Man's expensive hearing aid has disappointing results

April 30, 2010 7:41:05 PM PDT
Hearing aids are very expensive but it can be difficult to find devices that restore hearing. One Bay Area man found out the hard way; he was out $6,000.

Without his hearing aids on, Shubert Yee can't hear his wife saying good morning, so she writes out her greeting instead.

Even with his hearing aids, Yee gets fuzzy sounds.

"It's loud enough, but the clarity is not there," he said.

He says it's because he spent years in the Air Force with jet engines blasting in his ears.

Now he's always on the lookout for something to restore his hearing.

"I can't go to the movies anymore because I can't hear that well...I can't listen to music anymore," he said.

That's why a mailer caught his eye. McDonald Hearing Aid Center in Santa Rosa was offering high tech nano chip hearing aids for just $689 -- a fraction of the usual prices.

Yee hurried in.

"When I got up there they said, 'Well the hearing aid, the one had advertised, is not quite for you. However, we got another one,'" Yee said.

That other one cost 10 times as much -- $2,995 for each ear, about $6,000 in all.

"At first I thought maybe it was a bait and switch; I figured as long as it helped me, I don't care what the prices are," Yee said.

So Yee paid the money and took them home, but he still couldn't hear well.

"It's no better than the one I have," he said.

He brought them back for adjustment three times, and then McDonald told him one device was corroded, could not be repaired and it was Yee's fault.

"I never done anything to it, I only wore it for three weeks under normal conditions," Yee said.

The hearing aids were under warranty for three years and his 30-day trial period was still running, but McDonald would not give him a refund.

Yee called 7 On Your Side and we contacted McDonald. It turns out the store has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau.

However, the company said it would look into Yee's case and within days agreed to refund his money after all.

General Manager Tom Bosch said, "We satisfactorily resolved this case with Mr. Yee. We're proud of our service in Santa Rosa. We have over 1,000 customers and 80 percent of our sales are from products advertised in the newspaper."

And Yee is back to his old hearing aids,

"I'm really glad; I'm really grateful to 7 On Your Side for that," he said.

Bosch says the McDonald Hearing Aid Center in Santa Rosa is no longer a part of the larger McDonald chain. It's now owned by King Hearing Aids of California and Florida. The dispenser at the store is licensed by the state. If you buy hearing aids, make sure yours is too.


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