What Are Locked Hearing Aids & Why You Should Avoid Them
A consumer who has purchased a “locked” hearing aid means they can only have their hearing aid programmed, adjusted, or changed at those proprietary locations or offices. Proprietary companies that “lock” their hearing aids such as Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand, Miracle-Ear, Beltone, Audigy, Nu Ear, Ear Q, and Amplifon (just to name a few) have grown in numbers in the last decade, becoming a severe consumer protection issue.
Along with many audiologists across California, The Hearing Solution is passionately against locked hearing aids. We do not sell them, and when a patient from another clinic comes to us seeking help, our hands are tied because we are not able to change their program settings.
Are Consumers Blind-Sided With Locked Hearing Aids?
Unfortunately, most patients who purchase a locked hearing aid were never told what a “locked hearing aid” is and what it could mean for you if you purchase them. Here are a few ways consumers are blind sided with the frustrating results of locked hearing aids:
If you relocate or move from the area of the original provider where you purchased the devices, and the franchise/proprietary office is no longer accessible to you, you cannot receive help from any other provider. Any other audiologist or hearing healthcare provider cannot reprogram, adjust or change any settings to your locked hearing device.
Original Improper Fitting
Audiologists often see patients who have left their original provider in order to seek a second opinion, often because the devices were improperly fitted in the first place. If you wish to have a second opinion regarding your hearing aids, this would not be possible if you already purchased locked hearing aids.
In order for a hearing aid wearer to have a good outcome with their purchase, proper fitting and testing needs to occur, which is not always the case. Audiologists will often see frustrated patients who have spent upwards of $8k on a set of hearing aids that isn’t providing the patient with adequate benefit. Despite the patient’s request for programming services, the provider is unable to help them in any way.
Proprietary Office Goes Out of Business
When a proprietary office has gone out of business, it leaves hundreds of patients stranded with hearing devices that cannot be adjusted or programmed by any other provider near them. Most of the time, requiring the patient to purchase brand new hearing aids.
The Good News…
The California Academy of Audiology, representing the state’s licensed audiologists, supports the Locked Hearing Aids bill that was proposed to Legislation. We have long believed that this problem is a consumer protection issue in need of change.
Over the year, this bill passed through both parties unanimously and was signed into law in September 2021.
Dr. McWilliams is the legislative liaison for the California Academy of Audiology and has helped push this bill through the legislature to where it is today. If you or someone you know purchases a locked hearing aid, they will now need to initial acknowledgement that they are purchasing a locked hearing aid.
Frustrated With Your Hearing Aids?
To see if The Hearing Solution is able to help you, please call our office at (916) 646-2471.
Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.Contact Us Now