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Wireless earbuds, comfort fit and ACL

Hi all

Looking to purchase a pair of true wireless earbuds (e.g. AirPods or Jabra), specifically from a physical store. I want to get a pair that’s comfortable for wearing over longish periods of time.

I’ve been looking at returns policy for major retailers like JB, etc, and it is not clear to me whether a bad (personal) ear-fit would fail ACL’s fitness for purpose test. Lets say, buy, try for 1 week and make a call on whether the ear-fit is ok.

On various forums I’ve seen stories of retailers pushing back on returns on hygiene and the “product is not defective” grounds. Does anyone know if this is a grey area or if this is clear cut? Would like to know before spending $.

Thanks
Kai

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Hi @kai, welcome to the community.

It is an interesting question and could apply to a range of consumer products…but…it is clear cut. If one buys a products and it is the wrong size or doesn’t fit properly, it comes under a ‘change of mind’. The Victorian Consumer Affair provides good information on a change of mind:

It would be similar to buying a pair of shoes, wearing them for a week and finding out they they were a little uncomfortable due to the style of shoe. Such causes are classed as change in mind as the consumer has changed their mind in relation to the comfort of the product after purchase. The ACL would only apply if there was a fault with the product as a result of its manufacture, transport or use. Being uncomfortable for a perfectly good and working earbud isn’t a fault with the product…but a personal choice of the user.

Change of minds are outside the Australian Consumer Law and are established by the business in question. Often items such as underwear, swimming bathers or other items where hygiene issues raise, are excluded from change of mind policies where they exist.

It is therefore important to understand what the change of mind policies are of a store before committing to a purchase.

For example, JB-HI, they have a change of mind policy, but the policy only applies to “Unused & Unopened, packaging in good condition (product not faulty) - eg change of mind.”.

An another example is Harvey Normans…

The only time that it would fall under the ACL is if the marketing material said something like “suits all ear shapes and guaranteed to be comfortable”. In such case, if you could prove (which would be very difficult), that the earbuds in your ear were uncomfortable then the information would be considered misleading under the Australian Consumer Law. It is unlikely to be able to be proven unless your upper ear canal was ‘special’ in its shape and that any earbud would be uncomfortable. In such case, you shouldn’t be buying an earbud as you will have the same problem no matter the brand or model.

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Thanks @phb, for the welcome & response much appreciated. I missed the “wrong size” example on the consumer affairs website. Looks like I’ll be looking for a store where they allow physical demos or (if they exist) explicitly allow for change of minds

And thanks for expanding on what change of mind means in the ninja edit!

Cheers
Kai

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If really concerned about earfit then these may be worth a look:

https://www.winchesteraustralia.com.au/products/DECIBULLZTW

I can’t say what sort of sound they produce as I have never used them but gizmodo did review them and said the sound was “shit” but they said the moulds (US molds) were a purchase option to fit to your own earbuds.

or

or

Try Memory Foam tips
(this linked business has Distributors in Australia including JB HiFi)
https://www.complyfoam.com/#

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Hi @kai Welcome to the forum . It would mean buying online but check out Raycon earbuds . I will put a link to their web site . They ship to Australia from the US .

Find link here

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Just putting this up here for future reference. I could only find three vendors that processes returns for headphones/earbuds:

  • Jabra - if purchased directly, within 30 days.
  • Apple - if purchased directly, within 14 days.
  • RHA Audio - if purchased directly, within 50 days. [edit: they don’t ship to Australia as of post]

No retailers from what I can find would support returns, and in-store demo seems unlikely in most cases esp in these days.

The other option is custom IEM and a wired -> BT adapter, but that’s more than my initial budget.

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Highly possible due to hygiene issues. I personally wouldn’t put a bud which has been in another person’s ear, in my ear.

It appears that some bud manufacturers provide a range of interchangeable bud tips so that users can select ones which best suits their ear canal shapes. This article may be useful to you…

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That article’s a really good summary of what I found as well. It seems some manufacturers has …cottoned… onto providing different tip sizes to minimise return claims and perceptions of not being fit for purpose.

My own experience has been that for buds to stay in place (and ideally maintain a seal while doing so), they place pressure on parts of the ear. And I suppose depending on your “ear physiology”, different buds & tips places pressure on different parts of the ear which may be more or less sensitive.

There apparently is also a midway option between custom IEM and universal (non-custom) IEMs which is a moulded tip. IEM = in ear monitor = ear wigs. You take an ear impression - pref. through a qualified audiologist - and they make a mould which then interfaces with the universal IEM. ex: www.customart.com

In reference to above, I expect moulded tips to have a much greater contact area and so less overall pressure = more comfort. But again, this would differ with the person, as there are other perceptual factors involved.

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I find it impossible to find comfortable ear buds which stay in, regardless of changing silicone tip sizes. The hard Apple ones don’t even fit inside my ear, let alone stay in.
There is a hack you can do with the soft tips using silicone putty, the link is


I did this, it’s pretty easy, and works to custom fit ear buds to your ears rather than ‘one shape fits all’. My buds now fit well and don’t pop out. The putty in the link is ‘Sugru’ which can be bought online and used for lots of other clever hacks (just search online).

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