For several weeks, but in particular the last ten days, I have been consumed. I feel drained, exhausted, both mentally and physically, frustrated and like I am in a constant state of shock.
Last week I wrote an open letter to ReSound after I had been trying to bring a dangerous technical issue to their attention since mid-December. If that wasn’t reason enough to demand action, ever since then (December) I have been stonewalled by the people I have tried to reach out to at ReSound. I have been treated like I was crazy and “imagining things” and ignored until I demonstrated the glitch in person. Then they turned around and made it my fault. I was too stupid to use their products correctly. I didn’t understand how to read. So rarely have I been treated like a moron because of my hearing loss, but it has happened… but it coming from someone in the “hearing solutions” industry… no that was a first.
After doing some easy research, and some less-easy research, two things became clear to me. One: Despite ReSound swearing this issue is new and I am the FIRST and yaddy yaddy yada, a lot of people have actually complained about very similar, possibly the exact same, things. Two: Anyone who has ever had any issues with ReSound’s hearing aids and tried to reach out to them, but ReSound could not find any easy immediate fix… the person inquiring became the problem. “ReSound doesn’t care” “Customer Service, what a joke!” “Refused to acknowledge the problem” are recurring themes and statements in reviews, on forums, in social media, on iTunes and actual Consumer Affairs complaints. How can a company whose entire customer base is made up of people with hearing loss, treat people with hearing loss like crap? How is that even remotely acceptable? Seriously, how?
Upon posting my open letter, ReSound was quick to respond. They said they wanted to talk to me (which is a first because everyone so far has tried to demand they work with me through my audiologist who does not understand the technology and having her in the middle is confusing everything. It doesn’t help that they play us off each other, like a child with newly divorced parents) and try to resolve the issue. They made plans to call me last Wednesday. I even moved some things around to make sure it happened. Then the very next day (Tuesday) they messaged me on Facebook to tell me they would not be calling me.
“After thoroughly researching this internally, and speaking with your audiologist, we believe that there is an adjustment she can make at your next appointment that will correct the issue you’ve experienced. This is not a correction that can be made outside of that appointment.”
However my audiologist knows of no such adjustment, and unfortunately for them, she had emailed me just moments before I received their message. I told them that was unacceptable. They need to speak with me to correct the issue. Guess what? They ignored me. They read my messages (yeah you can see when someone reads your message on Facebook) and just refused to respond. Wednesday came and went and nothing.
Since posting my open letter someone from ReSound has even bullied me on Facebook telling me to “stop ranting” and go get a different hearing aid. This person seemed to know a lot about ReSound and their hearing aids so I said, “Unless you work for ReSound, I do not understand what expertise you think you have in knowing my issues (without reading, since I used that very example). And if you do work for ReSound, well I don’t see how your comments would be a smart move for the company to make.”
Of course, within moments of posting that response this person’s comments (on an obviously, just-made-in-haste Facebook profile) disappeared. Of course, I grabbed screen shots so I still have evidence of them, even though no one else can see them.
I am not trying to get anything for myself. I am trying to make a company address a known issue and work on a fix for it. They don’t have to promise a fix for it. They don’t have to give a timeline, just admit it and work on it. That’s it. And then there is the issue of how they treat their customer base. This is probably a more complex problem to solve and it will be a process, but I am aware of that. But first thing is first – no more, “Talk to your audiologist and don’t contact us unless it is through her” nonsense. Because I am sorry – that’s just stupid.
Despite my intentions being pure (again I am not trying to get anything for myself, and I am trying work with ReSound to resolve the issues, not just rant and complain) I feel alone in this. Many people have expressed support in what I’m doing. But they haven’t done anything themselves. I’ve asked people to message or contact ReSound or others who would be interested in this. I have asked people to rate/review them accordingly, because they do seem to care about that. I have asked others to stand with me… and I still feel like I’m standing alone.
