For the past two weeks I have been consumed. I’ve been behind in deadlines, both with work and writing. My house is a mess, and I’m behind in pretty much every personal 2016 goal I’ve set for myself. I haven’t read anything since… I don’t know. And I’m a writer and bookaholic, so reading everyday is kind of my thing. I haven’t cooked a meal. I haven’t been the best about returning messages. I have been – CONSUMED.
Well because I’m me I suppose. Because I’ve seen something terrible and I can’t let it go. And I’ve experienced worse. My mind is blown and I seek to make sense of the madness I am encountering. Because what is happening is wrong. IT’S WRONG.
On February 29, I wrote an open letter to ReSound, a hearing aid manufacturer. They have a dangerous glitch in the software for their hearing aids. What’s dangerous? Well imagine the settings having a backdoor autopilot that goes rogue and changes volume and program settings on a whim, which in effect is like taking a hammer to the wearer’s ears. It brought me to the floor the first time I experienced it. I physically cried out, and not just in surprise…
When I told ReSound about the issue, they told me it was me. First I was imagining things. Then I didn’t understand how the hearing aids worked and there was nothing wrong with them – I was just too stupid to know how to read. It is incredibly difficult to get my riled up. I’m described as “hyper-rational” – objective, diplomatic and someone who can compartmentalize to a fault. So when I say this what I mean is I was actually called stupid – multiple times. I was actually told I was imagining things – multiple times. There are no mincing words there.
In my lifetime spanning three decades I have been treated as if I was less or stupid because of my hearing loss – maybe five times. No more than six or seven. But never from someone in the hearing solutions industry. This was a first. Upon further research I discovered I was not alone – both in the glitch and the poor treatment of those with hearing loss. Many others described how their settings would change when they shouldn’t and just how painful that was. But ReSound bullied them into silence. Consumer Affairs, even ReSound’s Facebook page told a story that was deeply troubling.
And that was when I became consumed. Because I’m me. My husband says I can’t stand seeing someone doing something hurtful to someone else. Maybe it’s a hero complex or perhaps I’m just a masochist looking for stress and a reason not to sleep, but I just can’t look away from the wrongness.
Taking on the problem of finding a solution for this harmful glitch started this, but how I was treated and what I saw happening, which is even reflected in their policies of refusing to work with people who are hard of hearing directly… I can’t let go of that. And then my mission became twofold: Make ReSound acknowledge the glitch exists and state their commitment to working on a fix for it, and to have them take a hard look at their ableist policies and their environment that fosters such a bigoted and hostile environment towards the very people they are supposed to help, and take the first steps to address that. Make it better. Treat people with hearing loss as if they are people who happen to have hearing loss rather than associating them with a problem ReSound was meant to correct. We (people with hearing loss) are not hearing loss personified.
To be clear, as I have stated in my open letter, phone calls, emails, etc. I understand that the technology is newish. They may not understand what’s causing it. Finding a fix may take a long time… And that’s okay. Because they’re acknowledging the problem and they’re committed to fixing it as soon as they’re able. But if they refuse to acknowledge its existence and refuse to work with the people who have experienced it and therefore know it best, they will NEVER find a fix for it. End of story.
As big of a deal as the glitch is (calling it dangerous or a hazard is not an exaggeration, such an assault on one’s ears is not healthy and can negatively impact their remaining hearing function; and given the wrong scenario like driving could even cause an accident, so it really is that SERIOUS), it’s the blatant disregard and open hostility towards people with hearing loss that is the bigger problem. It’s the reason I can’t walk away, whether I return ReSound’s hearing aids or not. Now, they’re stuck with me.
After months of being treated horribly or ignored (they really like to go back and forth), I was finally pushed to my limit after a Regional Sales Manager told me not to contact him again. Tech support had been long exhausted. And now ReSound officially stopped blaming me and either stated there was no issue and if I was unhappy I should leave them alone OR that it was Apple’s fault. (Except as stated in previous posts, the glitch is not device-specific and has been tried on iOS 8 and iOS 9, the fault lies on ReSound’s side.) By this time ReSound said they would only work with me if it was through my audiologist. The problem with that was that they were telling my audiologist very different things than they were telling me. So I decided it was time for some much-needed transparency and wrote the open letter.
