Where Should You Buy Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are sold in a variety of locations—professional audiology clinics that employ doctoral-level audiologists, franchise chains and wholesale clubs, and retail stores.

While it may seem convenient to buy your hearing aids from a wholesale club or a retail store, a comprehensive hearing evaluation is a medical test, not something that typically is done at the same place where you buy your toilet paper or paper towels. Still, many people are often lured into purchasing hearing aids in this environment because they think it will be less expensive.

What many people don’t consider is that often, the top technology levels these clubs offer are slightly older technologies compared to what’s on the private market, and sometimes their higher-level products are more comparable to mid-level technologies available privately in professional audiology clinics.

At Associated Audiologists, we work with the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers, including Widex, ReSound, Phonak, Lyric, Starkey, Oticon and Signia, and we often utilize the newest hearing aids as soon as they are available to the public.

Another thing many hearing aid shoppers may not know is that the technology these wholesale clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club sell is proprietary or “locked.” This means you can only take your hearings to that specific chain for service. No other private audiologist or provider can work on your hearing aids if you buy them in a club.

At Associated Audiologists, we only sell “open” technology. This means any audiologist can check and service your hearing aids, no matter where you live.

Consumers also may not be aware that the store actually owns the results of your hearing test, not you. That means you may not be able to take your test results to another practice for a second opinion.

At Associated Audiologists, the results of your hearing examination belong to you. And if you purchase hearing aids through us, they qualify as medical devices and are exempt from sales tax, which may not be the case if you purchase hearing aids through retail outlets.

Service is a key factor that differentiates many professional clinics from discount clubs. For example, in most cases, these sellers have limited repair options and don’t offer loaners.

At Associated Audiologists, we not only have loaner hearing aids available if your hearing aids have to be sent to the manufacturer for repair, but we offer “urgent ear” hours for emergency problems or for same-day repairs. We also offer curbside service and drop boxes at our clinics for after-hours access.

Most warehouse clubs do not offer ear wax removal, provider loaners, perform tinnitus assessment and management, and dizziness and balance assessment and treatment. But, a professional practice like Associated Audiologists does

Plus, big box stores or warehouse clubs don’t accept your insurance benefits for hearing aids or offer to investigate your insurance benefits for you. Associated Audiologists has staff who are trained to check your insurance plan benefits, and provide you with a written estimate before purchase. Financing options also may be available.

Those are just a few of the reasons why price shouldn’t be the only consideration when you’re shopping for hearing aids. Studies also show that 90 percent of your success with hearing aids is related to the professional you work with.

At Associated Audiologists, our audiologists are university-trained, doctoral-level audiologists who are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and uphold a professional code of ethics. At warehouse clubs, there are a wide variety of professionals, from audiologists to hearing aid dispensers.

We also use specialized diagnostic and verification equipment, including real-ear probe microphone and speech mapping measures. These sophisticated tests independently verify how the hearing aid functions while in your ear, and ensure you aren’t getting over-amplified.

Regular follow-up visits are necessary to keep your hearing aids functioning at peak performance, but discount clubs typically don’t pre-schedule these appointments. At Associated Audiologists, we  pre-schedule your appointments with a professional audiologist.

All hearing aid purchases should include an assessment period during which the hearing aid fee is either fully refundable or has a minimum non-refundable amount if the device isn’t satisfactory. Be sure to ask about the other options available if a particular device doesn’t work out during the assessment period. Associated Audiologists offers a 45-day assessment period.

But probably the most important benefit of buying hearing aids at a professional audiology clinic such as Associated Audiologists is patient satisfaction. At Associated Audiologists, our patients consistently rate their experience with our practice at 4.9 out of 5 stars. Read our Google reviews.

Bottom line, you may feel you are spending less at a big box store, but this may come with reduced benefits, limited flexibility/service options, and most customers don’t return to buy another set.  In fact, based on industry data, only 20 to 25 percent of patients return to purchase a second set of hearing aids from a big box store/warehouse.  Good value is tied to many variables and your best value and satisfaction may be working with a doctoral-level audiologist in an independent audiology practice.

Schedule an appointment with Associated Audiologists or call 855-547-8745 to be sure you are hearing your best.