Don't get locked out

Don’t Get Locked Out

In Hearing Aid Technology, hearing aids by Candace Wawra

Candace Wawra
Latest posts by Candace Wawra (see all)

We take great pride in being an independent hearing aid dispenser who works with all major brands. It allows us the freedom to offer a greater variety of products to our patients which, in turn, provides for more options in features and pricing. It also allows us to do repair and maintenance work on all brands regardless of whether the hearing aids were purchased here or not. Occasionally, however, we encounter a situation that is frustrating for both us and potential patients, and that is when a hearing aid is brought in for a repair or adjustment and we are unable to do anything at all to help because the hearing aid is locked. This is a potential situation that many are unaware of and lately we have been seeing more of it in our office. We feel it is important to educate our patients and other potential buyers about locked hearing aids, how to recognize whether a hearing aid is locked, and offer tips when it comes to shopping around for hearing products and providers.

To begin, a locked hearing aid means the software in the hearing aid is proprietary, meaning it is owned solely by a single manufacturer, sold by a certain franchise, and can only be serviced by that franchise after it is sold. You cannot just take your hearing aids wherever you would like for service because no one else can own the software essential for most repairs and all adjustments. This may never be a problem, or it could turn into a huge problem. What if the office shuts down or you move? Maybe you live somewhere else in the winter, you may not be able to get your hearing aids serviced if you have a problem. If you decide that you are getting unsatisfactory service where you bought your hearing aids and want to change to another specialist who can better meet your needs, you can’t.

This is a scenario that can easily happen to any honest buyer simply looking for a good product to fit their needs at the best possible price. However, you would not want a hearing aid that outlives the local facility where it was bought, and, unfortunately, it does happen. You will typically find locked hearing aids at big box and franchise stores, as well as individual stores that only work with one or very few brands of hearing aids. These dispensers are not required to tell prospective buyers outright that they are selling a locked hearing aid. Therefore, it is always a good idea to simply ask up front and find out as much information as possible on warranty information, service agreements, and any stipulations that will go into effect once the sale has been made.

In a market that can be overwhelming to navigate in the first place, the thought of having limitations on who can service the purchase as time passes and change occurs (for both buyer and seller) may not even come to mind when making the initial purchase. While we do not wish to put those companies who do sell locked hearing aids in a negative light, we have simply been encountering this issue often lately and would like to address it to help anyone else who may be in the market for hearing aids. It may not be ideal for everyone and we are simply trying to educate people on the different types of hearing aids and the services they may get with them. It is our choice to only sell unlocked hearing aids in Springfield, MO through our business. We are convinced that you will be happy enough with our services and prices to not have to look elsewhere for repairs and follow up care. However, if you move away or if you are unable to make it to our office, we have no proprietary software rights within our hearing aids. Any professional who chooses to have your product brand’s software will be able service your hearing aid. For anybody who has any questions or concerns regarding this topic, our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM. Feel free to call us at 417-887-8499 or contact us at for more information.