Of course after that everything kind of spiraled. While in the open letter I asked ReSound to work with me to resolve these things, stressed my expectations were just acknowledgement and treating the hard-of-hearing and deaf communities better, it didn’t matter. ReSound’s Facebook page reached out to me (more accurately whoever manages it) and told me that the head of Product Development and the head of IT wanted to schedule a call with me. I cleared my schedule and thought, “This is it. Finally – they are listening.” Because that was the whole point of the open letter – to blow past the problematic gatekeepers and reach someone who mattered in the company – someone who really believed in what ReSound is supposed to do…
The call was canceled less than 24 hours later. ReSound reached out on Facebook and claimed that Product Management and IT had talked with my audiologist and found a solution, but I would need to schedule an appointment with her to make it work. Unfortunately for them, three minutes earlier my audiologist emailed me saying she had talked to ReSound and there was no solution as they could not “find the problem”. She asked me to return the hearing aids and be done with this. Timestamps are amazing in these scenarios, showing a clear deception on ReSound’s part.
This was hardly a highlight though. Someone from ReSound bullied me online after posting my letter and after telling me to buzz off, but not before sharing their inside knowledge of how the hearing aids were designed/engineered; I stated how it was unwise for ReSound to make these comments to me. They were quickly deleted… what could I do? Well, I could use the screen shots I took before this person deleted them. When I called corporate I was transferred to the “head of consumer relations” but after he ignored me for nearly a week, I reached out again only to discover that he was simply a customer service rep. I had been lied to again, and he had done nothing. In speaking with him it was clear he was never going to contact me again. In speaking with his supervisor… well she was belligerent and openly hostile and that called ended with her screaming at me. (I went on to her supervisor.)
ReSound is confused as to how I can say they have a negative attitude towards hard of hearing people and mistreat them, but…. Well I think I gave some pretty clear examples there (and you know I have names, extensions, copies of correspondences and pictures because that’s how I roll).
What I still can’t wrap my head around is why. I mean why can’t ReSound just acknowledge the issue? Why can’t they treat hard of hearing people with dignity and respect, as if we’re actually their fellow human beings? Why is this, such a thing? Seriously, WHY?
So, I have been consumed. But I’m getting better. I will not fall down this black hole of sorts, but it doesn’t mean I am going to stop, or be any less persistent. It means I am not alone. It means that I have the strength of what’s right on my side.
With help, I am starting to feel better too. Because as much as ReSound keeps screaming that it’s only me, it is not. I know many others who have experienced this glitch and they’re starting to speak out again. People are starting to talk. Eventually, if enough people reach out, ReSound will have to listen. And that’s my goal here: Acknowledgment. Respect. Transparency. Doing right, because it’s the right thing to do.
CALL TO ACTION
For a week ReSound ignored me because I was only one person. It has to start with one person, but it takes more than one voice to move forward, particularly when the entity is so unwilling, unmoved and unfazed to do so. So please, join me. Let ReSound know that exploiting and mistreating people with hearing loss, is not only unacceptable but it will no longer be tolerated. AT. ALL. Even if you do not have hearing loss, or if you do but do not have ReSound hearing aids – this is about right and wrong. Please help make something right happen.
What can you do?
Send ReSound a message via social media. Here is their Facebook and tweet them: @resoundus – let them know this is not okay!
Rate or review ReSound on Facebook. This is usually the only way they even make a show of reaching out, but it has also been the most effective so far in getting their attention: https://www.facebook.com/gnresound/reviews/
File a complaint with the FTC and with your state’s attorney general. Even though they are not accredited, file one with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as well, just to be well-rounded.
Spread the word! Share this post, talk to people on social media and real life. Reach out to communities affected, start petitions, call ReSound. Be heard.
I told ReSound this once, and I’ll say it again. The more ReSound ignores us or tries to make us go away, the louder we will become.
No more wrongness, it’s time to #fixitresound!