Pros & Cons Of Costco Hearing Aids

Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and Founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Arizona, discusses the Pros and Cons of purchasing hearing aids from a Costco.

My Clinic Website: http://www.AppliedHearingSolutions.com

Costco is one of the largest purchasers in the hearing aid industry. This gives them incredible buying power and this drives down the cost of devices for their members. They are also the 2nd largest money makers for the Big Box store behind only Wine.

Lets take a look at the Pros and Cons of buying your next set of hearing aids from a Big Box retailer.

Let’s start with the Pros:

Pro #1. Their hearing aids are CHEAP. Not cheap as in bad, cheap as in low cost. A pair of Premium Kirkland Signature 8.0 devices are only $1,600.

Pro #2. The hearing aids are Good. The top tiers of devices are comparable to top tier name brand devices. In fact, all of the hearing aids are either name brand, or re-branded from a name brand manufacturer.

Pro #3. Some Costcos have experienced Audiologists and Hearing Instrument specialists. The hearing care professional you work with is even more important than the devices you buy. You just have to find a Costco that has a phenomenal hearing care provider.

Now on to the Cons:

Con #1. Only 20-25% of patients return to Costco for a second set of hearing aids. Obviously, this is on average. I suspect that Costcos with terrific hearing care providers have a much higher rate. The only possible excuses for these low numbers are either they are not performing best practices like Real Ear Measures, or they are not providing a good patient experience (ie. Customer Service)

Con #2. Some hearing aids they sell are LOCKED! Watch out for locked hearing aids. They lock them to prevent you from getting them serviced from other hearing care providers. You must go to a Costco no matter what.

Con #3. The hearing aids are De-Featured. Despite the hearing aids still being good, manufacturers do remove features from the devices they sell to Costco. If you aren’t hearing well with Costco hearing aids, it may not be you, it may be the devices.

Con #4. Long Wait times. I have had patients mention that wait times to get hearing aids from Costco have been up to 30 days to even be seen by the provider. There are also concerns that if you do purchase hearing aids from Costco that you will have to wait too long for service if the hearing aids need to be repaired or re-programmed.

Overall, Costco is known for providing good hearing aids at very low prices. Some people receive excellent benefits from Costco hearing aids as long as the hearing care provider they see is top notch. As long as you are aware of the Pros and Cons of going to Costco for your hearing healthcare, then you should be able to make an educated decision on what is right for you.

Comments

Betty Clark says:

I had been thinking about Costco aids. I’ve been retired for 20 years, but now am finding myself more and more with the public, and sometimes it’s a bit nerve-wracking to stay with the conversation in places with a lot of background noise. But I recently met someone with Costco hearing aids, and as a customer, he gave a compelling sales pitch. It’s nice to have more information, though, so thanks for making this video.

TechBytes with Ron Nutter says:

Do not go to Costco if you have Tinnitus or think you have Tinnitus. Their website says they can test for it but the local audiologists will say otherwise.

Charles Goldman says:

I just bought a pair of KS8 (Kirkland Signature 8.0; $1600) hearing aids from Costco, but returned them because the bluetooth connection with my iPhone had a lot of static (episodic rhythmic clicking). Even though the hearing aid technician called the manufacturer (Rexton), the answer was that this was a common problem with no solution. Since I would be using them for streaming podcasts for 1-2 hours per day, I could not keep them. The name brand aids they carry are priced about the same as I can get from an independent practice using my insurance plan discount ($2500-$3000 a pair). So, I will probably not purchase from Costco. They do use Real Ear measurements and I was told this is company policy. There was minimal wait for an appointment and the store brand was in stock.

Jon Brown says:

Thanks for your informative videos. I’ve been wearing hearing aids all my life. I was born deaf in one ear and cant hear out of the other. 😉 Actually, I have a severe to moderate loss in the right ear. I currently use a Phonac in the ear bi-cros. Any idea when Phonac will upgrade the B Direct to be bi-cros and bluetooth compatible and also are there other brands that would suit me.

