Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Update on the saga of my hearing aids...

In my last post I detailed  the difficulties I was having in getting one of my hearing aids repaired. The Oticon distributors in Israel were refusing to honor my Oticon authorized warranties which I received in the US. This despite having received assurances from Oticon that the warranties WOULD be honored!!

I was then in touch with the audiologist in Baltimore who I had worked with to find the best hearing aids for me.  It was through her that they were purchased and the warranties provided.  She was directly in touch with Oticon and after being unable to obtain satisfaction otherwise, the president of Oticon, Peer Lauritsen stepped in.

Well, folks, that did the trick. Here is a copy of the letter my audiologist received from Oticon: (I have removed the contact info, sorry)

From: Anna Musser
Date: November 23, 2011 10:13:07 AM EST
To: Julie Norin
Subject: Assistance Needed by Oticon Inc.
Good Morning Julie,

Below is information on how we will resolve this matter for the time being. Our president Peer Lauritsen approved our Colleague in Israel to bill us for any charges that may be incurred (as the instruments and speakers are covered under our US new instrument warranty).

We will be also forwarding a note to our Colleagues in Israel to confirm this arrangement. They are welcome to work with us regarding any questions or charges.

His details are:

Mr. Shay Davidovich
Mobile: +97254 433 6288

The company details are:

51, Ben-Yehuda St., P.O. Box 3184
63 431 Tel Aviv
Phone: +972 3526 8101
Michael Bjergegaard our sales manager has already talked to Mr. Shay and he will take good care of the customer.

let me know if you need any additional information. We will be contacting the office again. Please keep in touch and let us know that everything is taken care of properly. Thank you.

 Best Regards,
Anna Musser
Customer Service Representative, Oticon Inc.

Oticon, Inc.
29 Schoolhouse Road
Somerset, NJ 08875, USA

Direct    800-526-3921 X2129
Fax       732-560-7376

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two more only in Israel experiences good and bad...

As most of my readers know, I wear hearing aids.  Before I made aliyah I took steps to acquire brand new hearing aids since my old ones were about four years old and already on their way out. I did not want to have to deal with attempting to acquire new hearing aids in Israel so shortly after my arrival.  I also understood that there was probably no chance in hell that I could acquire them for nothing.  But, in the US where there social services infrastructure is vast, and rather well supported, I felt I had a better chance of doing that.

I was in a position where I felt I could be eligible for such assistance.  I thus went to the Division of Rehabilitation Services of Maryland and applied.  My application was successful and after many months of meetings, testing, and working with an audiologist to find the right hearing aid for me, I was successfully fitted with brand new hearing aids - Agil Pro power aids by Oticon.  Upon receiving the aids I also received a warranty for repair and a warranty for replacement.  I then asked about coverage by those warranties while I would be living in Israel.  We spoke with Oticon directly and they told us that both warranties are 100% valid and honorable in Israel.

In Israel there is only one distributor of Oticon hearing aids, Medton.  Medton has a number of offices throughout the country.  I decided (unwisely it would later turn out) to go to their "flagship" location, in Tel Aviv.  This was the trip I took yesterday, despite not feeling very well.  My daughter and two grandsons joined me in this excursion for a break in their routine.  Trust me -- this was a break!

Using my trusty Garmin GPS I easily found my way to where the Medton office was located and then proceeded to look for a place to park. I found one a block away and parked. But this was not free parking.  I then searched, in vain, for a nearby kiosk where I could purchase the parking card to display in my window.  With an unsuccessful search for such I began asking passerby where I could find such a kiosk. Well, apparently it could be found several blocks away in the opposite direction in which I needed to go.  I realized I could get a ticket while I would be on my way to purchase the parking card.  (yes, BAD design, and yes, typically Israeli). I was going to move the car when one of the passersby whom I had stopped to ask where the kiosk was, took out a parking card from his briefcase and gave it to me with instructions on how to mark it (by scratching out the day, date, month, time, etc) and display it in the window of my car.  I wanted to pay him but he refused.  This was the typical really great only in Israel experience for this day!

