Recently Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert on hearing aids sold online or over the counter.
This warning is overdue!
Over the past year, I have seen dozens of patients come in frustrated and disappointed with products they purchased online. The advertisements look enticing promising great performance at a fraction of the price.
The online reviews look fantastic.
The reality is often; these reviews are fake. The quality and effectiveness of these products are questionable.
Many of my patients attempted to return their online purchases only to find out phone numbers were disconnected, or no one would answer the phone.
The statement from Attorney General Rob Bonta reads:
“Healthcare costs can add up, which is why many of us seek out more affordable options that make sense for our families. While hearing aids sold online or over-the-counter may appear to be more cost-effective than traditional hearing aids, they may not properly address your particular hearing loss needs or maybe outright scams. As you explore your options, know your rights, beware of false claims, and exercise caution if you choose to purchase from an unlicensed seller.”
The statement made three recommendations to anybody who is considering purchasing online/over-the-counter hearing aids.
#1 – Get Checked By A Licensed Hearing Professional
A variety of factors may cause hearing loss – from simple ear wax build-up to more severe complications.
While online or app-based hearing tests may be convenient, they may fail to detect individualized or serious hearing loss issues.
If you need a hearing aid, a licensed hearing professional, who is authorized to test your hearing, can prescribe one that is individualized to your needs or refer you to someone who can, including a licensed seller of over-the-counter devices.
You should be aware that some over-the-counter devices are limited in their ability to fine-tune adjustments to your specific needs.
#2 – Beware Of Misleading Claims
Over-the-counter hearing aids are meant to treat mild to moderate hearing loss and may not treat severe hearing loss. In addition, hearing aids advertised as “FDA registered” are not necessarily “FDA approved.”
“FDA registered” merely means the company has registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and does not mean that the FDA has reviewed or approved a specific product.
The FDA recently issued cease and desist notices to companies advertising their products as “FDA registered.”
#3 – Know Your Rights
If you are unhappy with your hearing aids, California law (Civil Code section 1793.02) allows you to return them within 45 days of receipt for a full refund or exchange without any additional fees.
The seller must provide you with a written statement with this information and the expiration date for the return period. If a seller offers a longer return period, they must honor it.
Do You Have a Question or Need Advice?
If you have a question about online hearing aids or over-the-counter devices, we would be delighted to discuss them with you and help you ensure that you make the right decision.
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