Posted by - General.

UPDATE – AUGUST 11 2016: We checked today, and the website described below is still selling Oticon Opn aids to the general public with no local audiological support.

Oticon’s new Opn hearing aids were recently discovered for sale online for a conspicuously low price. While we’d rather not divulge the exact price, we can confirm that the direct-to-consumer cost was so low that some practicing audiologists reported paying the same amount to purchase their own hearing aid stock.

Oticon Opn Aids being sold online for cheap

Online Sales Incident Reported

The online seller was reported to a closed group of audiologists on Facebook:

Oticon hearing aids for sale online

Audiologists Respond

In a matter of hours the seller was reported to Oticon by group members. Oticon has reportedly contacted the online retailer and terminated their buyer contract:

Oticon responds to online sales

 

Protecting Consumer and Audiologists

Oticon’s move was welcomed by audiologists (as indicated by the number of likes on the comment above), and should be welcomed by consumers as well. Oticon’s Opn hearing aids are capable of outputting 127 dB SPL, and have the potential to cause immediate hearing damage in the hands of the wrong person:

oticon-power

Our Position

While Hearing Tracker has taken the position of embracing new hearing device technologies, we are also aware of the complexity of medical-grade hearing aids. Devices that have the potential to produce extremely high decibel output should be carefully fitted by audiologists using output verification via Real Ear Measurement (REM). To fit a hearing aid any other way is irresponsible and reckless. The risk to further damaging your remaining hearing just isn’t worth it.

Finding a Responsible Audiologist

In the past we’ve been asked “Where do I find an audiologist who does Real Ear Measurements?” Browse over to our Find a Hearing Clinic page and select “Real Ear Measurements” to find someone in your area who performs the test.

find-a-real-ear-measurement-audiologist

UPDATE

It would appear that the online seller is still selling the Oticon Opn. We will continue to monitor the situation and confirm when the seller’s Opn listing has been removed.

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  • Christopher Scot Frink

    Kudus to Oticon and its parent company, William Demant, for taking a stand on this. Internet sales of hearing aids are NOT in the interest of the consumer for many reasons, a lot which the writer of this blog included about real ear measurements and follow-up services. The consumer needs to realize that the path to better hearing is not solely through the acquisition of the hearing aid, but also through proper fitting and diagnosis. If you suspected you had a heart problem, you wouldn’t purchase heart medication only unless you knew exactly what you needed. But treatment of hearing loss is even more complicated than that. It is more akin to physical therapy–a journey, not a destination–for which you need proper guidance. And this is where a properly trained audiologist or hearing instrument specialist is key to your success, someone you can go to when things aren’t quite working right in order to provide the expertise you need to solve your problems.

    • Shankar/Selina

      Ever wondered why folks buy these devices online? COST. If you are seriously interested in assisting the needy, let them pick the device and you or the specialist provide the expertise charge for the service.. A win- win for all. Sure there is high profit in these product. Not all have insurance or the money to afford..

      • Christopher Scot Frink

        Actually, while cost is one reason why people don’t purchase, it’s not the main reason. In countries where Goverment healthcare systems cover hearing aids, marketing penetration isn’t much better than it is in the United States. As an example, the UK has the highest market penetration worldwide because they subsidize the entire cost, and yet market penetration is only 12% better than the US.

        The primary reason people don’t get hearing aids is lack of good information or belief on misinformation.

        Hearing aids are a tool for rehabilitating the hearing loss. The ongoing service is akin to physical therapy and bundled into the cost of the product. That’s one reason why they cost so much.

        • I’d also add that encouraging the consumer to “pick” their device would be misguided. I think some consumers will get lucky and just happen to choose the right device from the options available online … but the vast majority will choose something that is inadequate, poorly fitting, or otherwise inappropriate giving their hearing loss/lifestyle/physical factors/etc. The best recipe for success really is having an expert guide you through the selection process after getting to know your needs, etc. There’s a lot more to it than you think, and honing in on the right device is equal parts art and science.

        • Ahmed Saad

          Hi, Dr Christopher, My name is Ahmed Saad from Egypt, 21 old year. My mother discovered that I have hearing loss when I was 6 year old, She tried to help me through hearing aids, at first I do not like as they were strange for me and I was young and it produce noise in bad manner that annoying me but no one believe me at this time they though that I want to find any excuse to take off it , After that when I was 14 I wear widex ITE model, This one really change my life in different ways then 2 years after that I wear another one but BTE model and I still wearing it till now from 2010, But as I grow my natural hearing become low and low so I use to have a better hearing aid, I just want to know which type of hearing loss I suffer ? And If there is any surgical intervention to help me ? I do not know if you will replay Or even see this post, I want to chat you If you can . Thank you .

