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!

13 thoughts on “I’m All Ears

  1. The wife and I had much the same experience with a denturist, but we didn’t get any of our money back. An expensive lesson but well learned. When somebody’s significantly cheaper than his competition it’s usually because his product is too.


    • Archon's Den says:

      It was the other way round on this one. Like Jim’s comment below, the bad guys had all the bells and whistles, and you paid for them. Mom and Pop, in a converted house, gave a damn, and a discount.


  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    Doesn’t it seem that certain products and services seem to attract more chicanery artists than others? It seems to me I can tell by the nature of the advertising – more flamboyancy, more braggadocio. Hearing aids would be near the top of the list, judging by my junk mail. Another seems to be a lawn service in my area. They have modern trucks with professional logo’s and hawk their services aggressively, door to door. Turns out, what they do is apply fertilizer and chemicals, including insect control. I succumbed to their lure a couple of years ago, visions of perfect lawn dancing in my head.

    Truck pulls up, operator jumps out, runs over the lawn with a Scott’s manual spreader, is done in 15 minutes, sticks a little plastic sign in the yard bragging of magical unseen results, and speeds off. No trimming, no testing, no guarantee. That little voice of reality in the back of my head: “You dummy – you could have done that yourself for a tenth the cost and gotten exercise in the bargain!”

    One season and that was it, except that severing the relationship was made difficult – phone calls and letters pleading, offering, cajoling, grinning. They still roam the street and I know they’re looking for me. Saw a little plastic sign yesterday, down the street – another sucker bites the dust. They love me and they want me back. Nuts.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I hear that too. Three years with a lawncare firm, and the lawn looks worse than it ever did. Took two phone calls and a letter to get them to quit, and we still get letters proffering their services.


  3. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Archon, sometimes you just have to vent because that’s whats weighing on your mind. My mom spent $2ooo on a pair of hearing aides, she said they ‘tickled’ her ears and wouldn’t wear them….the dog ended up chewing one up (you can laugh if you want, I am) I love her more than anything but, I hate having to scream at her all the time…


    • Archon's Den says:

      I don’t know how some bloggers come up with a blog-theme every day, but this one served today’s purpose. In searching for “Arnold Hearing Centre” I found “Arnold Hearing Aids”, In Memphis. We go back tomorrow for some fine-tuning. If they’re not already, I’ll make them aware of their American cousins, and also this blog.


  4. Sightsnbytes says:

    This was a great post, and since I am in great need of hearing aids (from years working as a DJ and as a logger without hearing protection) and any info would be great. My dad also suffers hearing loss, and the crappy hearing aids he got from the Newfoundland and Labrador Hearing Aid program do little to improve his condition. I used to love television, but now I find myself using the subtitles or actually trying to read lips of the tv characters. In crowds, I cannot hear anything, and perish the thought of engaging in any sort of conversation when two or more people are speaking. Again, thanks for the info, I am seriously considering the TV gadget.


  5. Chris Arnold says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words! I cant even begin to explain how grateful we are that you took the time to write this about us.

    My Grandfather started this business over 60 years ago, then my Father took over and grew it to where it is today. It has now become my turn to bring it even further. One thing we’ve always considered the most important is customer service. We have more competition now then we’ve had and I’m honored you chose us. I’m happy that we made you happy, and we will make sure we never jeopardize that.

    If you ever need anyhing, pleas let me know. Our website is http://www.arnoldhearing.ca and my email is chris.arnold@arnoldhearing.ca .

    Again, thank you!
    -Chris Arnold
    President Arnold Hearing Centres


  6. savor says:

    not drunk, but definitely comfortably medicated on Xanax. oh yeah…….

    dude, you sure seem to know a hell of a lot about hearing aids. do they offer hearing aids with a volume button so you can turn it off if you don’t want to listen to your spouse? or is that considered part of the standard package?

    or is that the his and hers “shut up witch” and “yeah yeah blah blah blah blah” models?


    • Archon's Den says:

      Nothin’ wrong with a little chemical support, just don’t get pregnant, for a variety of reasons. You know the side effects.
      I know a lot about a lot, just, unlike John E, I won’t remember it tomorrow without a trigger. Sop it up like a sponge. I had to, to write this post. My comment to SnB, a couple of weeks ago wasn’t a joke. Know where the OFF switch is! The cheapest units are limited and have to be taken in for adjustment. Our cheap ones had to be plugged into a computer for any change. Current ones are a step up and are controlled wirelessly, both by computer, in the shop, and in day-to-day use by the small remote. It will turn either/both, up, down, on, off or, lets watch TV. That feature is available from second-best units, up to $10,000/pr. Wifey keeps my remote. I don’t get to turn them off.
      Accept any trustworthy assistance offered. Get better, come back, comment wherever/whenever.


      • savor says:

        eh? pregnant? where did that come? in order to get pregnant I would have to have a man put his penis inside my vagina, ejaculate, and time it such that i’m actually ovulating at the time. I probably still ovulate on a regular basis, but all the rest hasn’t happened in a long long time. TMI? Well, you’re the one who brought up the pregnancy thing. Besides, turns out the only fling potential to pique my interest is married. sigh….oh well, eventually I will have wild monkey sex again, but as for now, pregnancy worries are definitely not on my radar.


  7. Archon's Den says:

    Comes from knowing too much. (And saying too much. You’re not the only one.) Side effects of Xanax may include damage to fetuses, fetii….feet? I thought maybe you were going to take Kung-Fu guy for a one on one. Is his husband as good-looking?
    Seriously, pretend you are across the desk from yourself and take the advice to heart. Move slowly and steadily. There’s a lot of us out here rooting for you. It’s not that we Need you to come back, although that would be nice. It’s that a bunch of us want to know that you’ve made it to the point where you Could come back. Prayers, from those who pray. Good luck wishes from those who believe in luck. I believe in you.


    • savor says:

      you believe in me? sniff….sniff….thank you….sniff….sniff

      that is actually really nice to hear. good sniff sniff good boo hoo. cathartic.


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