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.