    • mamouian

      I’m trialing them now from a local audiologist and, while I like them, I’m not going to pay double the price.

  • Marc Blank

    Wow; this is just so wrong-headed. Audiologists need to wake up and look around; what’s happened with all other retail sales will happen as well with hearing aids. Sales and service need to be split; there’s simply no excuse to pay so much for HA’s these days. It’s just rent-seeking behavior on the part of those who have an oligopoly on sales.

    As someone with many years of HA experience, and who needs little support, why should I pay full freight just to support an obsolete system of distribution?

    • Marc,

      The cost of hearing aids and the cost of audiological services are typically bundled together by service providers. There are positive and negative effects of this. On the positive side, the pricing is simple, and it makes it easier for consumers to understand the total cost of obtaining hearing aids. On the negative side, consumers like yourself are effectively subsidizing the services provided to patients who require more time with the audiologist. Conversely, those more in-need patients are getting a really great deal, and are effectively cashing in on the service insurance policy guaranteed by bundled hearing aid pricing (typically you get a year or more of unlimited service with bundled pricing) …

      There has recently been an increasing number of providers offering unbundled hearing aid pricing. The average consumer would end up paying a similar amount for services+hearing aids as they do today, while less in-need patients would pay less overall. Those who have the most difficult hearing needs would end up paying more than they pay for the bundled option. So, there are winners and losers.. but if you know yourself well enough to know that you are an “easy to fit” patient… then I would suggest finding an audiologist who offers unbundled pricing. Call around and you are likely to find someone in your area. Alternatively see if there is anyone listed in our database near you after clicking on the filter “unbundled hearing aid pricing” from our clinic finder page.

      • Marc Blank

        There are none of those within 200 miles of me. My point is that everyone should be offering bundled and unbundled services – it’s the way all of retail is going, and this should be no different. For the many of us who have owned HA’s for years and are just upgrading, etc., there’s no good reason to pay a “bundled”price. So when folks like you go after online sellers, sure, they are inappropriate for first-time users, many times of hearing issues, etc. On the other hand, why shouldn’t more experienced/repeat users have a choice, including online resellers.

        I am more than happy to pay my local audi for her services; the fact that I can’t, independent of paying literally thousands of dollars for services not received, strikes me as very unreasonable.

        • I mentioned that you might need to call around. You’ll most likely find someone closer than you think. Our directory is always a work in progress and we rely on providers registering for a free account if they want to be found by consumers like yourself. Also, the “unbundled hearing aid pricing” option was a relatively recent addition, so some providers may not have had that option when they first registered.

          I am not debating with your point about unbundling. I think its great for consumers to have all the options, and if you’d prefer to pay as you go, then I think you should seek that option.

          With regard to online sellers.. I probably know a bit more about this industry than most people. I can tell you that most of the online sellers are predatory and offer limited support, no (or subpar) loss and damage warranty, etc. They are often run by hearing aid dispensers as a side gig to earn extra income.. they can make a quick buck and not have the responsibility of dealing with any of your problems. So while it might look like it makes financial sense.. it often doesn’t … If you have a problem with the device outside of year 1, you’re on your own with no recourse. Some online sellers may be exceptional.. but in general consumers need to be extremely careful assessing the terms and the seller’s credentials…

          Aside from that .. there are other issues.. Even as an experienced user, there is still no way for a seller to pre-program your hearing aids accurately without measuring the output of the hearing aids on your ear (using real ear measurements). I have worked with many experienced users who had far too much (or too little) amplification, and who had no idea… the only way to know objectively is to measure it. If you are OK with that risk (or don’t care about getting the most from your hearing aids) then I suppose you could consider buying online.. however, if you can find unbundled care and at least have the measurement done and have a warranty, etc.. that would be much better.

          Good luck!

          • Jeff bedbury

            Buying hearing aids online is not right for everyone. It is right for a lot of people. The industry is all about control. If the manufacturers could go direct to consumer they would. Within the next 5 years, 10 at the most, there will be no more Beltone etc. You will buy these things at Verizon. Test and program them yourself. The big six are dead, they just don’t know it. For now they are just trying to control and get as much as they can. If the average clinic pays $1000 for something they sell to us for $3000 or more, what are we getting for that $4000 for a pair? I buy my prescription lenses online, my medication online. I am going to buy my hearing aids online too.