Johnny Saudade says:

Dr Cliff I wanted to take a moment to commend you for your plentiful and excellent responses to to your comment section. Kudos

D.R. W says:

My (Canada) Costco hearing aids are great, especially the phone/hearing aid Bluetooth experience! I get free visits back to the Costco hearing aid center for as long as I own them and those little extra pieces that get changed out (except batteries) are free. Your Con suppositions are just weak and unsupported. I’ve tried other ones that were twice the price and were no better. Finally, the hearing test and follow-up visits I had at Costco were longer, more detailed and personal than anything I’ve experienced anywhere else including our local hospitals.

Shadow says:

Could this Dr. Clifford just be tired of watching other audiologist’s and hearing “clinics” get beat out by a Company with Fair and reasonable pricing liker COSTCO? Is what we’re hearing here a case of ” The losing competitor “? . Stop and think The electronics in these things could not cost more than 200.00 dollars a piece to manufacture so 400.00 a pair and knowing how cheap computer components are in places like Fry’s electronics my estimate is probably way over estimated, So1500 dollars a Pair for Inner Canal hidden aids is more than a profit for clinics and Manufacturer’s . And remember one thing Doctor’s are all on the Buddy System right or wrong one hand washes the other in any kind of health care.

Brian Yawn says:

I assume Sam’s Club would be the same pros and cons right?

Zoe Van Heel says:

My husband bought hearing aids from Costco and he has not been happy with them. They have sent them back to their company and we got new ones only to have the same problem. We have tried to adjust to them for two years now and Costco has tried to help us all this time. I am sure they are just as tired of us going in as we are of going in to see them. He just went back in and they sent his left aid back in about 2 weeks ago and when we got it back he wore it one day and the right one quit working. We took it in and they sent it back and we just got it back Tuesday. They have completely replaced the first pair and they did warranty the second pair the same as the first pair but here we are still having problems. Back ground noise is driving us both crazy. He cannot tolerate all the back ground noise the hearing aids pick up. A restruant is just too noisy for us to go into and eat. Too noisy at Church, too noisy for family gatherings. They are suppose to be adjustable but so far it has not worked. The right hearing aid adjusts the loudness for both hearing aids and the left one lowers the sound for both hearing aids. Costco has tried to fix the problem but so far no success. They use up the batteries real fast. He has to take them out when working in the yard and at night he has to put them in a dryer. We are very unhappy with the quality of the hearing aids and I think Costco is unhappy to see us there so often. With so much money invested in our senior years while on a set income it makes it very difficult. Costco has been very nice and has dealt with us and has honored their warranty. It is the product, not Costco employees that are to blame. I have no idea now how many hearing aids they have replaced for us. They warranty them for 3 years but I do not think we will ever buy another pair from Costco even though they are cheaper than other places. What would you recommend in hearing aids at this point for my husband. Thank you.

Ron Lanzo says:

Dr Cliff I love your content and wished I lived in Arizona and not CT. Okay I’m a long term hearing aid wearer now 30 years. I just went to COSTCO and had a wonderful experience. My Starkey HALO’s mics crashed and although the Bluetooth still worked normal heating did not! I’m still employed full time in sales and hearing is critical and listening is the single most important aspect of selling! I’ve owned Beltone, Widex & Starkey but these new ReSounds are superior to all my previous models. Costco loaned me a pair for my next business trip and I pick mine up next week so they had great service and support! Incidentally I’ve never gone back to the same hearing aid provider for a second set because the service and repair costs pretty much was lousy for nearly all I’d used in the past.

Deidre Weiss says:

Thank you so much for your informative and upbeat videos. You fill a void!

Jay May says:

I’ve been living with them now for a few months and I might return them. They have feedback protection built into most of their programs that causes the sound to pulse. Remember when you were a kid and talked or sang into a fan? It sounds like that. It’s subtle but it’s still there. Drives me nuts! To recreate the effect, just whistle and hold that one note while wearing the hearing aids. Only the “Music” program has the feedback protection turned off and remedies the problem. This quick-pulsing anti-feedback effect feature reminds me of how anti-lock breaks pulse on a car. I’m a musician and maybe too picky about sound but still, it’s annoying. The easy fix would be to put a feature in the app that allows the user to turn off feedback protection. However, are they worth it for the price and the average user? Probably so.

