At HearingDirect we send out a number of different parcels of varying sizes, shapes and weights. I call them parcels as I was raised in the era when anything that was larger than a letter going through the Royal Mail was wrapped in brown paper, tied with string and was universally known as a parcel. Those were the halcyon days when the post used to bring exciting and interesting things - letters in the days before email, postcards and eagerly awaited parcels. Nowadays the post seems to bring endless spam, incessant bills and nothing but misery.
Perhaps that is more a reflection of adulthood versus childhood but regardless, I now no longer look forward to the post and often need a glass of wine to steel myself to open it.
Back to HearingDirect. At work the post is a whole lot more complex as the Royal Mail does not divide the world into two simple areas of letters and parcels, there are now the following categories: Letters, Large Letters, and Packets. To add an intoxicating complexity there is an unclassified, classification of post that is none of those and has to be taken to the Post Office separately. Let's just call this big, heavy stuff. I do have a degree of sympathy with Royal Mail's struggle to label and categorise.
The world of audiology also struggles. We had a case recently of a lady who was ordering a headset to go with her mobile phone. She mentioned to Joan that she has hearing aids that cost her over £3000 from Siemens which she feels are coming to the end of their life. Hers were the thin tube behind the ear variety, did we sell similar hearing aids she enquired as an aside? Yes replied Joan, "Ours start with the HD210 at £219 and go up to the HD400 at £399"*. There was a stunned silence and once she had recovered her composure she asked are those real hearing aids?
Our hearing aids may be different in some ways, and certainly in price but rest assured that even with the most bizarre classification HearingDirect sells genuine hearing aids. Fully functioning, digital hearing aids. We may not have the Bluetooth bells & whistles, we may not provide a high street centre or a white-coated dispenser but our hearing aids stand up very well to comparison with their more expensive equivalents.
The problem is that some companies sell products that cost less than £20, but we would strongly argue that those should not be classified as hearing aids. The benefit that one could expect from these extremely cheap items is unlikely to leave one satisfied and most of these sales are simply part of a strategy to switch sell to a higher priced item. So there is not an easy answer to when is a hearing aid a hearing aid just like when does a letter become a large letter become a packet and so on ...
*prices correct at time of posting