There are basically two types of hearing aids in today's marketplace. One is identified as a "Custom Made" product,available in different shell sizes, and the other is identified as "Standard","Conventional",or "BTE,(Behind the Ear, or Over the Ear).
Both types of hearing aids usually several different size hearing aid batteries. The Custom made products usually use either a size 10,size 13,or size 312 batteries. The battery Manufacturers, and there are very few of them, have all agreed on a standardized color coding to identify the battery size.All a Consumer has to know, Worldwide, is what color is the tab attached to one side of the battery. That color identifys the size of the battery, Worldwide.The bigger the battery, the longer the battery life. Usually the drain imposed on the battery determines what size battery the Hearing Aid Manufacturer will use for a particular hearing aid.
The procedure for making a Custom Made Hearing Aid is that an Impression is taken of the Client's Ear by first placing a cotton ball or a sponge rubber plug into the ear canal as far as it will go, including touching the ear drum (Typanic Membrane).The Ear Drum is usually at least 1" from the entrance to the Ear Canal. All Dispensers first examine the ear canal with a device called an autoscope (which is a powerful light) to determine whether there is a blockage, usually ear wax (cerumen) or any evidence of ear disease or infection. Without exception, if anything negative or suspicious,or unusual,is observed, the Client is immediatedly referred to a Medical Doctor. Everything comes to a halt.
If there is no problem, potential or real, observed, after the cotton ball is inserted, the Dispenser mixes a solution, which may be a silcone material, or some other material, (years ago, they used Plaster of Paris),and through a syringe of some type, the impression material is inserted into the ear canal. Such material usually takes from five to ten minutes to cure and harden.
The result of this process is the production of what is called an "Impression".
The Impression, with an assigned name, is sent to a Lab or Hearing Aid Manufacturer, and a Mold is made from the respective Impression. A Plastic shell for a Custom Made hearing aid is then made from the mold, or a product is made called an "Earmold" is made from the Impression. An Earmold is used with a Standard,BTE, (Behind-The-Ear) hearing aid.
If it is a Custom Made Hearing Aid, the finished shell is then matched with what is called a "Faceplate". Usually the Faceplate has most of the Electronics attached to the Faceplate. The microphone,or microphones,are always attached to the faceplate, as is the amplifier. The Receiver (Speaker) is connected by a wire from the amplifier, and is placed in the far end of the canal part of the shell.
A Custom made hearing aid can be repaired forever. If the hearing loss changes, a new circuit with a new Faceplate can be installed. A Custom made hearing aid with an Analog Circuit can even be up-graded to a Digital product by simply replacing the Faceplate.
Most Hearing Aid Dispensers do not want the Consumers to know that a Custom Made hearing aid can be repaired,and upgraded,and converted, forever.
It is a lot less expensive to repair or upgrade a hearing aid than to buy what is called a New Hearing Aid. Any Custom Made Hearing Aid ever made, can be repaired or upgraded.For obvious reasons, not every Manufacturer wants to provide the above described services. But some Manufacturers will, such as Starkey Labs, which operates a Division called All Make Repairs, which will repair,remake,upgrade,etc, any Custom Made Hearing Aid, ever made. They have repaired hearing aids over 25 years old.Their work has the same guarantee as a brand new hearing aid.Any Hearing Aid Office, anywhere in the United States, regardless of their ownership or affiliation, can do business with Starkey, and offer all of the services described.
A hearing loss change, or a physical fit change, is usually the excuse used to recommend the sale of a new hearing aid. Dispensers, because of the profit motive, do not offer, or want the Consumer to know, what their options are. The fact is, that its a lot less expensive to repair, upgrade, or remake, an existing hearing aid, than to buy a new one.
Understand, that a Hearing Aid Office, is not under any legal obligation to provide a hearing aid warranty on any work they perform. The Market, and the Courts, determine the Standards of Performance.
A Hearing Aid Office is entitled to charge any amount they want for any service they perform, and it is the responsibility of the Consumer to challenge the practices and policies of any business they transact business with. Usually unethical, immoral, or illegal business practices, result in a business going out of business or being arrested.
A Hearing Aid Office does not have to send a hearing aid to a Repair Lab or a Hearing Aid Manufacturer, to justify a repair of service charge. It is up to the Consumer to demand that their malfunctioning hearing aid be returned to the original manufacturer, or at least be informed of their options of having the hearing aid repaired by an Independent Repair Lab. The Consumer, should demand a Warranty, which is recognized and honored nationwide, by all other Hearing Aid Dispensers.The provided Warranty should be thorough and explicit, and explain what is covered, and what is not covered.
Usually.a Warranty Card of some type is provided with the invoice revealing an explanation of what the repair consisted of.
The next section will pertain to the prices charged,the options available, and what the Warranties represent.