.