The Pitfalls of “Locked Hearing Aids:” Doug’s Story

With hearing aid dealers popping up on nearly every corner, many patients (and their families) aren’t aware of the common pitfalls they can encounter when making their selection of hearing aid dealer or audiologist.

Doug, a Raleigh resident and patient of Now Hear This®, shares his story:

“I bought my first pair of hearing aids in 2007 from a Starkey dealer in Nashville, TN.   A few years later, my wife and I relocated to Raleigh to retire.  Soon after, I wasn’t hearing as well as I thought I should, so my physician referred me to Now Hear This®.  He had heard about their specialized equipment that could readjust existing hearing aids.  Unfortunately, when I went to Now Hear This® in April 2015, I discovered my hearing aids were locked by my previous provider, not allowing me to have them readjusted elsewhere.  How ludicrous! I should have a choice of where to have my hearing aids serviced.

Not knowing where to go, I went to another Starkey dealer to service my hearing aids.  Because she was not an audiologist, she didn’t have adequate training and never could adjust them just right.  However, since I had entered into a year-long contract, I kept making the inconvenient trip to have them serviced and cleaned.

When the year was finally up, I decided to pursue getting my hearing aids unlocked so I could go to Now Hear This®.  I called the dealer in Nashville where I purchased my aids for assistance but it took several calls before I heard back from them!  This wasted a lot of my time, and I felt like I got the run around before I was finally able to convince a Starkey representative to get in touch with Now Hear This® and give them a special code to unlock my hearing aids so they could be adjusted!!

While all of that was a hassle, I am pleased to report that Now Hear This® used its exclusive technology to fine-tune my hearing aids so they are at the peak of where they can go now.  They are not perfect, but so much better.  The service at Now Hear This® was excellent.  When I am ready to purchase new hearing aids, I will absolutely go back to a Raleigh audiologist at Now Hear This®.  They gave me a much more thorough hearing test than what I had ever experienced and explained everything in an understandable manner.  My advice to others is never to buy a locked hearing aid, and if you do, return to your dealer and demand they unlock them.”

NOTE: Doug’s experience is real and we are eager to share it because Now Hear This® routinely encounters patients not satisfied with their current hearing aids who later learn their hearing aids are locked.  While Doug was fortunate to get hearing aids unlocked, many others are not so lucky.   When hearing aids are NOT locked, our German-engineered Accufit® system allows our audiologists to fine-tune hearing aids in a unique manner. Accufit®, actually calculates how your brain perceives loudness so we can help you hear better and more comfortably in all environments, including noisy restaurants.  And the word is getting out…. Patients are telling their friends about us.  Primary Care Physicians are recommending patients to seek our hearing services.  We are thrilled to help each and every patient hear his or her best, but we feel bad when people tell us they bought locked hearing aids, and we are unable to help them unlock their hearing aids.   It is unfortunate but all too common.

It is critical that everyone spread the word that most national chains and large retailers lock their hearing devices so adjustments can only be performed at their locations. Most of the time, patients have no idea their hearing aid is locked until they seek another hearing aid provider or audiologist.

Furthermore, at national hearing aid chains you will often be served by hearing aid dealers, not doctors of audiology.  In the state of North Carolina, licensed hearing aid dealers typically only need a high school diploma and minimal on-the-job training to get a license, whereas audiologists have close to a decade of university medical training in all aspects of hearing health diagnostics and treatment.

Aside from physicians, audiologists are the only professionals with academic training and clinical expertise to diagnose both the type and extent of hearing loss while addressing other hearing health concerns. At Now Hear This®, we never lock hearing aids and we guarantee satisfaction with a money-back refund.  If you know someone making a choice of which hearing aid provider or audiologist to see, please encourage them to pursue treatment from a board certified audiologist and never purchase locked hearing aids.