Jeffrey Brody says:

What this brief video leaves out is the incredibly generous return policy Costco offers with all of the hearing aids they sell. Six months is unheard of, but that’s their return policy. I returned mine after about 5 1/2 months and did they hassle me about it? Zero hassle. I have multiple hearing difficulties not just hearing loss, and previous attempts with hearing aids outside of Costco resulted in the same outcome, so I don’t blame Costco. No one was surprised that they didn’t work for me. The two women who helped me out were terrific and did their best. The Costco near me (Los Angeles area) is typically very crowded and yet my wait time for appointments was always reasonable – maybe not the same day or next day, but never a month. And I was taken in to my appointment on time nearly 100% of the time. Costco, in my opinion, is a great place to at least start your hearing aid journey.

Sassy Senior JoJo says:

Great info. Thank you.

Martin Klaver says:

I think this is a very fair review. I bought Kirkland hearing aids and had them fitted by a doctor or audiology on a fee for service basis as a result.

Mitchel Roland says:

I bought my hearing aids from CostCo over two years ago and have no complaints at all. I received my hearing aids in a very timely manner, like a few days not weeks. I live in northern Utah in the summer and southern Utah in the winter and CostCo is always available to me. I mean really , you would have to live on Mars not to have a CostCo somewhere in the proximity. There are 519 warehouses in 44 States and Puerto Rico, 98 in 9 Canadian provinces, 38 in Mexico in 18 Mexican states, 28 in the United Kingdom, 26 in Japan, 14 in Korea, 13 in Taiwan and , drum roll please!, 9 down under in 4 Australian states. AND Costco will check, clean and replace batteries FREE any time I go there. AND I would not hesitate to be part of that slimy 25% that would purchase again.

Teresa Jones says:

I am a board-certified hearing instruments specialist with Costco. I appreciate your professional review of Costco hearing aids. It seems to be an ongoing battle to make sure that there are enough providers in each location to handle the demand. Our particular location has a two or three week lead time. Thank you for what you do!

David Walkowski says:

I’m beginning to believe that going through Costco for hearing aids may be worth the risk as the same brand they sell was offered by an audiologist at double the price Costco was going to charge. For the price difference it’s worth any risk.

Dennis Scoggins, Sr. says:

Do you reply to these comments or do you just not go public with your advice?

David Smith says:

Recently found your videos. I’ve gained some insight which will help in getting my second set of aids. (not Starkey) And I now know why my first ones (Starkey Z-series) don’t help as much as I think they should. No REM test. Now to decide If I’m going to Costco or a medical center that is part of a major hospital. Thank You for providing the information

Andrew Gerdi says:

Dr. Cliff I enjoy the information you pass on to the consumer. Being a Costco hearing aid specialist, I would like to pass on to you that all Costco’s having hearing aid centers have bench markets that are used for grading each month. Two of them are testing protocol and real ear measurements. Both have to be 100% each month to meet Costco’s standard.

Randall Eckley says:

Did I hear you say that with tinnitus, the Kirkland doesn’t suppress that? A similarly priced HA considered a premium brand has the technology…better for tinnitus? What is that brand and model? Thank you!

Knightmare5.0 says:

Hey doc
I got high blood pressure they got me on amlodipine besaylate 5mg tablets. I notice when i take it my tinnitus gets louder. I stopped taking it for like 8 days and tried a combination of natural remedies to control the blood pressure. I noticed the ringing in my ears got quieter. But just yesterday on Sunday night blood pressure went up to 149/100 and I didn’t have the tinnitus loud, once I ended up taking the amlodipine it did lower the BP but the tinnitus is still louder. Sucks. Any suggestions on what medication to control blood pressure is not ototoxic? So i can talk to the physician about it.. thanks

William Bell says:

Hi Dr Cliff, what are the implications of having hearing aids with tinnitus? Will the hearing aid increase volume such that it will cause my ears to ring worse? Does Costco offer a hearing aid that will clip loud noises such that it won’t exacerbate my tinnitus?

