Golden Discounts

I am convinced that the second part of your life begins the minute you notice an antacid commercial on television. Hair growth products and Metamusil are probably close seconds. Could it really be that I am approaching the time of golden age discounts and a subscription to Modern Maturity? Alas, there seems to be only two options; fight gravity and enrich the coffers of plastic surgeons or surrender gracefully to the wisdom and wealth of the grayer years. (Well, there was wealth once upon a high tech time.) For the present, I am following the latter course, hair color and workout video firmly in hand. However, before I fall squarely in the lap of Ensure there is a little something this aging flower child would like fixed.

The American Association of Retired Persons is a great organization that has done much to advance the quality of life for mature citizens in our nation. They provide many services as well as being a political advocate for older citizens who too often in the past were ignored and poorly treated. However, even good organizations need a little course correction now and then. So I want to tell you a little story that I hope my AARP readers will take to heart and remedy.

Several years ago, my mother found herself in that uncomfortable situation common to many where her ability to hear distinctly was diminishing. It wasn't until our conversations reached loudspeaker levels that we convinced her that the time for a hearing device had come. Capitulation was quickly followed by sticker shock. My dear mother, Dominixtrix of all she surveys--us, would not hear of anyone helping her with the expense. After we received the audiologist's report, she decided she would wait until she could find one at the "right price." "Oh," I lamented, "another year of shouting."

Several weeks later, she announced that she had seen an advertisement for reasonably priced hearing aids in a small Georgia rural circular. "Mother, you can't buy something like a hearing aid through the mail. Suppose it doesn't work? " Soon, I was looking over the catalogue and even skeptical I had to admit that the prices, one half of those quoted in Hendersonville on similar models were hard to resist. "Mother, who is going to make the ear mold?"

Well, it wasn't that hard. Actually I was rather proud of the perfect little mold that emerged after carefully patting the gel into place and patiently waiting a short time for it to dry. I packed it in the provided box along with the audiologist report and a check for $425.00 and sent it off. "Will we ever see that money again?"

In a few weeks, here came a brand new custom built Insertina model hearing aid with a 45 day trial period and guaranteed for one full year from Better Hearing in Brookport, Illinois. (1-800-799-4327) It worked beautifully. Mother was joyous. So were we. Five years later, it is still working.

Naturally, we wanted to share this positive experience with others. So, shortly after receiving the aid, I decided to call the company, track down the owner and find out why they didn't advertise in a magazine like Modern Maturity so that lots of folks could make them an option. Here is the reply I got from exceedingly polite David Rhodes who inherited the 50 year old business from his father, Halford Rhodes, who, by the way, is still going strong, "Well, we would like to, but AARP won't allow mail order hearing aid companies to advertise. This doesn't seem wise to us since we have to follow the same rules as any walk-in hearing aid business. In fact we have a walk-in business ourselves… It might have to do with the fact that they have a contract with a major hearing aid company." "What!"

"You mean to tell me that an organization that is dedicated to helping older citizens, many of whom are on fixed incomes, won't let you advertise a needed guaranteed product that is affordably priced?" "That's right."

I recently phoned Mr. Rhodes to get an update on the new digital hearing aids and to see if things had changed over at AARP. He wasn't sure about AARP since Better Hearing is doing pretty well using smaller circulars and references of satisfied customers. As anyone who reads this column on a regular basis knows that how many he sells is not the point. The point is there is something that needs to be fixed and I hope my friends at AARP will give the folks in Washington a little nudge.

Why? Well, I think David Rhodes said it best. "Freedom is about the freedom to choose. Seniors shouldn't be pressured to buy something locally or by mail in the interest of protecting the trade. If they really had the interests of seniors at heart, they would give them a competitive choice."

To my readers: If you ever wonder if I get comments on these columns, I do occasionally. What are your thoughts on the matter?
Email Eva

*The opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions, Inc.
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