What to ask your audiologist

An important part of successful hearing aid use is finding a hearing aid dispenser who not only provides the right hearing aids, but offers a variety of services that provide for your total hearing health care. These questions may help you find a dispenser who will best meet your needs.

How Many Different Brands and Types of Hearing Aids Do You Sell?
A dispenser should have several different brands and types of hearing aids to choose from. No single brand or type of aid amplifies sound adequately for every hearing loss. Hearing aids differ in their type of sound processing; their available features, and in style. The most common styles include: behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids. Each style allows for different amounts of amplification and adjustability according to its size. For example, because an ITC hearing aid is very small, it is less adjustable and provides only enough amplification for milder hearing losses.

What Do You Charge for Various Types of Hearing Aids? What is Included in the Cost of The Hearing Aid? Do You Offer Any Payment Plans?
In general the cost of a hearing aid depends on the sophistication and capability of the hearing aid circuitry, and its size-the smaller the hearing aid, the more it costs. The most expensive aids are digital and can cost over R20000 for one aid. More basic ITE and BTE hearing aids cost from R4500. Usually, the cost of selecting and fitting is included in the price of a hearing aid. The cost of this testing may not be refundable if hearing aids are returned (See below).

Do You Offer a Trial Period During Which the Hearing Aid is Returnable if the Patient is Not Satisfied? If So, How Long is the Trial Period? How Much of the Cost of the Hearing Aid is Not Refunded if it is Returned?
All dispensers should offer a trial period during which the hearing aid is returnable. The trial period is usually 30 days long, but sometimes a longer trial can be arranged if it is needed. Some dispensers require a deposit or payment prior to the trial period. If the hearing aid is returned, many hearing aid dispensers will charge a nonrefundable “restocking fee.” This nonrefundable fee could be as little as R 450 or as much as R 4500, depending on the dispenser. The cost of the hearing aid itself should be refundable during the trial period. However, the cost of the initial testing involved in selecting, fitting and adjusting the hearing aid is usually not refundable.

What Kind of Warranty Comes With the Hearing Aid(s)?
Warranties vary by hearing aid manufacturer. Some companies give a year free repair or replacement only on defective parts or workmanship. Other manufacturers also include a 1-year loss and damage warranty. Under this type of warranty the company will replace or repair a hearing aid that has been lost or damaged for any reason once during the coverage period. Extended warranties are also available for an additional charge. If your hearing aid’s manufacturer does not provide for loss and damage in the warranty, you may be able to buy hearing aid insurance.

After the Warranty Ends, What is The Minimum Charge for a Repair?
After the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, repair charges are the responsibility of the hearing aid owner. For most hearing aid repairs there is a standard charge that covers repair on the circuitry or electrical components. A warranty should be offered on any repairs that are made.

Do You Service the Hearing Aids You Sell? What In-House Repairs Do You Offer? Do You Offer a Loaner Hearing Aid if Mine is in for Repair?
Most dispensers have the ability to provide some in-house repairs. The repairs they cannot do themselves can be sent to the manufacturer or a company that repairs hearing aids. Some dispensers have a stock of used hearing aids from which they can choose a loaner hearing aid for you while yours is being repaired. The loaner hearing aid probably will not be the same make and model as your hearing aid.

What Information and Instruction is Provided When I First Receive the Hearing Aid?
During a fitting and orientation appointment the hearing aid user and family should receive information about the use and care of hearing aids. The hearing aid user should receive instruction and practice putting on and taking off the hearing aid, adjusting the volume control, and inserting and removing the battery. The hearing aid dispenser should perform a variety of tests with the hearing aid fitted on the user’s ear to determine appropriate settings. There are techniques which make communication easier, such as using visual information and arranging the listening environment to receive a better signal. These should be reviewed. The use of assistive devices may be discussed or demonstrated as well.

Do You Sell Any Assistive Devices? Will This Hearing Aid Be Compatible With Them?
Most hearing aid dispensers can obtain a variety of assistive devices if a client needs them. These may include amplifiers or transmitters for the telephone, television or group listening situations, as well as signaling devices for use in the home. Many assistive devices and telephones are designed to be compatible with hearing aids which are equipped with a telecoil or “T” switch. When activated, a telecoil picks up electromagnetic signals coming from a hearing aid-compatible telephone or assistive device. The signal carries the sound information coming from the device to an individual’s hearing aid. Before ordering a hearing aid it is important that the dispenser and hearing aid user decide if a “T” switch will be needed