Hearing aids have changed a lot. How they look (they’re way smaller) and what they can do (they’re pretty smart) are very different than even a few years ago. At Hearing Connection, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality hearing technology at a reasonable price.
From a young age, my dad taught me that you get what you pay for. He learned that lesson from sad experience. He told me about saving up his money and buying a brand new car. It was new, but it was one of the cheapest ones on the lot. It held all the allure of a new car. It was shiny and it had that new car smell. However, these feelings were short lived when within just a short period of time, it ended up having mechanical problems. After the warranty expired, the problems escalated. They turned into expensive engine troubles and fluid leaks. What originally was a cheap new car ended up costing him thousands in down the road repairs. He taught me to do the research and pay extra for quality. He said that if I did that, I would never be disappointed.
I have learned that many other people share my dad's philosophy for spending extra money on quality and function. Early on in my audiology career, I worked in busy neuro-otology practice in Utah. We saw patients from all over Utah who came in with a variety of medical-hearing related problems and they wanted the best technology money could buy. Most of them worked in air conditioned offices, they drove air conditioned cars, and returned to their air conditioned homes. Most of them lived in relatively dust-free environments. I became very good at fitting high-quality, extremely sophisticated hearing instruments.
Later in my career, we moved to Montana to get out of the city to raise a family. Things were much different here. Instead, dust, dirt, sweat, heat, cold and occasionally some cow poop were the norm. It meant a total and dramatic shift in how we did business. We looked at some of the water proof technologies that were available, but the internal computer circuitry didn't meet our standards. Most of the high-end hearing aid technologies wouldn't stand up to the punishment our patients dish out.
We researched a wide variety of hearing aid technologies. Some would flat-out fail after a week of heavy riding in the dust and heat. Others were promising, but the manufacturer would void the warranty if we opened them up to do some internal micro-soldering to fix a problem. Almost by accident, we landed a manufacturer that has some amazing technology. These things are able to stand up to all kinds of abuse. Occasionally they will plug up with sweat, but we just open 'em up, suction out the ports, and replace the filters and boom, they're back working again. They're also modular, which means that even in worst case scenarios, like when the device fails outright, we can open it up and replace a module and it's back up and going, good as new.
This means that when a patient travels for 4 hours to see us with a non-functional hearing aid, in most cases, we can have it fixed and ready for them by the time they have finished their lunch. And that means we usually don't have to send them to the manufacturer for a repair. We have even convinced the manufacturer to train us on some pretty extensive repairs that we can now do in-house. This saves them money because they don't have to do it and it makes our patients super happy when we can hand it back to them before they head out of town.
For a time, we tried competing with low-end, box-store or internet purchased hearing aids. We found early on, that the money the patient saved by going cheap, meant a whole lot more expense down the road as they paid for internal circuitry that had completely corroded from just a little bit of sweat (sweat and precision electronics don't mix). We now no longer try to compete on price. We refuse to sell junk. I can't tell you how many people bring me big, full-page ads touting the cost of their cheap hearing aids. I explain to them our position and most agree that you save money over time by spending extra for quality.
So my dad's lesson about paying extra for quality has paid off in my life. Our patients seem to agree with that philosophy and if we can provide our expertise, better function, and higher quality, they seem to appreciate it as well.