More from the totally random department…
This week, Rush Limbaugh returned from his surgery to install a second cochlear implant. He spent a good part of an hour talking about the mechanics of how hearing works, how cochlear implants work, and how your brain processes those signals into intelligible sounds.
When I go to the K&W cafeteria in Pineville, I noticed there was a hearing aid store right next door. Good marketing! It had been on my to do list for a while.
Partly motivated by Rush’s radio show, I decided to drop in without an appointment and say “Hello!”. I know and have known for a long amount of time that I have a significant hearing deficit. Part of the reason that I’m not still in Chicago is difficulty I had attending meetings with other people that worked on the product. It was frustrating to both them and me. Most of the work however, was me talking to people on the telephone handling support problems. Since you can crank up the volume on the telephone, the fact that you have a hearing loss can largely be worked around.
Hearing aids are almost never covered by insurance, but they are an acceptable expense from a health savings account (HSA). I fully funded my HSA this week.
After lunch today, I decided it was time to conquer my fears and go into the hearing aid place. I didn’t have an appointment, really all I expected was some literature and maybe make an appointment. The guy in the place went ahead however and gave me the full “treatment”.
I know from playing around on the Internet, I have absolutely no hearing above about 8 kHz. I also have more difficulty understanding women’s voices, especially if I can’t see their lips. Most of the time, the volume on my iPhone/iPad is cranked all the way up or very close to it. I recognize on my computer a point beyond which when I turn up the volume, it’s not any louder – but I’m confident it actually is getting louder – I just can’t hear it.
As he’s beginning to feel out my issues, he says something similar to something that Rush Limbaugh has said this week, and I asked him if he was following the story about Rush Limbaugh getting a second cochlear implant and talking about the experience on the radio.
A good salesman, at that point, would have asked to know what Rush been talking about and perhaps why it had motivated me to come into the Hearing Aid Store. Instead, the sales guy launched into a diatribe about how awful Rush Limbaugh is and how he and Howard Stern are just alike. Possibly to his surprise, I quickly agreed to him – this is something I’ve even written about myself.
With that reaction, a few times more during our conversation I brought up the name of Rush Limbaugh, and he kept going for the bait – including making the assertion that well Rush Limbaugh is probably gay – something I have speculated about in my own writings. So, he’s trying to talk me into buying a pair of hearing aids that probably by the time I’m done will end up being $6000. I have in my mind from prior research that $1500 a piece is probably a more reasonable range – maybe $2500 for two.
This guy had introduced himself as a Jewish (who cares?) guy from Long Island who used to sell clothing and married a Charlotte native 30 years ago. I was resist the impulse to spend $6000 on hearing aids based on his somewhat sketchy sales pitch – when the form in my hand includes the FDA section that says you can’t sell hearing aids to person without them visiting the doctor first – unless they waive the provision – which I explicitly told him I wanted to see a doctor first… So after all of that, he ended up getting huffy at me that i was wasting his time and maybe my not agreeing to his pressure might be because I have “issues”. More accurately he was wasting his time my trying textbook high pressure sales techniques.
Near the end, the subject of Bluetooth came up, and I mentioned that given the things I do, Bluetooth capability would be a feature I would be interested in paying extra for. He pretty much shut down the conversation at that point.
So, does anyone have experience and/or opinions about buying hearing aids? I’m also thinking, if I was in the hearing aid business – it would be a really great idea to advertise on Rush Limbaugh’s show – both because of Rush and the demographics of his aging listeners.
Beltone has a very interesting (and probably expensive) device with iPhone integration built in. You can control the settings of the hearing aid from the iPhone app, and hear the phone ring into your ear and have a phone call similar to having a Bluetooth headset, but integrated in the hearing aid. The benefits of two hearing aids are pretty obvious, whuch was one of the points Rush had made.