PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today that his office obtained an Assurance of Discontinuance against Budget Hearing Aids and its subsidiary, Audien (Budget), to stop the company from misleading consumers about over-the-counter hearing devices.
Budget owns several websites and advertises “FDA APPROVED” or “FDA REGISTERED” hearing devices, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any over-the-counter hearing aids. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) claims Budget's use of these terms conveys a message to the public that the FDA favors or endorses a particular product or service. As a result of the settlement, the AGO required Budget desist from using this deceptive tactic and to remove the FDA logo and the terms “FDA APPROVED,” and “FDA REGISTERED” from any of its advertising. This injunctive term promotes truth in advertising in this burgeoning marketplace.
“My office will continue to be vigilant in protecting consumers by holding companies accountable for their misleading tactics,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Consumers looking for an affordable over-the-counter hearing device should do their homework before making a purchase.”
Last year, Attorney General Brnovich was the first attorney general in the country to warn Arizona consumers about the misleading tactics being utilized by the flood of over-the-counter hearing device companies that entered the market when the FDA relaxed restrictions on hearing amplifier devices.
Attorney General Brnovich offers the following consumer tips when buying over-the-counter hearing devices:
- FDA guidance for the over-the-counter hearing device market does not exist. These devices may not work for those with significant or severe hearing loss.
- Always check the Better Business Bureau and other objective consumer review websites before buying.
- If you choose to buy, always price shop and review the product details carefully. If the product could be of use, you often can find the same or similar product at lower prices.
- Carefully read the timeframes and conditions for refunds before you buy. If you agree to an upgrade on your original purchase, be sure to clarify the time remaining during which you may request a refund.
Assistant Attorney General Jane Fallon handled the case for the State.
If you feel that you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. For consumer inquiries, or to request a complaint form, call the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or toll-free outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.
Copy of Assurance of Discontinuance (pending Court approval) here.