Summary: For two months I have tried to work with ReSound to fix an issue with its hearing aids’ interface/compatibility with Apple, which results in physical harm to people wearing ReSound’s Enzo 2 hearing aids. I have been stonewalled, blamed, and treated like I am stupid and should just accept whatever “kindness” they offer me. This attitude has been reinforced by a higher-up in the company, which explains ReSound’s disturbing and unacceptable attitudes and treatment of the hard-of-hearing and deaf communities, which they are supposed to serve. The issue is still an issue that no one has claimed responsibility for, even though reps have seen it in person. Refusing that it is an issue means they will never fix it. This means they are intentionally preying on people who have hearing loss that want to reclaim some of that loss with the use of their hearing aids. I apologize for the length, but below I have outlined the hearing aid issue, what has been tried, the poor treatment I have received (including the name of the higher-up in the company who believes he is “too good” to talk to people with hearing loss) and what needs to happen to resolve this issue. Because despite everything, I am still hoping ReSound wakes up and corrects the issue with the hearing aids, as well as addresses how they treat their customer base. Please take the time to read and share!
Last December, my audiologist strongly encouraged me to come into her office for a new hearing aid demo. The hearing aids: ReSound Enzo 2 hearing aids were supposed to be the best and newest of what technology in hearing aids and hearing aid devices had to offer. After only a few days into my demo however, I came across an apparent glitch. When I was using their streaming device, either for the TV or their “mini mic” the streaming would be interrupted whenever I used my phone. See the hearing aids have an interface and were designed specifically for iOS. That’s one of the things that are supposed to make them so special. I understand if I were to talk on the phone, make a call or receive a call streaming should be interrupted. But if I look at a text message, service is interrupted. Check email – service is interrupted. Open a game, internet browser or ANY OTHER app – service is interrupted.
I contacted my audiologist and she called ReSound on my behalf. Though I could only hear my audiologist’s end of the conversation, it didn’t sound like whoever she was talking to was being very helpful, or particularly cared. At first she said things like, “What do you mean that’s how they’re supposed to work?” which seemed to be ReSound’s first stance. Then that changed to a few suggestions. We tried all of those suggestions as soon as we got home, which including un-pairing the hearing aids to the phone and then re-pairing them, changing different settings etc. Nothing worked.
On Christmas day I went over to my brother-in-law’s house to celebrate with our family. There were a lot of people there, including a baby and two toddlers. Noisy doesn’t begin to describe it, but this is expected, which is why hearing aids have different programs and volume settings. I put the ReSound hearing aids in the “Restaurant” program to deal with all of the noise and then turned the volume way down. Unfortunately twenty minutes into these settings, I received a message (not a phone call) and suddenly was blasted with noise that felt like someone took a hammer to my ears and caused an instant migraine headache. I actually cried out in both surprise and pain. For some reason, the hearing aids’ program and volume settings had reverted back to the default settings. Why?
I thought it was a fluke so changed them back, but when I opened an app, it happened again, nearly bringing me down to the floor. I hadn’t gone out since I got them, so I wondered if the hearing aids’ program was simply not working. Instead of going back to restaurant mode, I simply turned the volume down, nearly all the way down. But when my husband borrowed my phone to look something up online – again the settings changed. Needless to say I stopped using my phone for anything and we ended up leaving a short time later, cutting the holiday short because I felt ill. All of those assaults on the hearing I had left had taken their toll on my body, specifically in the form of a giant-sized headache that I nursed for a few days after.
It quickly became obvious that as long as I used these new hearing aids, I had to disable Bluetooth in order to stop this hijacking glitch. I called consumer support, looked on forums, ReSound’s website and kept in touch with my audiologist about the issues and how serious they were. But ReSound was not very interested in anything I had to say. They quickly switched gears to insinuating that the problem was in my imagination. I felt like I was a woman diagnosed with hysteria 100 years ago. That is how they treated me. I was crazy. I was imagining things. I was the problem.
That tone didn’t change until I told my audiologist that because of ReSound’s response she needed to campaign on my behalf and let them know that this is not acceptable. But then their tone went from the problem being my imagination or desire to stir the pot for no reason, to my incompetence. I was using them wrong. I was too stupid to read plain English and know how to work my phone or these “special” hearing aids. No matter that I have had hearing loss all my life, and worked with hearing aids that have Bluetooth for years. I was still the problem.
