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The $14000 /£9000 Hearing Aids

This picture shows the 4 most common Types of ...

This picture shows the 4 most common Types of zinc-air button cells, used in hearing aids. While the number noted is manufacturer-independent, the prefixes and suffixes of the numbers aren’t and may differ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cool huh?  Some poor guy was made to pay $14000 for a pair of hearing-aids.  This was the boast of an audiologist at a convention in the UK about 3 years ago.

The good news is the customer won in the end.   Can you imagine how much customer service you can demand for that price?!  24-hour service available when you want.  The audiologist was forced by the customer to drop everything else he was doing and sort out every tiny problem that normally you would wait until Monday to do.  And he wanted them fixed like immediately.  Well you would.  $14000 is so far over average, it is a stupid price.  a greedy price.  It’s rare.

Most audiologists want a fair price.  They buy from a network, have a shop’s overheads, a life to live and they sell them on.  Of course they have expertise and are interested in your particular hearing- loss, but their job is to find a hearing-aid that suits your hearing issue.  It is like any other industry.  The audiologists know which hearing-aids are the best like you know who the geeks are.  If you want to try a different brand to the one you’re offered, ask about it.  You should get an explanation about how suitable it is or not to your hearing issue.

What’s the average price? It depends on where you’re buying.  You can get really cheap $10/£0.99 aids online that will not fit any ear; they are cheats.  The way to buy is to have a hearing test, have a mould taken and then the aid is added.  How you buy online without doing the first two steps I don’t understand.  Do you agree?

Professional Hearing Aid Audiologists are usually registered with an association.  In the UK the Health Professionals Council has taken on audiologists as of June 2010.  There is BSHAA* and AIHHP*.  They need to make a living same as everyone else.

Unfortunately the big companies in the hearing market are trying to stamp out independent choice by starting with zero, adding  $£1 for staff and nothing for research and development.  They sell at prices no independent Audiologist can buy at.  The result drags down quality as bigger companies look for ways of cutting the price.  We all lose out in the end.  Personally, I want quality in a hearing-aid and no messing about.

You might be tempted to go directly to the manufacturer.  Forget it.  They make the device.  Fitting it is a different skill.  After-sales service is something they run a mile from although some are starting to offer help-lines.  Most will blame any buzzing on equipment like phones and hearing-loops.  They could of course make them interference-proof, if it is not too much trouble.

In Europe, namely France, you’re given 400 Euros towards hearing-aids.  Some people are going over the border into Belgium to buy cheaper aids than they can buy in France.  That won’t help the market.  Again, they’ve made the customer focus on price.  We want the focus on quality as that will make them innovate into better hearing-aids.  We don’t want cheap components or cheaply made plastic or even dubious plastic that doesn’t comply with EU standards.  Who do you think is checking?  The Hearing-Aid Council was considered a quango in the UK for customers’ complaints and was  axed.   The Health Professionals Council issues standards for audiologists, but what about hearing-aids?    And what do you think is a fair price?

  • BSHAA – *(mouthful alert) British Society of Hearing Aid Acousticians, AIHHP – Association of Independent Hearing Health Professionals –
  • Hearing Loss Association of America – http://www.hearingloss.org –  Do you know them?
  • Audiology Now is a magazine for professionals, not for the squeamish
  • There are not many related articles today as they are all about buying hearing-aids online – sorry, we don’t agree with that.
  • Hearing aids ‘could truly benefit dementia patients’ (moneysavingguides.com) – HWB says it only helps some types of dementia and hearing-aids are described here  o-n-l-y to help them know what’s going on around them.  HWB never recommends hearing-aid distributors.  We are independent.