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Thread: First time shopping for a hearing aid? Your reactions?

  1. Unhappy First time shopping for a hearing aid? Your reactions?

    I visited an audiologist for the first time and literally felt like I was shopping for a used car. It included deceptive sales practices, pressure to purchase that day and lack of sufficient information.

    I'm curious what your experience has been.

  2. #2

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    I found a very good and very honest audiologist who did not go down that road, fortunately. You are not alone, though. Lots of recent and older threads to read on this topic here and well worth the time given the cost of aids. You'll learn a lot including how to find more honest shops.

    I'm curious. My theory is that a lot of the audiologists who go down this road do a lot of free this-or-that or discount this-or-that promotions. Looking back, was there a hook that drew you into this shop where these tactics were used?

    As I'm sure you realize, you were right to leave. You were definitely seeing run-don't-walk red flags.
    2013 Audiogram
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  3. #3
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    Similar experience to yours, Costco was the least pressure sales pitch.
    Oticon Agil Pro w/streamer

    -250 500 1000 1500 2000 3000 4000 6000 8000
    L 10--5----10----30---50----70----85---80---80
    R 5--10----20----35---45----85----85--100--100

    SP Disc ------------- SRT
    L 88% @55db ------- L-10
    R 90% @55db------- R-25

  4. #4

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    I 'shopped' 4 different providers before I settled on Costco...and I purchased as much for my feeling about the audiologist as anything else. One of the places I shopped called me later for a follow-up, and I was honest with them and said I had purchased at Costco. He immediately said he would beat the Costco price by $500. He said to bring in the receipt and he'd make the deal. I told him that if he could do that, that's the price he should have given me in the first place. I have been completely satisfied with my decision.

  5. Default worst experience

    I am going in tomorrow to order my hearing aids, after visiting a number of audiologists (including the one in my ENTs office), and being terribly put off by the entire experience. I have found one that I think will be good - I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed.
    Overall, I found the process to be worse than shoping for a car. At least going to buy a car, I anticipate being distrustful of the salespeople. Here, I naively begain this with the assumption that these "health care professionals" would somehow be different. That hase not been my experience. Most of the professionals I met came across as slick salepeople, out to make the biggest sale possible. In many cases, they were arrogant to the point of telling me that I am asking too many "technical" questions, and to leave that to them [by the way, that professional arrogance also comes across on this site, in some of the posts made by the pros]. Seems that we "patients" ought to just plunk down our money and leave the thinking to those who are more qualified.
    Don't misunderstand me - I appreciate the information that I have found on this site, as it cannot be found elsewhere. And I particularly appreciate the information sent to me in private messages by one or two of the professional on the site. But what I am now calling the "audiologist attitude" rings through loud and clear here as well as in the offices of the pros that I have met. The worst offender was a local office affiliated with Audigy group, where it was impossible to get straight answer on pricing for any product other than the "AGX" technology, whatever that may be (could not get a straight answer on that, either, other than "this is perfect for your hearing loss"). That was the first audiologist that I saw; once I went to a couple of others, I learned that this AGX technology, made by some unspecified company, would cost me nearly $3000 more than "name brand" products. When I asked why it was so much more, I was again told that this is the best of the best, better than the name brands!
    I did on several occasions think about just forgetting it, and not getting hearing aids if this is what I had to go through. Eventually, I happened upon someone that seems honest, who does not mind answering questions and whose pricing is affordable, so I an giving it a shot. I hope it works out, but I truly wish that I never had to deal with the audiology profession or the hearing aid distribution network. I am sure I will be
    criticized here for having the effrontery to speak disparagingly of audiologists, but that's life. I will let you know how life with hearing aids is once I get them.

  6. #6
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    IslandGuy,
    I think your experience is very similar to what most of us have gone though. I would not be surprised to find audiologist who put themselves though school selling used cars or had it as a prerequisite to getting into the audiologist program,so they could learn the tricks of the trade. Finding an audiologist that lays it out honestly and knows what they are doing is truly the hardest part in the whole process. What the HA user needs is a place they can go that says for your hearing loss these are the hearing aids that will work for you and this is the price you should be paying for them and until that comes along we will be left with the used car salesman approach. Hopefully, with the more Costco's and Sam's that come online with their more reasonable prices,long trial periods ,generous return policies and no pressure sales approaches more audiologist will learn that people get turned off by deception, gouging and keeping their patients in the dark about the products they are selling. We can hope can't we?
    Oticon Agil Pro w/streamer

    -250 500 1000 1500 2000 3000 4000 6000 8000
    L 10--5----10----30---50----70----85---80---80
    R 5--10----20----35---45----85----85--100--100

    SP Disc ------------- SRT
    L 88% @55db ------- L-10
    R 90% @55db------- R-25

  7. #7
    DocAudio Guest

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    AGX = Starkey.

    There are no sales courses included in any audiological programs (there are courses on how to run a business but these do not deal with sales techniques at all), anywhere because we are health care professionals and do a great deal more than fit hearing aids. In actuality, most states that have dedicated HIS courses DO include quite a bit of instruction on sales/salesmanship techniques. The places you all are going where you experience this "used car salesman approach" Is NOT taught in the doctoral programs. That is a function of a BUSINESS model that they develop, NOT the medical field of audiology.