With a smile on my face I then proceeded with my daughter, Chloe, grandsons Gavriel and Eliya to the Medton office.  We entered the office (a nice but small place, easily accessible, clean and well-lit), and I approached the reception window.  I explained my business -- one of my HA's had stopped working, I think it just needs a cleaning -- and I also assured them that if the work was more than just a cleaning, I have  the warranties for coverage and showed them these. (Of course, they were in English, but trust me -- they understood).   Well, they insisted that they could not honor the warranties and further insisted that my HA needed real work and it would cost me 900 NIS (nearly $250).  I told them that these warranties were issued by OTICON and that they, as Oticon distributors were legally bound to honor the warranties -- to no avail.   So, we prepared to leave - my intention being to go home and contact both my social worker and audiologist in Maryland and let them know what is happening. I knew my audi has a close working relationship with Oticon and that she (and they) would come through for me.   But before we could leave, we each needed to use the facilities and then Chloe needed to nurse Eliya. So we were "hanging out" in the waiting area of the Medton office for a bit.  Just before we were prepared to depart the woman at the desk told me that if I could produce a "cheshbonit" (receipt) for the HA's in MY NAME, they would honor the warranties.  I explained to her that the HA's were purchased for me by a government agency so I could not produce such a thing, but that the HA's and the warranties are in my name and, more importantly, my HA serial numbers are in the Oticon database with MY NAME.   No go.  So, we left.

Upon arriving home I immediately hit my computer and sent out an email to both my social worker and audi back in Maryland.  The response from them was swift and completely in agreement with me.  My audi was in contact with Oticon and Oticon stated that Medton is legally obligated to honor my warranty.  They then asked my audi to provide them with all the names and contact info for the people who turned me away.  They said if they continue to refuse to honor my warranty then Oticon will find another distributor in Israel.

In the meantime, I remembered that I had cut out an advert for a hearing aid place in Jerusalem.  I pulled out that ad to look at it.  It is also for a Medton office.  However, this ad was in English, in the JPost magazine, and targeted to English speaking clientele.  The audiologists at this place are American.  I have decided that before I proceed with any action against Medton via Oticon, I am going to give this place a shot.   I will be calling them a bit later this morning and arrange for an appointment.  So, for now, this is a story "to be continued"...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bar Mitzvah, Reunions, Emotions

Today I took the day off to go to Yerushalyim to attend the Bar Mitzvah of a friends son.  I decided to go in with my son-in-law on his way to work, to take the light rail to Sha'ar Yaffe and walk to the Kotel for the Bar Mitzvah.  I would then take the light rail and then bus back home.  I anticipated a half day...


It took much longer.  But first, let me discuss my emotional experience. I arrived at the Kotel just as they were davening Shacharit, right before Kriyat Shema.  I was glad that I was able to get there early enough to actually participate.  I found Pnina right away, and then, I heard it -- Shabi's voice, just as Pnina was telling me he was there for the Bar Mitzvah!  Shabsi was davening for the amud. I knew that I might see some people I knew from Teaneck, but had not expected to see Shabsi.  So, I was really surprised and I started crying. (Quietly, so as not to disturb their simcha).  Then, I climbed on a chair and saw Carlos, and Moshe, and Aryeh and Shabsi, and I was kind of overwhelmed.  Barry had loved Carlos and his son Moshe so much.  Moshe did a BEAUTIFUL job leining and the entire Bar Mitzvah was just lovely.  I also saw Allison Alt, and Danielle Barta, and Rebecca Furer.  They were so cute. They each wanted to take their picture with me. I felt like a celebrity!! I told them that I wanted to have them all come to me for a Shabbat -- it could be a mini Teaneck Shabbaton!  

After the Bar Mitzvah we went to the restaurant, Between The Arches. It is in a tunnel and it is really nice.  We had drinks and nosh. Then there was a tour. I did not go on the tour. After the walking and standing around my hip was really hurting me. So, I stayed at the restaurant with their things until they returned. Then we went downstairs and sat down to lunch.  It was a lovely lunch, with all kinds of salads, and dips and spreads, a tapas bar of sorts.  Then there was salmon ceviche, and then salmon teriyaki on skewers with sweet potatoes, green beans and mushrooms, a lentil ball, and cherry tomatoes.  There was an assortment of desserts which I passed on.  I had limonana (lemonade with mint and crushed ice).  