When meeting with ReSound’s field audiologist for the second time I addressed these issues with her. She sounded confused as if she was hearing them for the first time. And if she was, since I had spent hours on the phone to their support, exchanged over a dozen messages with my audiologist who had also called on my behalf, and have a spouse do the same thing – this was troubling. I had to show her the issue, and I had no problem doing. Watch ReSound still say I was crazy after someone from their company saw it with their own eyes… Well then they just tried to blame my phone. But I told them I had already tried it on a number of devices including, but not limited to, another iPhone 5S, an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus (some of these devices brand-new). I also used devices that had different versions of the iOS (iOS 8 and iOS 9). It was not a phone issue and it was not a specific iOS issue. It also was not an issue with ReSound’s app as we cut out that “middle man” at the field audiologist’s (let’s call her A) suggestion. This proved the issue was not a figment of my imagination or something I was doing; it also proved it wasn’t an issue with the app, which left only one conclusion: the defect/glitch is in the hearing aids themselves, more specifically their software/interface and how they communicate with Apple.
After that meeting, nothing was done for weeks. A and some guy in IT made a total of two suggestions, unfortunately they were the same suggestions I already tried more than a month ago. In each instance when communicating with ReSound, they minimized the issue. Let me break it down for them. The hearing aids are dangerous and inflict bodily harm because of a glitch that is like autopilot going rogue. The only way to prevent this is to turn off Bluetooth. But then I am unable to use the phone, whether it be taking a call or making one. And this is the primary reason I would make the switch and get their hearing aids in the first place. There is no workaround for this. And trust me, I have made it clear that a workaround that actually works would be as acceptable as an actual fix. I am open-minded and want these to work, despite ReSound’s stance of not wanting them to work for me.
Last Tuesday I received an email from A, which again asked me to discuss the issue, and again minimized it by suggesting fixes that weren’t fixes (example suggestion: just turn Bluetooth on when you’re getting a call, it only takes a few seconds, response: no it takes at least 30 seconds for the hearing aids to connect once Bluetooth is swiped, but with Bluetooth off, I would have to be staring at my phone to know I was getting a call in the first place). I wrote back a very firm, yet polite response, which started, “I apologize if this email sounds curt, but I am frankly confused by the confusion surrounding the issue. I could understand not understanding why the problem is happening, or a solution right away, but I have been very clear for more than two months now, as to what the issue is.” Because I had been. I felt ReSound was intentionally taking me in circles in hopes of wearing me down. I don’t wear down that easily.
After that message (which my audiologist saw and approved, her words: “Send it,” so I know I was not out-of-line or harsh in any way) I didn’t hear back from anyone until Friday. That was when A wrote an email that strongly insinuated (says everyone who has seen the message) that ReSound is well aware of this issue and had no intentions of finding a fix for it.
I forwarded the message to her boss who had been included in the last few correspondences (by her at first, not me) and who my audiologist spoke highly of. He was in theory, completely for finding a solution, as long as that involved taking zero accountability and blaming Apple (the new scapegoat, I was finally cleared after months of “being the problem”). My email to him was 200 words, and below I asked him to review A’s perplexing email to me, which was a little longer than mine. I received a response back from him, Michael Shear, Regional Sales Manager for Arizona, Colorado and the Four Corners territory, in just five minutes. On the plus side, he got back to me. On the down side, there was little possibility his message was thoughtful or thought out at all. I have been very clear in all of my communications, both in my intentions “these hearing aids have the potential to be life-changing” “I desperately want to find a solution of some kind, whether it is an actual fix or a realistic workaround” and the issue “a potentially dangerous and harmful hazard”. I have my husband, a major pacifist and others who are not afraid to tell me to let something go, or water something down, read my messages because my goal is to have them be productive. Not seen as angry rants. Shear should have done the same.
My husband’s reaction (the pacifist who would rather let everything go) to his email was, “What an ***”. Shear denied everything A had said, essentially told me it was my problem and not to contact him again. How is that for helpful or productive? I would think that a Regional Sales Manager would know the first thing about communicating effectively and appropriately with the company’s customer base. But perhaps, that was setting standards a little too high.
