I am happy to report that Attorney General Rob Bonta has recently cautioned citizens who choose to purchase their hearing devices either over the counter or online.
This is a huge step in the right direction and an essential message.
I have seen many patients come in over the past few years with all sorts of issues concerning their OTC devices.
While the intentions of OTCs are good, their effectiveness and ability to improve your hearing are limited at best.
OTCs simply do not have the technology to greatly improve your hearing and, in some cases, can make it worse.
Not all the good reviews you read online are 100% truthful, and at the end of the day, their mission is to sell products.
“…exercise caution if you choose to purchase from an unlicensed seller.”
One of the main differences is the lack of support patients receive after they buy their OTC.
Most of these companies are third-party or even fourth-party distributors and offer no guidance when adjusting settings or fitting them properly.
I’ve heard some nightmare stories from patients who have tried to troubleshoot themselves. But, unfortunately, there is nowhere to take your OTC. You can only access assistance over the phone, and that’s assuming you can get through. Sometimes, the company folds, and you’re left with nothing more than a paperweight.
Other states have issued the same warning to try and encourage their citizens to do the right thing and seek a professional opinion.
While we are still working to inform and educate our community, here are a few things to consider before purchasing an online hearing device or one that is sold over the
Visit Your Local Audiologist With All Of Your Questions
There are many factors that determine hearing loss. Everyone is very different, and no two issues will be the same.
Sometimes hearing problems can be caused by a buildup of wax or a growth within the ear. This is something an OTC will not address, and if left untreated, it can lead to more harmful problems.
A visit to an audiologist will determine the exact cause and status of your hearing so an accurate diagnosis can be made.
Prescribed hearing aids are far more advanced and have settings to address most hearing issues directly.
You and your audiologist work as a team to get your hearing healthy again.
Be Mindful Of Creative Marketing
An OTC device is only able to treat mild hearing loss. They don’t have the advanced technology to treat and help with moderate or severe hearing losses.
They simply amplify sound.
This doesn’t stop OTC companies from making claims that stretch the truth or mislead the consumer.
OTCs can be marketed as “FDA registered,” which sounds very official but far from “FDA approved.” We only deal with FDA-approved hearing aids.
Getting FDA approval takes a lot of testing and reworking to ensure the product does what it says.
FDA registered means the product has been submitted to the FDA but has not been processed yet.
This has become such an issue that the FDA has started filing cease and desist orders to companies using this tactic.
Options For Recourse
Thankfully, California law requires all sellers of OTCs to honor a 45-day return policy with no added fees.
Under California law (Civil Code section 1793.02), as a consumer, you are entitled to return or exchange anytime within this timeframe. If the company has offered you a longer time above and beyond the 45 days, they MUST honor that instead.
The seller must also provide you with this information in writing on the date of purchase. This is so you know exactly what their expiration date is so you can make an informed decision.
Do You Have Questions?
We are always happy to chat if you have questions regarding your hearing or a loved one. However, there are many options out there, and it can be tough to navigate by yourself.