Hearing Aid Trials And Tribulations

You could get more than you bargain for if you accept a 'free hearing aid trial' offer...

You’re likely familiar with the ads you’ve seen in newspapers, magazines, radio and perhaps even as a flyer shoved in your letter box:

Free Hearing Aid Trials!
We need 25 people to trial the latest hearing aid technology!
Blah! Blah! Blah!

Free Hearing Aid Trials are used prolifically in the hearing aid industry to attract new clients. The reason they are used so much is that they work extremely well for the clinics involved in them.

They work for a few reasons:

  1. Clients believe they are a good way to test drive a hearing aid and are happy to receive a free sample.
  2. Once clients receive something for free, they feel they owe the giving clinic something in return. That something is very often a purchase. This is called reciprocity as is often used in sales and marketing to influence clients. 
  3. Clients believe that the outcome they receive in the trial will be the same outcome they receive in real life. This may not be completely true in many cases.

Okay, so where is the problem with free trials?

"free hearing aid trial!" It sounds enticing, but do you know what you're letting yourself in for?

“free hearing aid trial!” It sounds enticing, but do you know what you’re really letting yourself in for?

All in all, free hearing aid trials seem like a really good idea that appears to serve both client and clinic well. So why would this be a problem?

There are quite a few potential problems with “free trials” if you dig a little deeper:

  • It takes your brain much longer than the week or two to adjust sufficiently for you to experience the final benefit than the free trials are often offered for. So you are basically making a decision based on the honeymoon period, which does not always relate to the long term outcome.
  • Hearing Aids used in free trials are, more often than not, the most expensive top range of the brand you are trialling. So either you have to purchase the top end model to get a similar outcome as with the trial, or you might be disappointed with the real world outcome of the lower level model you have chosen.
  • When hearing aid is fitted for the free trial, typically the ‘first fit’ setting is used. ‘First fit’ settings are designed to give the best initial impression without really representing the long term settings they really need for best performance in the long term.
  • With free trials you are often limited to the devices the clinician has demonstrators for. These are predominantly over the ear devices. There is a chance you do not end up with your ideal solution or the right style of hearing aid based on limited trial options.
  • You might actually decide against hearing aids even though you could have benefitted as the trial normally does not allow for fine tuning adjustments.
  • You might not be fully committed to give the hearing aids a proper go as you have not “skin in the game”. “It’s free so, maybe I don’t need to try and get the best out of it” is an attitude that could lead to failure.

Okay, so if a “free” trial is not the ideal solution then what is?

I don’t just want to buy hearing aids and hope for the best!

  • Make sure the trial is with the hearing aid you will end up purchasing. If at all possible, it needs to be set the way it would be if you had bought it. Many clinics won’t do this as they are trusting you with very expensive stock. And that costs money to return to the supplier. We tend to offer these trials only to clients who have purchased from us before and are looking to upgrade.
  • You could purchase the actual hearing aids recommended to you and make sure you have a decent money back guarantee attached. A 60 day money back guarantee is ideal. It allows sufficient time for your brain to adjust properly to the devices and allow for follow-up appointments to further fine tune the hearing aids to your unique situation. This way you end up with the exact model and style recommended, from the ideal brand, fitted and followed-up properly. After 60 days you will know what the long-term benefit might look like once you have passed the initial honeymoon period. Restocking costs may apply in case of return, but this also motivates you to give it a fair trial, which inevitably is about improving your quality of life in the long term.

To summarize:

  • Be wary of free trials unless it is the exact style and model you were looking to purchase, fitted properly.
  • Consider a money back period over a free trial, as the long term benefits out weight the potential costs.
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