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Online Shopping for hearing aids could land you in jail

10:20 PM, Oct 8, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Recently a number of companies have started selling hearing amplification devices online.

For under 10 dollars, you can get a set of hearing aids on the internet.

The problem is it's illegal in the state of Florida to buy them online.

"People will say I can hear just fine, I just don't understand everything that's being said," said Hearing Aid Specialist Alan Kelso.

He says hearing loss is isolating.

"People don't go out to the restaurants, they don't go to church or synagogue. They're simply not there anymore because they can't understand what's being said," he said.

But along with isolating, it's also expensive.

Hearing aids can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars per unit.

"I wear hearing aids for a hearing loss, and my hearing aids were not inexpensive," he said.

So many online companies have started selling cheaper replacements online.

How steep is the discount?

FCN found amplifiers for less than $8.

"People are turning to the internet trying to find something that they think will be affordable," he said.

In the past few months, Kelso has seen an uptick in clients who tried the cheaper versions and found they just don't work.

"It's no more than taking an amp and sticking it in your ear," he said.

But it's not just the quality that's a question.

In Florida, it's illegal to buy hearing aids online. A second degree misdemeanor that could land you in jail for up to 6 months.

"It's illegal to do it online, it's illegal to do it through mail order, and there's a reason for that," he said.

Kelso says an ill fitting aid can cause long-term damage.

Many of the websites selling the devices say they are proven to be safe.

"You get what you pay for," he said.  

The Department of Health says no one has ever been prosecuted for buying hearing aids online, but they have sent cease and desist letters to companies who have tried to sell the amplification devices.

First Coast News

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