Walmart has been advertising the Hearing Assist HA-802 rechargeable hearing aid in Central Florida. To be clear, these aids are not sold at local Walmart stores in Florida but you can order them online from Walmart.com. In some states such as Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and a few others you can purchase them in the store. For the purpose of this review I ordered mine from Walmart.com but I also found them on Amazon and I could have ordered them directly from Hearing Assist LLC, the manufacturer. Like many brand name aids, these are also assembled in China with globally sourced parts. Hearing Assist is a U.S. company so customer service and management are based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
I have been an audiologist for 45 years and worn hearing aids for 25 years. These direct to the consumer models are a new concept that bypasses Doctor of Audiology services with smart phone apps that allow the customer to screen their own hearing and then adjust the aids accordingly. Sometime this year the FDA will define what an over the counter hearing aid is and how it should be sold.
My Walmart package contained two rechargeable behind the ear hearing aids, a charger, and a selection of different sized end caps. The end caps are the part of the aid that goes inside the ear canal. The instructions were easy to read so downloading the app and activating the hearing aids was simple.
These aids are large compared to the ones I have previously worn; however, they did hide behind my ears fairly well. The end caps were too large for my ear so I had to replace them with smaller versions from one of my labs.
The sound quality from these aids was good in quiet situations. In noisy environments, such as when riding in the car with the heater fan blowing, this HA-802 model would sample the noise for about 10 seconds and then reduce volume automatically. They held a charge as advertised and gave a full long day of better hearing. I have a mild loss in my left ear and a moderate loss in my right. I had to turn the volume up to 80% or more in my worse ear. Obviously, these aids were designed for people with no more than mild to moderate hearing losses.
I especially liked the app. It was easy to navigate and control the sound of the aids. One thing I definitely appreciated was the ability to use the app to screen my hearing before I bought the aids. Some manufacturers require that you purchase aids before you can test your hearing. When testing your hearing with this app make sure that you are in a very quiet room and use ear phones that completely seal your ear canal or you may have poor validity.
Customer service was efficient. I was impressed that one of the owners was willing to chat with me. I talked to an employee named Kathleen on several occasions. She was very kind and helpful. Their online chat service was responsive, answered my questions and followed through with my requests.
These aids are not for everyone! Before you order I recommend that you have your family doctor look in your ear canals to make sure there is no ear wax that would cause you to be dissatisfied with the product. And of course, you should ask your doctor to do a hearing test as it will be more accurate than the one performed by the app. A doctor’s exam might also identify a medically treatable hearing loss.
If you suffer from a mild to moderate hearing loss that cannot be corrected with medical treatment, these hearing aids would be a good value at $599 a pair.