The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office recently took action against Microtone Hearing Instruments, a hearing aid business out of Williamsport, PA for deceptive and unfair business practices. Microtone Hearing Instruments has a BBB rating of an F.
Within the last 12 months, the BBB has seen a 3 fold increase of activity in the Hearing Aids & Assistive Device industry.
Your BBB offers the following advice when purchasing a hearing aid:
· The Hearing Aid Sales Registration Law provides PA consumers with various rights and protections when purchasing a hearing aid. All hearing aid dealers and fitters must be registered with the PA Department of Health and their registration certificate must be clearly posted in their office or place of business. (To verify that a dealer is registered call 717.783.1379.)
· Before the dealer or fitter can provide any services to you, he or she must give you a disclosure agreement that must be explained to you in detail and be signed by you and the dealer or fitter. Be sure the disclosure agreement includes fees associated with the fitting procedure or process and the sale and delivery of the hearing aid.
· Before the sale of any hearing aid, the dealer or fitter must give you a copy of the User Instructional Brochure for the hearing aid, review the content of the brochure with you, and give you an opportunity to read the brochure.
· During the six months prior to purchasing a hearing aid, you must have received an examination by an otologist, otolaryngologist or any licensed physician and a written recommendation stating that the use of a hearing aid may be beneficial.
· The sale of each hearing aid must be accompanied by a 30-day money-back written guarantee. This guarantee must allow you to return the hearing aid within 30 days of the date of delivery in the same condition as when purchased, ordinary wear and tear excluded. You will be entitled to a refund of the purchase price of the hearing aid and accessories within 30 days of their return. (A dealer may retain a cancellation fee which may not exceed the lesser of 10% of the purchase price or $150. Also there may be some additional non-refundable fees for services already rendered that would be outlined in the disclosure agreement.)
· At the time of the sale, the dealer or fitter must give you a written receipt signed by the dealer or fitter which contains important information regarding the hearing aid and the dealer or fitter such as the date of sale, make, model and serial number or identification number of the hearing aid, the address of the principal place of business of the registrant, if the hearing aid is used or reconditioned, the registrant’s registration certificate number, the terms of any guarantee or express warranty made to the purchaser with respect to the hearing aid, and copies of the all forms. This receipt must also advise you that if your rights are violated, you may contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection or the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
· When certain medical conditions regarding your ears are found to exist; such as visible or congenital deformities, drainage within the last 90 days, sudden or progressive hearing loss, acute or chronic dizziness, or other ear related issues, the dealer or fitter must suggest to you in writing that it is in your best interest to consult a licensed physician specializing in diseases of the ear. They then may not sell you and fit you for a hearing aid without a written recommendation from a licensed physician that a hearing aid may be beneficial to you.
If consumers have problems, they should file a complaint with the BBB at www.bbb.org. They should also contact the Attorney General Health Care Unit by calling 717.705.6938 and the Department of Health, Hearing Aid Program at 717.783.1379.