    I understand that it is very difficult to separate the two, but there is a difference between the audiologists who approach dispensing of hearing aids from a medical-model approach which should mirror the method seb actually mentions (present options appropriate for them and give specific pricing) and how I approach hearing aid sales and a business model approach where it may be more like the experience that many people on here, including Island Guy, experienced. Audiologists who chose to follow a strictly-business approach are somewhat abandoning what is at the heart of our education and that is to, first and foremost, help our patients.
    Last edited by DocAudio; 02-17-2012 at 12:48 PM. Reason: changed info...

  8. #8
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    I meant to add to my previous post that the contributing audiologist and HIS on this forum seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and I say this because they offer their advice and expertise because they truly want to help those in need and have always offered an honest assessment of what they feel would benefit the person asking for help and have come right out and said they prefer one HA over another and usually given a reason why. For these reasons they should be models for those wanting to enter the field.
    Oticon Agil Pro w/streamer

    -250 500 1000 1500 2000 3000 4000 6000 8000
    L 10--5----10----30---50----70----85---80---80
    R 5--10----20----35---45----85----85--100--100

    SP Disc ------------- SRT
    L 88% @55db ------- L-10
    R 90% @55db------- R-25

  9. Default Thanks, DocAudio, but ...

    what you are describing is simply not what we laypersons are experiencing as we shop for hearing aids. I suspect that the issue may not be simiply that the dispensers (whether they are audiologists, or whatever name) are unscrupulous, it may in fact be that while YOU believe that you are dispensing a medical device (and that is what we are hoping that we are purchasing), these devices are being marketed and sold in much the same way as other electronics products, with the major missing element being price competiton. We are essentially beholden to this marketing and sales (business model, in your words) approach and, for the most part, we are being confronted with quasi-professionals who are primarily interested in bigger ticket sales. In all of my own shopping, each time I asked about a mid-level device rather than the very top of the line, I was scoffed at, with an arrogant and condescending attititude that would put most car salesmen to shame. I have the misfortune, I suppose, of not being stupid - I therefore tend to ask questions, which never seem to upset my medical doctors, who actually welcome my quesitons and are happy to explain what they propose doing and why. Not so with the audiologists that I have encountered, who are put off by and indeed seem offended by the questions, as if to say "how dare you question my judgement about how you should be spending your money." To reiterate, the practice model that you describe may be the ideal and the model that responsible members of your profession hope to emulate, but the reality is far different. And that reality may be partly the reason that so many people who need hearing aids shun them. The prospect of continued dealings with most of the hearing aid professionals that I have encountered is, frankly, supremely unappealing.
    Last edited by IslandGuy; 02-17-2012 at 02:44 PM.

  10. #10
    DocAudio Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by IslandGuy View Post
    what you are describing is simply not what we laypersons are experiencing as we shop for hearing aids. I suspect that the issue may not be simiply that the dispensers (whether they are audiologists, or whatever name) are unscrupulous, it may in fact be that while YOU believe that you are dispensing a medical device (and that is what we are hoping that we are purchasing), these devices are being marketed and sold in much the same way as other electronics products, with the major missing element being price competiton. We are essentially beholden to this marketing and sales (business model, in your words) approach and, for the most part, we are being confronted with quasi-professionals who are primarily interested in bigger ticket sales. In all of my own shopping, each time I asked about a mid-level device rather than the very top of the line, I was scoffed at, with an arrogant and condescending attititude that would put most car salesmen to shame. I have the misfortune, I suppose, of not being stupid - I therefore tend to ask questions, which never seem to upset my medical doctors, who actually welcome my quesitons and are happy to explain what they propose doing and why. Not so with the audiologists that I have encountered, who are put off by and indeed seem offended by the questions, as if to say "how dare you question my judgement about how you should be spending your money." To reiterate, the practice model that you describe may be the ideal and the model that responsible members of your profession hope to emulate, but the reality is far different. And that reality may be partly the reason that so many people who need hearing aids shun them. The prospect of continued dealings with most of the hearing aid professionals that I have encountered is, frankly, supremely unappealing.
    I'm sorry that was your experience. I will say though, that an audiologist is not a "quasi-professional" even if you feel that their sales tactics are despicable (and I'd agree if they scoffed at mid-level tech and told you not to worry about cost...ridiculous). The actions of, what, the few on this board that have experienced this, should not be held to represent an entire industry. There are thousands of audiologists in this country and to say that the negative experiences by those on this board is representative of the entire profession is really ridiculous.

    But this discussion has been had over and over on here so I don't want to go into it again. I will (and you might feel I do so naively) continue to believe that the majority of my colleagues operate in a manner that is most beneficial to the patient...because those are the people I deal with on a regular basis....not the ones you describe. In 14 years, most of the audiologists I've encountered that dispense hearing aids do so in an ethical, patient-centered way.

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