          • Jeff, things are actually moving in that direction.The Committee on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults, a part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine or IOM), recently issued a report recommending the following:

            The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should establish a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) wearable hearing devices. This device classification would be separate from “hearing aids.” OTC wearable hearing devices would be defined as wearable, over-the-counter devices that can assist adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

            Importantly, the committee also recommends that OTC hearing aids belimited in amplification level so as to limit potential hearing damage:

            safe maximal sound output (e.g., upper limit for dB SPL [decibel of sound pressure level] peak output) at levels to be determined in conjunction with national experts in hearing conservation

            Most people with hearing loss are actually in the mild to moderate hearing loss category, so this type of change in the regulations would effectively open up OTC hearing aid solutions to the vast majority of those with hearing loss. While audiological best practices will continue to be the gold standard (regardless of a change in regs), this will give consumers like yourself the option of DIY. Regarding your comment about DIY hearing testing… the committee’s recommendations support you there as well:

            Have the option to include accessory tests for self-assessment of mild to moderate hearing loss for purposes of selecting and fitting an OTC hearing device.

            Anyway, the current technology simply isn’t there YET. While you may be able to go online and buy a powerful hearing aid.. the hearing aids aren’t capable of testing your hearing on their own YET… and they aren’t capable of measuring the amplification output in your earcanal YET.. therefore there are still substantial risks to consumers who purchase online. I am not saying the future will not make this process easier.. but I am saying that with today’s technology it might be best not to sell high powered hearing aids online.. having said that.. if you want to buy online, and try hard enough, you will find options.. Just please be careful until the technology safeguards are in place to protect you.

          • jeff bedbury

            OTC hearing devices like you are talking about are already available. You make it sound like hearing aids in the hands of untrained professionals will kill people. What a joke. I can go and buy a chainsaw, I don’t need a professional logger to come and cut down a tree. If things are too loud, unless you are an idiot, you will turn it down. Maybe you will just take them out. I have seen what the professionals do, it is nothing more than monkey work. The days it actual being an art are gone. Yes some people are always going to require more attention, those people may continue care at Universities or ENT clinics. The rest of us we don’t need some non-sense about how much of a science it is. Science has made the professional obsolete. Don’t be alarmed it has happened in every industry. The problem is most of the time the people on top never see it coming. I am an advocate for buyhear and the numerous other companies out there. I have several friends that have purchased hearing aids online, they are all happy. If they need to send them back and have to go without for a week, it doesn’t matter. They never would have had them to begin with if they had to pay the ripoff pricing of the local stores.

  • hopebest

    Please don’t do that- let this seller sell the hearing aids. And can you please tell us the cost of the Oticon hearing aids? Don’t you see, if they are selling for what some dispensers are paying that means these hearing aids can be purchased for less- meaning the distributor is making money, the seller is making money, the consumer get’s a better price and the dispensers that wants to keep the old school bundle model alive get upset.
    Believed me, when you hear the arguments against buying online or open market competition- it sounds like a chorus, the same old argument. Consumers are more educated about hearing loss than ever- with an open market and quality comparison charts, most consumers would make a good choice and if not they will take the responsibility.
    I ask Hearing tracker and dispensers to support transparency in cost and advertised cost of devices so consumers can compare prices. Many people, cannot afford the cost of hearing aids, not even the ones from Costco that are from 1/3-1/2 the cost of similar aids from a dispenser.

    • Hey thanks for the comment!

      A lot of audiologists can offer hearing aids for prices similar to what can be found online, but they would not be able to provide their services at those prices as well, and that’s the point, the online retailers aren’t offering audiological support either, so they can actually afford to sell at lower prices. The problem is you end up spending 60% of the price, but end up with a result that is not comparable to the results you will achieve by adding services in. Like buying a car without the engine, it might feel like a great deal, until you need to see it perform.

      PS. More and more audiologists are offering hearing aids using an unbundled pricing model. In fact we have hundreds of clinics listed in our “hearing centers” area that have listed themselves as offering “Unbundled Hearing Aid Pricing”. Simply visit our hearing centers page and click on the filter on the left to see the results.

      • hopebest

        Thank you for your reply. I hear what you are saying. What I don’t want to do is to call audiologist to see what kind of prices they have. What would help is for audiologist to post the hearing aids they carry with the price listed on their website. They can also include the additional services and their cost ( bundle)

        • Some audiologists are really pushing the boundaries. Check this out http://blueskyhearing.com/service-plans/

          • hopebest

            Thanks for the information. This is a good model to begin with except there is only one hearing device with no brand name listed and if the price listed is for one hearing aid the cost for the pair with a two year service would amount to $9,000.
            The price at Costco with an incredible guarantee and service would be in the $3,000 range for the pair.
            But again, I commend this company in putting a new model out there and I hope others follow. Keep up the good reporting.