I was sixty-one years young when I retired early from my job. It was quite demanding, because I had moved up the ladder and seemed to spend my time at meetings. These became increasingly difficult to deal with, because I seemed to struggle to get across my points.
I began taking more of a back seat at strategic sessions, spending my time doodling patterns on the agenda while I tried to follow conversations. I left my job when I noticed my colleagues increasingly excluding me. I mention these things because I was missing the point. The real problem was I was gradually becoming deaf.
My wife and took a while to get used to being together 24/7. She’s actually quite a conversational person, who sees nothing wrong with calling between rooms. I can’t begin to recall how many times I asked her to repeat herself. The straw that broke the camels back came when she finally said, Brian, it’s time you got hearing aids.
That made me mad as a coyote on a hot day. I’m not deaf, I shouted back. It’s your job to come to me if you have something to say, I retorted as I stormed out of the house.
I found somewhere quiet to sit while I considered my options. Was I really going deaf? What did this mean? What would people say, would they laugh at my hearing aids? Or would the inconvenience be worth it if I could hear better again?
I invented an excuse to go to town on my own. I hoped nobody would recognize me as I slipped into a hearing aid store not knowing what would happen. Although to be honest, it looked more like a boutique than the clinic I expected. When the assistant looked up and asked, “Are you here for a hearing test?” I wondered if they could read minds.
To cut a long story short, I listened to whistles and beeps in a booth for ten minutes after which the assistant examined my ears. My ears are in good shape but she told me I was somewhat deaf.
Hearing aids can help you fix that, she promised. You may think $1,250 is a lot of money, but I assure they will help. I’ll think about it, I muttered before I took the quotation and left. The process had been so slick I wondered if it was a scam.
I returned and told my wife what I had discovered. I’m pleased you had the test, she said. In fact I half wondered if that’s where you were, Brian. Peter and Jane seem happy enough with their hearing aids, so why not you too?
But the $1,250 price was still sticking in my throat. How could hearing aids cost so much, when they process sound like wireless ear pods do? I learned the process was much different. But how could they cost as much as an iPhone? I decided to shop around.
There are several hearing aid stores in our town. They are all corporate outlets, or franchise operations that squeeze out private retailers. There was a certain similarity when I visited all three. An identical hearing test which told me what I already knew, and a fancy outlet at an expensive address that was empty of customers when I walked in.
I began to wonder how cost-effective those businesses really were. I figured out they must be losing money because they were in upmarket shopping malls. They each had two to three people staffing them, a receptionist, a person on the counter, and sometimes a technician at the back.
When I searched on the internet for the self-same hearing aids on the quote, I easily found them for several hundred dollars less. In other words, the store didn’t only want to supply the hearing aids. They also expected me to contribute to their lease and overhead.
Now while I appreciate retail shopping comes with a bill, I don’t allow custom to stand in my way of getting a bargain. We have shopped for clothes, food and appliances on the internet, my mind said. So what’s wrong with ordering hearing aids remotely? My wife agreed with my logic. But, just be careful what you find is not a scam she warned.
I have a way of avoiding being caught out on the internet and it has always worked for me. First, I check the address bar and the contact page for anything that does not look right. Then I follow the social media links to make the sure the content is recent and the links go where I expect. If the domain age checks out and the English grammar is good, then I am confident to go ahead.
I found a website called Blue Angels Hearing that ticked all my boxes. Their prices were a fraction of what I had seen in town, and they have a written money back policy if their hearing aids don’t work as expected.
I went the whole nine yards and ordered their top-end, in-ear, rechargeable hearing aids for $597 a pair with free shipping from Seattle. The online ordering process was simple and the package arrived in a couple days. And yes, their hearing aids do help me hear better so I am well pleased. I expect you will be too if you can accept the hard-truth about your hearing.
Bio: Mike is a recent retiree who has struggled with his hearing for years. This is an account of his experience coming to terms with that reality and his journey to finding Blue Angels Hearing, one of the most popular hearing aid brands in the country.