Costco Hearing Aids – Before You Buy, Please Read

Are you willing to buy a “locked” hearing aid? Costco hearing aids are “locked.” Let me explain. There are only six major hearing aid manufacturers in the world. All of the major hearing aid manufacturers offer effective, high quality products with leading edge technologies. Beyond these six, there are a myriad of other brands and private labeled (Costco included) hearing aids available. The six major hearing aid manufacturer brands for the USA are: Many large retail sales organizations, like Costco, “Private Label” or “Rebrand” hearing aids manufactured by the Big Six. Private labeling employs a similar retail concept to grocery stores and the National Name Brands verses generic Supermarket Brands. Supermarket products may be similar in use and the differences from the National Brand may be negligible. In the hearing aid world, large retail sales chains such as Costco (Kirkland), Beltone, Miracle Ear, Audibel are all Private Labels or developed separate brands, but still made by one of the Big Six hearing aid manufacturers. Below I list some of the more common Private Label or Rebranded hearing aids and their manufacturer. Private Label / Retail Sales Chain Name / National Brand manufacturer:
  • HearO / Avada mfg’d by Oticon
  • Arris / Avada mfg’d by Oticon
  • BluLink / Avada mfg’d by Oticon
  • AGX / Audigy Group mfg’d by Oticon & Starkey
  • Audibel mfg’d by Starkey
  • Sonus mfg’d by Most of the Big Six
  • Kirkland / Costco mfg’d by Sivantos
  • Future / Costco mfg’d by GN/ReSound
  • Miracle Ear mfg’d by Sivantos
  • Beltone mfg’d by GN/ReSound

Primary reasons for the Private Labeling of hearing aids:

  • A unique brand name makes comparing features and prices difficult.
  • Locked programming software only allows consumer to be serviced by the specific Private Label vendor.
There are significant considerations to purchasing Private label hearing aids. Most Private Labeled hearing aids are “locked” and can only be serviced and programmed at the specific retail chain where purchased. The hearing aid user is “locked-in” to that company. For example, if you bought Costco hearing aids, you have no choice as to where you can go for service except to Costco. If you decide you would like to see a different hearing care professional for any reason, you’re stuck. If you transfer jobs, move residences, or travel out of the area, you’re stuck.

Is the Costco trade off worth it?

I don’t think so. No doubt that up front you can save some money compared to local audiologists and other hearing care providers. In the long run, will your quest for long-term better hearing be well served?

Discount Hearing Aid Pricing Without Being “Locked-In”

Consider online retailers such as  Better Hearing Store offers deeply discounted National Name Brand hearing aids and Private Label hearing aids at discount prices that are more affordable than most hearing care providers and the hearing aids are NOT “locked”. Also Better Hearing Store has offered remote programming and support services since 2006, they seem to be the leader in this type of cutting age technology and direct to the consumer hearing aid support. For more information on National Name Brand hearing aids from Better Hearing Store, contact them during their regular business hours (9-5 Eastern Time, USA) at 1-800-416-2434. In today’s hearing aid marketplace, anytime I hear the word “locked” I substitute “no options”. Locked hearing aids, no matter how well they work, are designed to capture the customer first, and render their advertised service second. Ultimately, consumers control any free market. As long as “name brands” sell, the marketplace will offer locked hearing aids. Luckily, for the hearing impaired consumer, the selection of hearing aids is no longer limited to the locked brands carried by local hearing aid offices, no matter how many offices they have. One-by-one, major hearing aid manufacturers are allowing their products to be marketed by certain qualified Internet retailers and some are even embracing the union. Soaring sales of basic, unlocked, hearing aids over the Internet are forcing manufacturers of premium locked hearing aids to take notice. An issue for the major hearing aid manufacturers will be to only allowing their premium products to be sold by internet hearing aid dealers that can adequately support and service their products. While many hearing aid manufacturers have not unlocked their proprietary programming software, they have given users control of their hearing aid sound settings through smartphone apps. The introduction of smartphone apps for hearing aids is a game changer. Even some basic hearing aids are compatible with smartphone apps. As data streaming technology continues to advance, the reasons to make an appointment and fight traffic only to sit in a waiting room until it’s your turn for a five-minute adjustment continues to decline. The reasons to be able to adjust your own hearing aids in changing sound environments are too many to count.