I know people are busy. I know this isn’t their fight (all of my friends who are hard of hearing do not use ReSound hearing aids, so yeah) but for me this is about right and wrong. You don’t have to be in the middle of it to know that treating hard of hearing people like they are stupid or less than human or like they should just shut up and go away… that’s not right. And it should not be tolerated. There is nothing to complicate or blur this position on this issue. It. Is. Not. Acceptable.
And yet I already feel the toll this is taking. Sleep, stress, time, other things falling by the wayside that I really can’t/shouldn’t be putting off. And then there’s the personal ramifications. One person in my life isn’t listening to me, which is so frustrating as she is not hard of hearing. She thinks I’m just “over-simplifying” things and keeps going on about all of the variables at play, but how do variables suddenly make it all right to treat hard of hearing people like they’re stupid or worthless? What variable please, because I have wasted so much time thinking what could make what they’re doing okay and I’ve got nothing to show for all of this think-time. I think she thinks I am just exaggerating or that my expectations are “too high”. But how is acknowledging a known issue and working on a fix for it in hopes of finding one someday, too high of expectations? Are you kidding me?
On Wednesday, I reached out to someone else in the company and dared hope that maybe I was finally getting somewhere. I’m not saying that I’m not… but I haven’t heard anything back from him. And I still have not lost hope, but this is ReSound’s pattern to date: Act like they care in initial correspondence to temporarily shut me up and then A) ignore me, and B) tell me to talk to my audiologist when I make it apparent that I will not be ignored. So I want to believe in him. I want to have news to share (oh, I promise to update with even the slightest tidbit of information) but this has been going on almost three months. And being a rational, logical person I see the patterns and just have to hope they are not still repeating themselves.
A few nights ago, in the car, thinking about this person and if they would still be in life once the dust settled and whatever happens, happens, I said to my husband, “Am I doing the right thing? Should I just walk away or drop it or accept that something is better than nothing?”
And he replied, “Ever since I’ve known you, you have fought for people who aren’t being heard. If you see someone doing something wrong to someone else, you get involved. Whether it’s a group or a single person. Not a lot of people would do that. You’re a champion [I groaned at this and rolled my eyes]. What if no one like you ever spoke up? You’re helping a lot of people, even if it costs you sleep, stress or relationships. That’s one of the reasons I love you so much.”
But you know what, being that person sometimes really REALLY sucks. Because right now I’m just one voice. One person. And while it takes one person to start something, you need more than one person to make it hold, gain momentum and actually get what’s right – done. And so far, I’m feeling mighty lonely.
Update The person I spoke to at ReSound and mentioned in this post was worse than a dead end. 1) He is not head of Consumer Relations, my call was merely fielded to a different customer service rep. 2) He ignored multiple emails from me, simply asking him to check-in with or without and update. Since transparency has been a big deal and this is the pattern, etc. I was ignored for days, so I finally called him… 3) I found him to be very indifferent and insincere on the phone. He claimed he contacted Product Management about the issue but hadn’t heard back (it’s been five days). He had no timeline to when he would get back to me, or if they would EVER get back to him. When bringing up the customer service issues (exploiting and mistreating people with hearing loss) he said he contacted HR, but they had also not gotten back to him. My concerns with this is A) it is an attitude kept by many and I didn’t give him any names, so how/why would HR be involved? and B) I know enough people in HR to know they don’t leave something like this open for a week. I then called and had someone look him up in the directory to see what position he was in. They never said what he did but transferred me to his supervisor, Michelle (I don’t know the proper spelling of her first name, or her last name). On this phone call Michelle stated that Robert was not, in fact, the head of consumer relations, he was just a customer service rep. From the get-go her tone was very hostile, but I ignored it and addressed my concerns with her. Before we got too far into it she yelled at me (no I was not mistaken, she actually screamed at me). I asked her to “Please do not yell and be more appropriate on this phone call. I have been very civilized despite being beyond frustrated…” So here is a breakdown since my open letter:
- 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.
- Robert ignores my emails facilitating the call mentioned above. He hasn’t done anything and appears to be stringing me along.
- Robert’s supervisor, Michelle, screams at me and is openly hostile. 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?