I had two interesting conversations with customers in the last few days which started me thinking about the variety of consultation approaches adopted by private hearing aid dispensers in the UK. Whilst there can be no doubt that there are some excellent dispensers providing good independent advice there are also some that seem to abuse the privileged status afforded them. The hard of hearing population rely on the advice provided by audiological experts in their field to help them come to terms with the hearing loss they may have and guidance as to what help is available.
It is sad to note, however, that when providing that advice I heard one account from a customer who had been informed that the hearing aids provided by the NHS were categorically poorer in technology than those available through the high street and another who had responded to an advert offering hearing aids from £149 only to be told that these too were infinitely inferior to 'proper' hearing aids offered by the same retailer.
Two thoughts occur; firstly, in our opinion, the NHS does an outstanding job in providing digital hearing aids free of charge to those who most need them especially when faced with ever growing pressure on the public purse. Secondly, why would a reputable high street brand advertise hearing aids from £149 only to have their audiological experts decry the very same? Perhaps, dare I say, to encourage someone to spend considerably more than the amount they had been enticed and tempted to come into the shop to spend initially; I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions.
In part, stories like these helped form the philosophy behind the launch of HearingDirect which was established to provide quality digital hearing aids at fair prices without the pressure of a sales environment. For us, it is about providing choice, you can visit a professional dispenser that provides good independent advice, utilise an NHS service that remains the envy of many countries across the globe or enjoy the convenience of home delivery and a pressure free selection online.
The service and help we provide is not designed to replace the other choices, rather to add to them; people should be able to choose how and when they want to access hearing help. We simply provide an alternative that has not previously been available, namely an opportunity to try digital hearing aids in the comfort of your own home, delivered to your door and then a full 30 days to evaluate their benefit with the option to return them free of charge for a full refund if not completely satisfied. Not surprisingly, this is proving an ever more popular alternative for many; especially given we have a professional dispenser that provides good independent advice too! In conclusion, I do believe the cases highlighted are not common place but I do hear enough of them to offer these words of caution: do think carefully before choosing how and with whom you obtain hearing help and advice and when you do, be mindful of the potential motivations of those providing it.