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NewsChannel5 Investigates: Consumer Alert

Does Loud 'N Clear Live Up to Ads' Claims?

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If you're having trouble hearing, you might be tempted to buy a new product called the Loud 'N Clear.

It promises to help you hear better and even hear things you might not ordinarily be able to.

But, can the Loud 'N Clear really do all that its ads claim?

NewsChannel 5 Investigates put it to the test, and consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus found the answer is loud and clear.

The TV ads claim you'll never miss another word with the Loud 'N Clear, a small device that looks like a cell phone ear piece.

In the commercial, the announcer proclaims, "It turns ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing."

They call it a personal sound amplifier rather than a hearing aid. But the Loud 'N Clear ads are clearly aimed at senior citizens who are experiencing hearing loss.

In the commercial, you also hear that all you have to do is "simply turn up the volume and hear what people are saying around you."

But the problem is, our investigation found, the Loud 'N Clear just doesn't do what the ads say it will.

Kathleen Calligan of the Better Business Bureau said, "This is blatantly false and misleading advertising."

With Calligan's help, we tested the Loud 'N Clear's claims.

The ads claim the device is "so powerful you can even hear conversations from across the street."

But when Calligan stood across the street from Kraus, Calligan couldn't hear a word being said.

The ads also say you can "even understand what people are saying when you can't hear them. With Loud 'N Clear, you can listen in."

But inside the Better Business Bureau offices, Kraus stood just feet away around a corner talking, but again Calligan could not hear her.

And, finally, they tested the claims that the Loud 'N Clear is "so powerful you can hear a pin drop across the room."

Kraus dropped a sewing needle on a table top across a room from Calligan. Again, Calligan heard nothing.

Calligan tells NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "What is loud and clear about the Loud 'N Clear is that it doesn't work."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates also took the Loud 'N Clear to Vanderbilt University's Hearing Lab where Drs. Todd Ricketts and Ben Hornsby ran the device through a battery of slightly more scientific tests.

When they were done, Ricketts and Hornsby agreed, "It's a nice little toy. A good toy."

The researchers say the Loud 'N Clear does make moderate sounds louder, but it has severe limitations.

For one thing, it can't single out just one sound. So in a big room like the NewsChannel 5 newsroom, the Loud 'N Clear would help you hear a TV across the room any better because the device makes not just the sound of the TV louder, but everything in the room louder.

"The idea that this is going to perhaps help somebody with hearing loss or help an older person hear better, I think, is misleading, at best, " said Dr. Ricketts.

And, at least one part of the ad, the researchers say is downright dangerous.

The ad claims the Loud 'N Clear is "a must for hunters because it lets you hear the wildlife before they hear you."

But, Ricketts cautioned, "If you were hunting with this and if you fired a gun which is at a very high level, it would be amplified at least some."

And that, he says, could seriously damage your hearing.

For our final test, we took the Loud 'N Clear to a bingo game and asked one of the seniors their to give it a try.

Maurine Simpson wore it for several minutes and initially seemed to think it helped her hear better. But, then when we tried to ask her about it, she couldn't hear our question.

We then asked her to tell us what two women across the table were saying to each other.

Simpson told us, "No, can't understand them. It's one of these things that's over-rated probably."

Another problem with the Loud N Clear is if you turn it up, it makes a lot of noise itself which makes it then hard to hear everything else.

Experts say if you're experiencing hearing loss, you're better off getting your hearing tested by a doctor and then getting a hearing aid specifically designed to help you.

The Loud 'N Clear sells for anywhere from $15 to $20, depending on where you get it.

But save your money. As the doctors at Vanderbilt said, it makes a fun toy, but not much more than that.

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