1. Make sure you get a hearing test done at your local hearing aids clinic - Visiting your local audiologist or hearing aids specialist is the foremost important step in determining whether a hearing aid can help you. If so, then the hearing test will produce an audiogram which is a graph that indicates the levels of your hearing loss. Your doctor will recommend you certain hearing aids (make and model) based on your hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
2. Compare prices online - Once you have got all the information from your doctor's office, it's time to do some shopping online to compare the prices. Most of the time, your doctor will charge you a very expensive fee for hearing aids. This is not without reason, as their prices come bundled with their high associated costs of running their physical clinics e.g. rental, wages, advertising, follow up visits etc. In fact, the hearing aids you find at a reputable online shop are exactly the same quality product that your doctor will supply to you. That means they come from the same manufacturers together with complete manuals, user guides, and warranties.
3. Revisiting your doctor - Though your online seller can do the initial programming of your hearing aids according to your audiogram, for optimum results, it is essential that you visit a physical specialist that will fit your hearing aids for you and conduct follow up visits to do adjustments and fine-tuning. Of course you need to pay for their services. Usually, an audiologist charges a one-time fee to perform these services (fees varies between different clinics). Nevertheless, when you add up the service fees together with the price of purchasing your hearing aid online, you will find that you are still saving a lot of money.
Having said that, there are several things to be aware of when purchasing hearing aids online.
1. Style of hearing aid - It is important to understand that it is more appropriate to buy Behind the Ear (BTE) style of hearing aids online as these are universal. For custom-made hearing aids such as In the Ear (ITE) and Completely in the Canal (CIC) that require ear impressions, it is recommended to visit your local audiologist to do so to ensure you get a perfect fit.
2. Search for a reputable seller - Find a seller that has good reputation! Don't buy from an online seller just because he is cheaper. Common sense will tell you that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. When buying on eBay, look at their feedbacks or what others who have bought from them have to say about them. If they are an online shop, ask them questions and see how responsive they are. One way to see if they are genuine is whether they request for your audiogram so they can program your hearing aids for you. See whether they have other hearing aids and accessories for sale. Also, make sure they have a secure site which will protect your financial information when transacting with them. When a seller accepts Paypal, it is usually regarded as a safe and secure method of payment.
3. DO NOT pay by cash or money transfer - If an online seller asks you to deposit cash into their bank accounts or make a direct money transfer such as Western Union to them, be very careful. When you pay by cash or money transfer, you are no longer protected in the case the seller does not deliver what you have purchased. Your money is as good as gone. It is safer to pay using your credit card or through an online merchant such as PayPal as they have some kind of online fraud protection.
It is always a good idea to follow your intuition when shopping online. When you are smart about what you do and choose, you can actually save a lot of money e.g. more than $1000 on a pair of quality hearing aids. Surely this saving can be better used elsewhere