by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
When you look at the statistics on how many hearing aids that are sold are returned for a refund, you quickly realize that something is wrong.
Here’s the statistics. In the first three quarters of 2011 13.5% of all traditional BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aids that used No. 10 batteries came back. This figure jumped to 22.7% for traditional BTE hearing aids that used No. 675 batteries. And surprisingly, 22.6% of the CIC (completely-in-canal) hearing aids came back. (1)
Thus approximately one in five hearing aids that are sold are being returned by unhappy users. Why?
Here are five reasons.
- People are not getting the right hearing aids for their hearing losses. (Hint: The proper reason to buy a given hearing aid is because it helps you hear better—not because it is invisible!)
- The hearing aids people buy are not being fitted properly to their hearing losses. (People’s hearing losses are unique and seldom fit the manufacturer’s fitting algorithm without some “artistic” tweaking. In truth, fitting hearing aids is an art as well as a science.)
- The perceived value of their “improved” hearing via hearing aids is not commensurate with the big bucks people shelled out for those aids. (As many lament, “I still can’t hear in noise—and for this I shelled out the big bucks? It’s just not worth it.)
- People buy hearing aids based on all the manufacturer’s hype that they will hear well again—and are sorely disappointed when they realize they don’t work well in noise or at a distance. (In spite of all the hype, changes in hearing aids have been incremental—a bit at a time. They are not “revolutionary”, nor are “big breakthroughs” happening all the time. Let’s have realistic advertising!)
- People are told hearing aids are the answer to all their hearing problems. (Just not true—especially for people with more severe losses. Equally as important as wearing hearing aids are 3 other things—using assistive listening devices when appropriate, speechreading and practicing good hearing loss coping strategies.)
(1) Pallarito, Karen. Consumer Skittishness Turns Hearing Aid Sales Sluggish. The Hearing Journal. Volume 64, Number 12, December 2011. p. 32.