Barry M Spinner says:

As a Canadian travelling to Buffalo, what type of prescription do I need to bring to my chosen Costco store? I had bad experiences in the past trying to purchase eye-glasses. My Can script was not good enouogh as the optom. was not “licensed’ in the State. (That was decades ago, admittedly.)

Colleen Rhyant says:

My audiologist says I need two hearing aids but I feel I hear perfectly well in one ear. Do I really need to get two? She says I have hearing loss in both ears more so in the right ear.

Mike T says:

FYI… Costco just started selling the new ReSound Quattro Linx for $2,700 a pair! I think most audiologist sell for $8K

tay r says:

Do you think someone who is hard of hearing can be a surgeon? I didn’t have hearing loss until 18 years old. I wanted to join the army and be a medic for 20 years but my hearing loss didnt happen until around my enlistment time! Now I’m unable to serve 🙁 So I’ve been going through a crisis and recently I’ve thought about being a surgeon, I just don’t know if it would be possible. Probably not right? I could endanger lives of patients? 🙁 I don’t have an aid yet, I’ve been putting it off because I’m depressed over my hearing loss but I’m going to start the process of getting them. I’m just scared. Nobody really talks about the emotional implications of hearing loss.

Louis Araiza says:

I have hearing aids form Costco and could not be happier. Best thing about Costco is that the are open on the weekends. I searched lots of Doctors and Hearing Aid centers and NO ONE is open on Saturday. 9 to 5 only, gotta take off work, sorry bud, not our problem. Plus the prices are better and no matter where I go in the US I can always find a Costco if I need assistance.

Marylou Taylor says:

You need to let people know that the “reputable Manufacturer” of the Kirkland Signature hearing aids is not supporting the brand and you can’t get parts. So I am wearing a small tube and tip on one side and a medium on the other. We have ordered the medium but don’t hold out much hope that the order will ever be filled. One of the small tips came off and lodged in my ear canal….COSTO staff isn’t allowed to get it out so I had to go to a DR. I just do not know what to do now. I cannot afford to replace my hearing aids after only 2 years.

Rick Nelson says:

I buy a lot of “stuff” and do a lot of research when I do and I will say Dr. Cliff is the most fair and non-biased youtube reviewers, bar none. I’ve had the Kirkland 8.0 for a year now. I was the 3rd person to have the 8.0s delivered at my store. As a first time hearing aid user, prior to purchasing I tried the Kirklands, Rexton, Bernafon and Phonak top of the line demos in the store for about 20 minutes each walking through the store. I found no perceivable difference between the 4 brands, other than price, so I went with the Kirklands at less than half the price of the others. My initial fitting was conducted just as Dr Cliff advises and I’ve been happy ever since. I did purchase a pair of Signia Silk 7PX CIC aids a couple of months later that have similar, near identical technology but don’t work quite as well as the Kirklands due to the occlusion of the CIC fiting vs BTE. 11 months after my initial fitting Costo called me to let me know it was time to come in for an annual hearing re-check, cleaning and adjustment of my 8.0s all free of charge. When my 3 year warranty is up I will certainly buy my next set of hearing aids from Costco.

kenneth widmer says:

I have Costco hearing aids. The best part is their free loss replacement for the first year after purchase. I live in Alaska and lost both my hearing aids due to our recent earthquake. Costco replaced them. I have noticed that there is a definite difference in the skill of the technicians. If you are not happy with the hearing aids ask to see a different technician.

jason kitchen says:

Not having insurance at the time, I chose costco for my hearing aids. $7000 phonaks cost me only $4000 cash at costco and the audiologist and testing was the best I have ever experienced. another advantage was the 3 year no questions replacement warranty which helped when I lost one of my hearing aids outside. I have amazing insurance now with a no limit no co-pay coverage for hearing aids so I’m getting the top of the line Oticon opn hearing aids through an actual ent clinic but so far costco seems much more knowledgeable and better equipped. I hope I’m not wasting an insurance claim on junk when I already know my Phonak brio have proven incredible in the past 3 years I have had them, but want to make sure I’m not missing out on potential improvements. Only reason I’m not buying from Costco again is they do not process insurance, and I dont want to come out of pocket and then try to submit the claim myself. I bet this is often the case.

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