Buying hearing aids online - a cautionary tale

Buying hearing aids online

Contributed by Dr. Leslie Soiles, Chief Audiologist

10/17/2022 • 5 min read

Today’s story comes from our Chief Audiologist, Dr. Leslie Soiles, who practices out of our HearingLife hearing center in Shrewsbury, MA. 

I recently met with an 86-year-old patient who had purchased direct-to-consumer hearing aids over the internet at the recommendation of her adult son’s research. She has spent the last 2 years going back and forth with the company and their support team trying to get the devices programmed correctly without success. 

She explained that they opted for the online hearing aids because they were less expensive than prescription hearing aids. But she and her husband have been very frustrated with the experience because of the lack of improved hearing and the investment that was made, so they made an appointment to visit our HearingLife location and see if we could help her hear better. 

We provided a comprehensive hearing assessment to determine the nature and degree of her hearing loss. I tested her current devices with real ear measurements to see if they were providing appropriate amplification. The shaded edge represents her degree of hearing loss. The light gray line represents the amount of output that is required (target) from the hearing aid to address this hearing loss. The dark red and dark blue lines represent the measured output of her online devices. The gap between the gray lines and the red and blue lines represents the amount the hearing aids are over/underamplifying. 

audiogram showing real ear measurements with online hearing aids purchased before a visit to hearinglife 

As you can see, her online devices were not even close to reaching her targets. No wonder she and her husband were so frustrated, even though she was wearing her hearing aids!

I fit her with Oticon More™ hearing aids and explained the various financing options we have available. She was thrilled with the 24-month payment option and with how she was hearing with these devices. 

Below are the real ear measurements that were obtained with her Oticon More hearing aids –note how closely the actual output tracks with the gray target line.

audiogram showing real ear measurements with oticon more hearing aids 

As you can see, the Oticon More aids fitted professionally in our office made a big difference for her hearing – and with several payment options, there is a way to fit them into any budget. This patient will now be able to interact with her family and friends and enjoy all the sounds life has to offer. 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) or Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) hearing aids can be a good option for some, but in this case, the devices and service were not sufficient. If you’re going to spend the money on hearing devices, we recommend discussing your options at a local HearingLife center before you decide. 

Book your appointment today and find out what HearingLife’s hearing care professionals can do for you. 

Leslie Soiles, Chief Audiologist
Dr. Leslie Soiles

Au.D., Doctor of Audiology
Lic. #364, Chief Audiologist, HearingLife

Dr. Leslie Soiles founded HearingLife's Shrewsbury's office (formerly New England Hearing Instruments) in 1996. As a Doctor of Audiology, she has worked with Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians for the first 20 years of her career.

Dr. Soiles serves as Chief Audiologist for HearingLife. Click here to read her complete bio and learn more about her education and background.