11 – Regulation of Hearing Aid Sales

Rights afforded to purchasers of hearing aids depend upon the state where the purchase has been made. This system has resulted in a patchwork of laws and regulations across the country. Only 30 states mandate a trial period during which the consumer can decide if the hearing aid purchased is suitable. In those states that require trial periods, consumers have the right to return the hearing aid and obtain a refund. The length of time for the trial period varies from state to state.

Typically, the hearing aid dispenser is allowed to keep some fees to cover the cost of the ear mold, the cost of an audiogram, if done, and a percentage or flat fee to cover the dispenser’s time spent with the consumer choosing a hearing aid. The terms of the trial period should be provided in writing, including the start and end date for the trial period and any fees that the dispenser is entitled to keep if the hearing aid is returned within the trial period.

In states that have no mandatory trial period accompanied by refunds, providing these rights is left to the discretion of the individual hearing aid dispenser. Many dispensers see the value of a trial period even if not mandated by law. In addition, sales of hearing aids, just like any other product, are covered by the sales contract. Consumers may be able to negotiate a trial period and have that included in the contract. Consumers must be sure to read and understand the sales contract.

Consumer Rights

Hearing Loss Association of America has compiled information regarding the trial period for hearing aids for every state in the United States. The information available on the HLAA website also identifies the state agency that accepts and reviews complaints about hearing aid dispensers. Complaints are not limited to trial periods and refunds in those states that require them, but may cover any aspect of the consumer’s experience in dealing with a hearing aid dispenser and purchasing a hearing aid.

See consumer protection laws according to state

In three states, Arizona, Florida and New York, information about telecoils must be included in educational materials for consumers. This is the kind of useful information that allows people to use their hearing aids to their fullest advantage.

A Caveat: The information was obtained by searching the laws and regulations of each state on line. In a few instances, personal contact was made with a state official to verify or clarify available information. However, no state law or regulation expressly states the absence of a right to a trial period and a refund. So, the conclusion, “None required,” was assumed for many of the states listed in the table as having no mandatory trial period. It is possible that in doing this research, the existence of a required trial period accompanied by a refund was simply not found, although the state may provide these rights.

See more on advocacy for people with hearing loss