I’m All Ears

Since the government agency wouldn’t accept Total Hearing’s proposal for the daughter’s hearing aids, she had to go to another hearing center, get her hearing retested and have another proposal sent in.  Because I/we provide most of her transportation, the wife and I went along and watched and listened.  The more we saw and heard, the more dissatisfied the wife became with both the hardware and the customer interaction.  With three of their number being charged with various frauds, there was no assurance that they would remain in business to provide future parts and service.  When they handed over the hearing aids, they verbally assured us that there was a 90-day return period, if we were not happy for any reason.

The wife decided to take them up on their offer, and we were immediately tangled in red tape.  They got our payment immediately, via MasterCard, but wanted four to six weeks to issue a refund cheque.  Yes, we could return the hearing aids….for a restocking charge, something not mentioned in the rush to get our money deposited.  They would return our money, less $150….per ear.  Damn!  That’s $600 dollars total, for the two of us, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It seemed well worth the money to get away from such an unreliable, unscrupulous bunch of money-grubbers.

We went to the Arnold Hearing Centre in Kitchener.  It’s the business base for four other Arnold Centres in the nearby Southern Ontario area.  From the time we walked in we felt comfortable.  They took the time, and provided information and support that Total Hearing never bothered to.  The hearing test was longer and more involved.  Data taken for our files was more extensive.  The staff was just more personable and helpful, rather than focussed on the sales bottom line.

The model of hearing aid we chose was a little more complex than the bottom of the barrel units foisted on us by Total Hearing.  We wound up shelling out another, extra $600, but the difference is noticeable.  They are slightly smaller and lighter.  They have a wider range of controls, and they come with a business-card sized remote control to direct them.  They’re even smart enough to have a little voice that tells you “battery”, when it’s time to replace them.

Arnolds included, not one, but two, boxes of batteries, for each of us, at no extra cost.  We had bought a box of batteries from Total Hearing, but they would not give a refund for the unused balance.  I asked if Arnolds would take them as an exchange, since they were a different size from the ones in the new units, and they were happy to do so.  In fact, the day we were there, our technician said that he was running a bit short of that particular size and could use them till new stock arrived.

The cost of the unit which plugs into a TV, and broadcasts directly to the ear is $300.  Arnolds was happy that we had decided to use their Centre but felt badly that we had been dinged on the refund at Total, so they included one, at no charge.  We took it home and plugged it in.  The first night we wanted to watch a movie, it was amazing.  Not only is there no straining to make out the dialog, it makes it feel as if you are standing in the middle of the action.  We watch a fair amount of British TV, including Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.  Perhaps now, with our ears practically in the midst of the action, we will be able to forego the distracting subtitles to clearly catch the British-isms.  The most recent captioner for Poirot obviously doesn’t have the script, and makes mistakes even I can catch, especially when Hercule lapses into a bit of French.

I know that this post is probably uninteresting because it’s such a personal rant.  I just needed it, to vent my frustration at getting pulled in by some fast-talking snake-oil salesmen.  It’s also a cautionary tale for others, to think about any deal, especially one worth four thousand dollars.  After the fact, I can find no on-line review site for either the Total Hearing Centres, or the Arnold Hearing Centres, so I decided to post this to provide my own opinions about their relative merits and demerits.  If I can prevent even one potential Southern Ontario customer from being caught in the mercenary web of Total Hearing, it will have been worth it.

Please forgive my choler.  I will be back in a day or so with something a bit more universally interesting.  At least I hope it will be mildly interesting….I heard that!

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