My audiologist tried to say that his reaction may have been what it was because “typically they do not get involved” but perhaps that is part of the problem. So far, no one seems interested in listening to me, a hard-of-hearing individual. In fact, the company has treated me like sh**, something I told my audiologist. In all of my years of hearing aids, and the companies they have been manufactured by, I have never actually been talked down to or in the way that ReSound has communicated to me. They either are condescending and insult my intelligence, “Poor little deaf boy doesn’t know how to properly work the hearing aids” or dismissive and defensive (much more common), “Poor little deaf boy, you’ll take what little we give you and be happy. Now sit down, and shut up.” I will not.
I reached out to Michael Shear in hopes that he would want to find a solution. To date Mr. Shear has claimed they have “done everything” and yet cannot name a single thing they have done, except cast blame elsewhere. I find this very interesting… As such a higher up in sales, I would think improving the product he is selling would interest him. And I do not care if he is “too important” to be involved – that is part of the problem. I have been talked down to, talked at or left out of the conversation entirely, but doesn’t that seem a little silly when perhaps I am the one people should be talking with, since I’m the one who is experiencing said glitch? I guess logic and efficiency are not coveted with ReSound – at least that is exactly what Michael Shear has led me to believe.
Now I’m not writing this to rip ReSound a new one, I am hoping it reaches someone who wants to do the right thing – the thing that should have been done in the first place. It is not a phone issue, or an issue for any specific version of iOS, or an app issue or a hardware issue (I had the demo hearing aids and the conditional purchase hearing aids, completely different hardware in each). There is absolutely no way I am the only one who has encountered this problem. It’s not the most noticeable issue unless a person is streaming or in a noisy environment (anywhere in public, because these hearing aids are powerful). I can see a lot of people who simply don’t report the issue, as many people “don’t like to make waves”. But I hardly think I am the first who has ever reported it. If others have come forward, only to be treated the way I have been, I can see them giving up; either returning the hearing aids or of the belief that non-functional hearing aids are better than none. But this is absurd, and not right, and needs to stop. At best ReSound is falsely advertising their hearing aids, and grossly over-selling them, expecting the hard-of-hearing and deaf communities to pay small fortunes for something that is only halfway. And that is not okay; I see it as borderline-predatory.
So, here is what needs to happen:
- ReSound needs to openly acknowledge that this is a known issue and that they are working to fix it.
I am not one to have unrealistic expectations. I am not looking for a magic answer or a non-magical one for that matter, overnight. But ReSound will never find one if they refuse to look. I have offered to be a beta-tester, jump through any hoop, try any idea, which I think is mighty nice of me since I’m not being compensated and actually have a life.
- ReSound needs to take a serious and hard look at how they treat the hard-of-hearing and deaf communities.
I am not being dramatic or overstepping when I say that without us ReSound would be nothing. It’s a hearing aid manufacturer after all. So I would think that having positive relationships and interactions with people in those communities (as in all of your customers) would be high on ReSound’s list of priorities. I do not appreciate being treated as though I am crazy or stupid or simply making trouble for trouble’s sake. I am an educated and articulate individual who is on your side, if you’ll have me. If not, well, I am not shutting up.
- ReSound needs to be transparent to all of their customers: past, present and future.
If this glitch is as widespread as I think it is (there are numerous complaints with various agencies and on various sites about ReSound’s interface with Apple and its many issues) then ReSound needs to step up and let people know about it in advance. I’m sure many will still try and purchase the hearing aids because of the additional benefits, just as I am sure this admission will cost ReSound some business. But outright lying has its own set of consequences that I would think ReSound would hope to avoid.
I can be ReSound’s greatest ally, because I genuinely want these hearing aids to succeed, I want to use them without fear of harm, and I know that if they work as they should they would be life-changing for me and anyone else who had them… or I can be their greatest enemy. Not an enemy out of spite or because I wish the company to fall (I have no such delusions of grandeur), but because I am not going anywhere and I will not be silenced. It doesn’t matter what bullying and intimidation tactics or games ReSound wants to play.
