Saturday, March 22, 2008

Unleash the Fury!

I was so upset yesterday afternoon and just have to tell the story. If it bores you, I apologize in advance.

It all stared in November-December of 2006 when I went to my local hearing center to purchase two new hearing aids using the pay-out I received on a Public Employees Retirement Account I had while working for the Department of Corrections. My old aids were about 5 years old and showing their age. I thought, this was a rare opportunity (never in my life have I had this kind of money at my disposal) to assure myself the best, highest quality of hearing available, given my degree of loss. After much deliberation, and about 4 hearing aid trials later, I settled on two different models of Siemens aids. A fully programmable digital version for my left ear which has slightly better hearing than my right, which got a digital analog aid (not programmable). The total bill was...$3400. The aids came with a one year limited warranty and a 90 day trial period. For starters, I cannot tell you how many times I was in to the hearing center to have both of the aids adjusted when I got them. I just know that I couldn't compute the total by counting on two hands. I especially had problems with my right aid because the compartment that holds the battery and provides contact between said battery and the circuitry that allows me to hear wouldn't stay shut, thus making the hearing aid cut in & out. This problem was noted numerous times and the audiologist and a hearing aid technician have tried to fix it a few times, without success.

Guess what happened last week? Go on, I bet you can guess...Yep, the right aid broke as in it totally stopped working on Monday! I know it has something to do with the lack of contact between the battery and the circuit. Anyway, I called and tried to get in to see the hearing aid technician. The earliest appointment they had was yesterday afternoon. I piled the girls into the Subaru and drove the 30 minutes to the office. When we arrived, the technician took my hearing aid into the workroom to take a look at it and try to repair it to working order. About ten minutes later, she returns to tell me that she cannot get it to power on. Not only that, but in order to get it fixed, I would have to spend $240 to send it to the Siemens repair factory for them to look at. I have to pay because it's out of warranty. Just out of the warranty mind you, because every time I had a problem, the warranty "renewed" from that day, so it had only expired at the end of January.

You can imagine how upset I was upon hearing this. True, I should have known about the warranty but, I figured given my history of problems with this aid, that the repairs would've been done without cost. Nope, no can do. The technician said that she could talk to the owner to see if the cost could be discounted, but couldn't guarantee it. Excuse me?! I just brought $3400 worth of products from you and you can't cut me a break? That was the first thing that set me off. Then, I come to find out, that if it's the circuit board on the hearing aid, Siemens may or may not even fix it since it's expensive and about 80% of the cost of the aid. Usually, when it's something that major, they just return the aid and tell the customer to get a new one.

Whoa, hold on! I just bought this aid a little over a year ago and it might be broken beyond help already. Can anyone scream--LEMON?! My goodness, you'd think for $1700, that it would last a tad bit longer than 15 months! Oh, I was infuriated and felt like I got ripped off by Siemens. And this is supposedly a reputable company that has been in business for years. In my opinion, something as expensive as this hearing aid, should have come with more than a year warranty, but that's a whole other can of worms. After feeling bad for getting emotionally upset at the technician, I realized that it wasn't her fault, except for selling me a piece of junk, and that I needed to direct my anger at who was at fault.

I requested and promptly (I think she was scared of me at that point) received the customer service number for Siemens corporate and fully intended to unleash my fury upon them. Unfortunately, I did not return home until 4 o'clock MST and unfortunately, the corporate office is located in New Jersey. Lucky for them, because I had a few choice words to say, to say the least. Now, I have to wait until Monday and in the meantime, I will be gathering up documentation of how many visits I've had, the serial number for my hearing aid, etc. I will be armed and ready and probably a little bit calmer. My goal, you might ask? To get a verbal apology for selling me a piece of junk, possibly getting the repairs done for free and maybe, just maybe, a discount on a new aid, if it comes to that. I will not rest until I feel satisfied that they understand how upset I am. Do not sell me junk, I just won't have it! The little bit o' Irish in me can go a long way!

Oh yeah, and due to my hearing aid being non-functional, I have not been able to fully hear for almost a week now and by the time I come up with the money to have it sent in, it will be 3-4 weeks minimum before I can hear fully again. This is so very frustrating when I'm supposed to function as a wife and a parent. It's hard enough wearing aids, because of their limits, now add insult to injury by only having one "working" ear. It sums up to pure misery...


Judy said...

Oh, Laura - that's horrible! I can see exactly why you were so upset...rightfully so! Keep us posted on the conversation. I'll have to find out from my aunt and grandmother what their hearing aid brand is. Maybe we can start a boycott!

Lyla said...

:( Oh man, that bites! I hope that they fix your hearing aid. Really, they should be REPLACING your aid.

I had fun yesterday! Your little girls are super cute. I don't like little kids, but I like yours. :)

Anonymous said...

You have a perfect right to be upset...from everything you listed that went wrong and the fact that it is something you need to be functionable where hearing is concerned...I can't believe how unhelpful Siemens was/is.

I think you should get better service than they are giving you and I hope your follow-up with them will get you that better service.



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