After lunch I walked back to get the light rail. That too was not without incident. First, as I was walking there, I passed through one of the outdoor cafe's that is frequented mostly by young kids and there was Liav Lewitt.  I said hello to him.  Then a bit later I stopped at a caspomat to take some money out and when I was done, I turned around and saw Alef Lewitt.  It took him a moment to recognize me. He looked REALLY tired and out of it.  He had no idea that his brother was sitting around the corner!  Then, when I reached the intersection of Yaffe Street that leads up to where I would pick up the light rail, a woman fainted, and then began having a seizure.  EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE went to help her. One man threw his jacket under his head and used a stick to prevent her from biting her tongue. Another woman sat down next to her and held her head.  A third woman was on the phone calling emergency and another one called her doctor for instructions.  Another person offered water.   It was amazing.  I stayed for a while because I was so scared for her and wanted to know she was okay but I realized I could do nothing so I said a prayer for her and left. 

I then took the light rail back uptown, and found my way to the bus stop to catch my bus back home.  Now about the "it took much longer" comment.  Walking TO the Kotel was not so bad, it was mostly all downhill, plus it was early in the day and my energy level was good.  But by the time I arrived my hip was aching me.  Then, I had to turn down participating in the tour -- which was about a two hour long tour -- because I knew that my hip would hurt and that I still had to walk BACK to the light rail later.  Sure enough, after lunch, which ended at 2 PM, I walked back. This time it was all UPHILL, and I was tired, and my hip was already hurting me. I had to go S-L-O-W-L-Y. So by the time I made it to the train stop to get the light rail it was nearly 3 PM!  Then I had to WAIT for the train, and then the train was FULL and made many stops and took a long time at each stop so by the time I arrived at the Tachanat Mercazit it was nearly 4 PM.  Then I had to walk several blocks to get to the bus stop to catch the bus back to the Yishuv.  The bus does not go INTO the Yishuv, it let me off outside the Yishuv and I had to walk home from the bus stop.  There was traffic going home, so by the time I got home it was 5:30 PM!  It took 3.5 hours for me to get home after the lunch was over!!! 

Now I know why I wanted (and have) a car. I knew this would be an issue for me.  

Anyway it was a nice day all around...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ulpan and a good full life

I have not posted here in a while. That is partly because I have been busy and partly because I have not really had much to say.  I go to ulpan every morning for four hours, then I go home and either look for work, or work around the house, or shopping.  

Learning in ulpan at this time of my life is so much more difficult than it was thirty two years ago.  For one thing,   I was much younger then and for another my hearing loss today is greater than it was back then.  Additionally, I have the problem of difficulty with making sense of sounds that I hear.  It can sometimes be a struggle in English, but in Hebrew it is TRULY a struggle.   My issues with using the phone have not subsided in any great deal.  I can use the phone but only easily with a handful of people -- such as my mom.  But most of the time it is simply a big struggle, and many times simply impossible and I just give up. 

BUT, I can say that after being in Israel now, for a bit over two months, I AM beginning to feel that I can follow spoken Hebrew much better and I can even speak it better.  The problem I have is when I am spoken to in Hebrew and I cannot follow what is being said because of my hearing, and I indicate as such to the speaker, rather than attempt to speak Hebrew more slowly, or more clearly, or even more simply -- they switch to English.  And that totally defeats the purpose for me.  It is just too much work for me to argue with them. They do not understand. 

Today in Ulpan it was finally my turn to sit in front of the class and tell my story.  I had actually tried to avoid it but was unable to do so completely and finally had to do it.  So, I told my story but clarified first off that I have a great life, that I am VERY happy in it, and that in no way do I wish to be thought of as a complainer.  I was not complaining, just telling my story.  

It is far from done, I hope. I hope I have much more life to live.  I scare so much more easily today than I ever did.  I am afraid of illness, of injury, of bad things.  But I try to ignore my fears and just move on.  

I have a brand new grandson. His name is Eliya Yehuda. He is VERY cute and tiny and adorable.  We had a beautiful bris and seudah following the bris in our home.  I was very pleased with the turnout. Many of the people whom I consider my friends and who are important to me came.  It was an interesting and nice mix of people.  

Today, I learned something new:  I learned that The Evil One got divorced.  I am NOT surprised.  She once was married to the best man possible and she scorned him.  She then chose to marry a real loser - a man who is mentally ill.  I am actually sorry she divorced him. I wanted to see her continue with him as an albatross around her neck!  

Anyway, such is my life these days...