California Attorney General Bonta issues consumer alert on hearing aids sold online or over the counter

Aug 5, 2021 – OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Wednesday issued a consumer alert warning Californians to exercise caution when purchasing hearing aids intended directly for consumers, such as hearing aids, over the counter or online. With the growing popularity, availability and confusion of these products, the Attorney General is urging the public to educate themselves about their options and consider whether a hearing aid sold online or over the counter, rather than prescribed by a doctor, will solve their needs.

“Health care costs can add up, which is why many of us are looking for more affordable options that make sense for our families.” said Attorney General Bonta. “Although hearing aids sold online or over the counter may seem like more cost effective than traditional hearing aids, they may not meet your specific hearing loss needs well or may be a complete rip off. When exploring your options, know your rights, beware of misrepresentation, and exercise caution if you choose to buy from an unlicensed seller.

While federal administrators draft regulations for over-the-counter hearing aids, California law requires all hearing aid sellers, including online and over-the-counter sellers, to be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs. ‘Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Council of Hearing Aid Distributors. Please consider the following points before purchasing an over-the-counter hearing aid from an online or over-the-counter seller:

  • Get examined by a licensed hearing care professional. Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors, from a simple buildup of earwax to more serious complications. While online or app-based hearing tests can be convenient, they may not detect individualized or severe hearing loss issues. If you need a hearing aid, a licensed hearing care professional authorized to test your hearing can prescribe one that suits your needs or refer you to someone who can, including an authorized vendor of on-sale devices. free. You should know that some over-the-counter devices are limited in their ability to precisely adjust your specific needs.
  • Beware of misleading claims. Over-the-counter hearing aids are designed to treat mild to moderate hearing loss and may not be able to treat severe hearing loss. Hearing aids advertised as “FDA Registered” are not necessarily “FDA Approved”. “FDA Registered” simply means that the company has registered with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and does not mean that the FDA has reviewed or approved a specific product. The FDA recently issued cease and desist notices to companies advertising their products as “FDA registered”.
  • Know your rights: If you are not satisfied with your hearing aids, California law (Civil Code Section 1793.02) allows you to return them within 45 days of receipt for a full refund or exchange at no additional charge. The seller must provide you with a written statement with this information and the expiration date of the return period. If a seller offers a longer return period, they must honor it.

Audiologists and hearing-aid acousticians are licensed by the Council of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Distributors. For more resources regarding hearing loss, to search for a license, or to file a complaint against a hearing aid supplier, visit www.speechandhearing.ca.gov.

If you believe you purchased an over-the-counter hearing aid from a company that has misrepresented their claims, please file a complaint atwww.oag.ca.gov/report.

Today’s consumer alert was issued by the Health Care Rights and Access Section (HRA) of the California Department of Justice. HRA works proactively to increase and protect the affordability, accessibility, and quality of healthcare in California. HRA attorneys monitor and contribute to various areas of the Attorney General’s health work, including consumer rights; anti-competitive consolidation in the healthcare market; price of anti-competitive drugs; not-for-profit health care transactions; confidentiality issues; civil rights, such as reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights related to health care; and public health work on tobacco, electronic cigarettes and other products.
Source: CA. MJ

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