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After 50+ years of FDA regulation, hearing aids are about to leap into consumer technology. In the Summer of 2022, the FDA released a long-awaited ruling that minted a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids.
The FDA's goal was to increase access and decrease the $4,500 national average cost for a pair of hearing aids.
Best Buy was one of the first major retailers to announce a serious effort to bring OTC hearing aids to their customers online and in-store. T
he move makes sense because of Best Buy's long-time leadership position as a technology + customer service brand. In 2002 the 40-year-old retailer purchased Geek Squad, which has become an iconic service provider for older adults with tech needs.
Starting in October, Best Buy plans to make OTC hearing aids available through an online shop and in over 300 physical stores around the country. I had a chance to catch up with their team to learn more about their plans. Here’s what I learned.
Hearing Aids Are Coming to Best Buy | What You Should Know
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Which brands of hearing aids does Best Buy plan to sell?
Best Buy will have a hearing experience in nearly 300 stores starting mid-October, where customers can find a handful of OTC hearing aids and PSAPs. The retailer will also have TV amplification devices and an expanded selection of OTC hearing aids and PSAPs on BestBuy.com.
At the time of this writing, the OTC section of BestBuy.com features Eargo, Lexie, NuHeara, Lucid, Hearing Assist, behear, and Sennheiser. Expect Jabra, Sony, and others to join once OTC officially rolls out.
You can explore the latest in Best Buy's hearing section here. Most Best Buy brands will also be available directly to consumers through each brand's website.
Will Best Buy Sell PSAPS or Just OTC Hearing Aids?
Best Buy plans to sell both PSAPS (less customized and less regulated), and OTC hearing aids. PSAPs are less expensive and give less customization, and benefit in background noise. Some customers feel that PSAPs are good enough in simple situations like TV watching or quiet conversations. I'm not a fan of most PSAPs since they don't do much to customize to each wearer's unique hearing loss.
It's worth noting that Best Buy includes TV headphones in the PSAP category of their shop. TV headphones have unique benefits like personalized volume control which have little to do with specific hearing aid-wearing needs.
Can someone at Best Buy help me choose a product?
This is where things get interesting. As consumer options expand, hearing aid wearers will have questions, and access to a doctor won't be readily available in a new retail environment.
Best Buy is hoping to close the gap in stores.
According to Best Buy's corporate team, store associates will train on topics like the ear's anatomy, hearing loss stages, general fitting techniques, and different features of various devices and brands.
Best Buy has worked with its team of expert vendors, many of whom are leaders in the hearing device category, to ensure these employees feel confident in their recommendations. Training thousands of employees is no small task, so I recommend getting smart on available products and styles before heading to the store.
Best Buy will only carry products for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. People with severe or profound hearing loss should see a local ENT or audiologist.
How can I find a local Best Buy with hearing aids?
Today you can select a hearing device at BestBuy.com and search for pickup locations near you.
Best Buy says they are working to roll out a store locator feature that can help customers identify which stores have the full hearing experience.
Are Best Buy hearing aids good?
The not-so-simple answer is it depends.
Best Buy will carry a wide variety of products, from PSAPs to OTC hearing aids. We suggest doing some research before you walk into the store. We also suggest that shoppers choose a brand with a credible background in technology and customer care.
Remember that although you might purchase your hearing aids from Best Buy, all customer care and consultation will happen directly with the original brand.
So what are the best hearing aid brands at Best Buy? That probably depends on your goals and budget, but I'm a fan of Lexie's Bose product, Eargo's invisible product, and Lucid's behind-the-ear style product.
If you've tried shopping for hearing aids at Best Buy, we'd love to hear more about your experience—send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org