I feel an obligation to let everyone know, for better or worse, exactly who ReSound is as a company and what they stand for, as well as the products they are peddling. Some at your company have relentlessly tried to keep me quiet (here is looking at you, Shear), but I guess the idealist in me is hoping that someone else, someone who matters in the company really wants to help those with hearing loss. That perhaps someone really does believe in what ReSound does – is supposed to do, and wants to have the best products on the market today. If such an individual or group of individuals exists, then I am appealing to you now. I would like to be your friend, please don’t make me anything but.
UPDATE I have tried to reach out to ReSound to share this letter on their Facebook page, on their official blog, and on Twitter. Unfortunately, they have to approve all such comments for them to show up, and you know they won’t. But I encourage everyone and anyone, whether you have hearing loss or not, to let them know this is not okay. Tweet them @resoundus with a link to this post or review them on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/gnresound/reviews. Look at the negative reviews. Other people are experiencing the EXACT same issue I am, as recently as this month and going back a year! How is that for imaginary?
UPDATE 3-2-2016 ReSound scheduled a call with me to discuss these issues on Monday, trying to quiet me and put on a good face. They canceled said call yesterday, lying and telling me once again that the issue was not an issue, and to just go away. Since then they have ignored all messages I have left them. Please don’t just do nothing. Write them, review them with 1-star (you don’t even have to write a review, just rate them) for their poor treatment of the hard-of-hearing and deaf communities. Let them know that the more they try to silence us, the louder we will become. I am not doing this for me, I am doing this because what they are doing is not right. Don’t let them get away with it!
Update 3-8-2016 Since posting my open letter nine days ago the following has happened:
- I was bullied on social media by someone who apparently works there. While ReSound says I cannot prove this, this person had an intimate knowledge that they shared as to how the hearing aids were designed. He told me to “go away” and called my letter “ranting”. When I told him he seemed to have a special expertise and insinuated that he worked there, I took a picture of his remarks, and it’s a good thing because they instantly disappeared.
- ReSound scheduled a phone call so I could speak with their product management department in hopes of explaining the issue and hoping they would acknowledge it and promise to work on it. That was it, just acknowledging it and working on it. The phone call was canceled and I was told my audiologist had a fix that could only be done in her office. My audiologist however emailed me to effectively tell me she was giving up and ReSound told her there was no problem and therefore no issue. This is clear proof that ReSound is intentionally playing us off each other like a kid whose parents just got a divorce. That would be the opposite of being genuinely invested on fixing this issue.
- After said call is canceled, I reach out to ReSound’s corporate office. Explaining my concerns, I am transferred to “the head of consumer relations” named Robert. We speak briefly and he promises to address my issues. For the next five days, Robert ignores my emails, so I cal him back. He hasn’t done anything and appears to be stringing me along. He refuses to tell me who he has reached out or when I can hear back. When I question if it will be this week, or even this month, he states, “I don’t know.” I think he does – he never intended to get back in touch.
- Baffled I call ReSound’s corporate office again later that day. I find out that Robert is not the “head of consumer relations” as it was explained to me. He is not even a supervisor in the customer service department, so I am transferred to his supervisor, Michelle. Michelle is openly hostile during the entire call and then screams at me out of the blue while I keep a civilized tone. What I said to cause such a vehement reaction, “What are product management’s hours?” (I was told they had left for the day, but it was not even 3:30pm central standard time, which is the time zone ReSound US’s headquarters is in. Her response which was the beginning of the end of speaking with her: “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THEIR HOURS ARE!”
ReSound’s product management team needs to stop playing games and contact me directly. The issue has nothing to do with my specific type of hearing loss of programming or settings on the hearing aids. One more time, it is a interface issue with Apple and the issue is on ReSound’s side. If they were really interested in figuring the issue out, they would reach out to person most well-versed and out-spoken about it, who has lived with it for months, done ample research on it, tried every possible workaround, spent hours on the phone with technical support etc. My audiologist has no idea as to what the issue is, what has been tried already, etc. I’m sorry if logic is not usually considered when making a product better or finding a fix to a known issue, but I’m afraid that without logic, the issue will never be addressed. And logically, I am the person to get in touch with. Something ReSound’s product management team seems to want to avoid at all costs. Why is that?