National Advertising Division Recommends Audien, LLC Discontinue “Tinnitus Management” and Comparative Pricing Claims for its Rechargeable Hearing Aids
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New York, NY – June 24, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Audien, LLC discontinue the following claims for its rechargeable hearing aid:
- “Rechargeable Hearing Aids for $89/pair*”
- “Similar technology to $5000 hearing aids”
- “Can be used for Tinnitus management”
These claims, which appeared in internet advertising, were challenged by NAD as part of the independent non-profit organization’s routine monitoring program.
Audien promotes its product as an inexpensive rechargeable hearing aid with a technology similar to expensive hearing aids. Additionally, the statements on its website represent that the Audien product can help to manage tinnitus (often referred to as ringing in the ears). NAD was concerned that consumers who may be experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus and who are facing financial hardship during this pandemic will be especially interested in the significant cost savings Audien advertises and reasonably believe that Audien’s product is a regulated medical device similar to the more expensive hearing aids (which cost, on average, from $1,500 to thousands of dollars).
NAD noted that hearing aids, which are usually programmed to address an individual’s degree of hearing loss across sound frequencies, are medical devices that cannot be purchased over-the-counter and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In contrast, a personal sound amplification product is an unregulated wearable electronic product intended for non-hearing-impaired consumers to amplify sounds in certain environments, such as for hunting or other recreational activities.
The advertiser did not provide any evidence to support its claims, however, Audien maintained that it discloses the limitations to all the challenged claims. NAD determined that these disclosures, located in the “Definitions and Disclaimers” section at the bottom of Audien’s website homepage, contradict the main claims and are otherwise insufficient. For instance:
- With regard to the claim “rechargeable hearing aids for $89/pair*,” Audien’s disclaimer does not inform consumers that its “hearing aid” is not a medical device that is regulated and approved by the FDA. Further, Audien did not provide evidence to support its “rechargeable” claim.
- Regarding the claim “similar technology to $5000 hearing aids,” the disclosure states that Audien’s device is similar to $5,000 hearing aids only as to “standard items” (microphone, rechargeable batteries, chip, and speaker). However, consumers understand that prescription/regulated hearing aids are sophisticated devices and will reasonably believe that Audien’s product will have similar sophisticated technology comparable to those more expensive hearing aids, not what Audien refers to as “standard items.”
- With regard to the claim “can be used for tinnitus management,” the disclosure states that the claim refers to feedback provided by thousands of Audien Hearing’s customers. NAD noted that this is a health-related claim and should be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Audien cannot use consumer feedback to substantiate the claim that its product can be used to manage tinnitus.
Further, NAD noted that even if the challenged claims could be qualified, the disclosures were not conspicuous and consumers would likely not see or read them. In the absence of any supporting evidence, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue all the challenged claims.
During the proceeding, the advertiser informed NAD that it had permanently discontinued other challenged express claims, including:
- “The Best Rechargeable Hearing Aid”
- “Audiologists #1 Recommended online hearing aid”
- “Best hearing aid for tinnitus management”
In reliance on the advertiser’s representation that it has permanently discontinued these claims, NAD did not review the claims on their merits. These voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.
In its advertiser statement, Audien stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.