What “Locked” Hearing Aids Are and Why You Don’t Want Them

If you’re like most people, you understand that there are lots of different hearing aid brands on the market. But did you know that some hearing aids use proprietary technology that requires you to return to the provider you purchased them from for repairs and adjustments?

That’s called “locked” hearing aid software technology. Locked hearing aids are commonly sold at warehouse/big box and franchise retail stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Belton, Miracle Ear and NuEar clinics, and can only be fit and programmed by that specific seller. These hearing aids use a computer chip that will only work with that retailer’s computer software.

Locked Hearing Aids Can Make Service Inconvenient

This means if you try to take these hearing aids to another clinic or professional for service or repairs, you may be out of luck. Other audiologists cannot work on them. This can become a problem, and often is, especially for individuals who move, travel or want another professional’s assistance.

For example, if you winter in Florida or Arizona, and have locked hearing aids, you’ll have to take your hearing aids back to the same retailer or big box store that you purchased them from if you need an adjustment or repair. If you take them to an independent practice, they probably won’t be able to help you.

Likewise, if the business you purchased locked hearing aids from goes out of business, or ends its contract with the supplier of your hearing aids, you also could be “stuck.” No independent audiologist can work on them.

How to Avoid Buying Locked Hearing Aids

So how can you avoid being limited to one provider that can work on your hearing aids? Ask the provider you are seeing lots of questions, and start with: Are these hearing aids “locked?” Or, “If I am out of town and need my hearing aids serviced, where can I take them?” If the answer is that you can only go to that same type of store or practice, you might want to reconsider purchasing them.

In addition, when you purchase hearing aids at a warehouse club/big box store, though the technology may seem current to you, they may be providing older technology that has been available on the open market for some time.

All of Our Hearing Aids Use Open Software Platforms

Bottom line, professional practices such as Associated Audiologists offer the widest selection of hearing aid technology and products from the world’s most respected hearing aid manufacturers that use open software platforms. This means audiologists in other states can service your hearing aids. Some manufacturers we work with regularly include: Widex, ReSound, Phonak, Lyric, Starkey, Signia, Hansaton, Westone, Neuromonics, Esco and PowerOne.

Don’t Let Cost Keep You Away

If cost is your primary concern, and that’s why you’re considering a warehouse environment, be aware that entry-level hearing aids are available for as little as $675 each at Associated Audiologists. Premium and mid-level hearing aids, with more sophisticated features, may run up to $2,600 each. Our audiologists discuss your budget and goals up front and provide you with a written estimate of their recommendations.

Associated Audiologists Offers More

You’ll also receive several other perks when you purchase from Associated Audiologists:

  • 45-day assessment period to determine if you are fully satisfied with your hearing aids.
  • Comprehensive care for hearing loss, dizziness, balance, and tinnitus all within the same full-service, independent and locally-owned audiology practice. ALL audiologists are doctoral-level audiologists.
  • Wax removal, a common need for patients.
  • Loaner program when appropriate in the event your hearing aid needs to be sent to the manufacturer for repair.
  • Monday through Friday “Urgent Ear” hours for emergent problems or for same-day repairs, along with manufacturer repairs when necessary.
  • Utilization of real-ear technology to verify that your hearing aids are fit according to recommended prescriptions for proper hearing and safety. Only approximately 20 to 30 percent of practices in the country do this.
  • Recommend and provide critical follow-up appointments for check-ups, adjustments, and monitoring of hearing.
  • Patients with health insurance may have hearing aid coverage that could help with the costs. We accept Medicare, most insurances and investigate whether or not your particular plan has coverage for hearing aids.
  • If you purchase hearing aids through a professional practice, they qualify as medical devices and are exempt from sales tax, which may not be the case if you purchase hearing aids through retail outlets.
  • Financing options are available for individuals who qualify.

Don’t get “locked” out of your hearing aids. Talk with a doctoral-level audiologist to discuss the best hearing aids for your budget and lifestyle. Call 1-855-547-8745 or schedule an appointment.