I rely heavily on the daily use of hearing aids in both ears. Many people have no clue what hearing aids are all about — what they can and cannot do, and some interesting facts about them.
Hearing aids are a lot like cars. They’re mechanical things that require daily maintenance, tune ups and care. They also have a shelf life, a much shorter one than cars do. The average life-span of a hearing aid is approximately 7 years. Not only do the little tiny components wear out the latest technology can provide a far superior experience than older hearing aids. Speaking of technology, the advancement in technology of hearing aids today has increased exponentially during the past 10-15 years. The latest hearing aids come with a variety of cool gadgets that enable bluetooth compatibility, conference and meeting speaking and television amplification and clarity.
So, I am currently in the market for new hearing aids. My current ones are already 7 years old and they’re literally dying. Plus as a technology geek I’m dying to get in on the latest gadgetry that will only improve the quality of my hearing. Plus, I’ll actually be able to hear you instead of pretending I heard you. Now I have you thinking don’t I? :):):)
My Unique Story
Here’s my problem though. I am only 35 years old and have been wearing hearing aids for 32 years. The majority of hearing aid wearers are much MUCH older than I am and likely haven’t been wearing hearing aids for as long as I have. What does this mean? How hearing aid dispensers operate are very much in tune with the older person crowd. From business hours to appointment scheduling to how they treat you when you’re in their offices. Case in point — check out the Facebook page for Canadian dispenser ListenUp! Canada. I rest my case!
The biggest thing is when it comes to hearing aid shopping. I have been going to 1 dispenser for over 10 years because they have provided me with great service, but I am in no way shape or form married to them. This is a bit contrary to what 99.9% of their customers do. They are used to “once a customer, always a customer”. Not me. Especially when I am about to fork out over $4,000 for new hearing aids. What do I like to do? I like to price shop, on my own terms. This does not mean I am going to book an appointment with every single hearing aid dispensing company in the Greater Toronto Area and spend weeks upon weeks visiting each of their offices. I have already done my research, and know exactly what I am looking for in my next purchase. All I want to do is make a bunch of phone calls, tell them what type of hearing aid I am looking for, including manufacturer and model number. Then I want them to give me a price quote, inclusive of all discounts and additional charges. No fuss, no hassle and no time wasting.
Does This Work?
So I made a total of 6 phone calls to 6 different companies, and what was the common reaction to my request? “Well sir… we don’t give quotes over the phone. Why don’t you book an appointment with us, bring in your audiogram so we can discuss which hearing aid is best for you and we can talk about price then”. Ummmm…. didn’t they listen to anything I was saying? Plus, I don’t have 3 weeks to waste until they have an opening for an appointment. And why would I want to tell my story 6 times over?
Now, I am not blaming them per se because I am not their typical customer, but this is a fantastic example of how the customer experience always dictates buying decisions. My experience matters more than anything, excluding price I guess, to a certain degree. However, I likely would be willing to spend a few more bucks with a dispenser if I knew I was getting the kind of service I want.
Normally I would be a bit sensitive to customer experience, but in this case I am not a traditional customer AND I need to accept the way things are and cope. Coping is what I do in my every day life with my disability so this is nothing new.