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Thread: Looking for Best HA and Source for Me

  1. #31

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    JerryR, good information. Like you I have researched HA's and learned a lot but still lack a lot of information. I am also a first time user. I pick up my Brio 2's this afternoon so I will then have some hands on experience. If I like them, I will keep them and end my search. I have a friend who has been wearing Phonak (not sure which model) for over 6 years and she picked up her new Brio 2's earlier this week. She claims they are much better than her old ones which is good news but also expected. As I stated in other posts the HA manufacturers do everything in their power to make it impossible to compare the Costco offerings with those sold by the independent audies. I think the people involved do their best to match the HA to customers needs but there is likely some bias. I would have taken the KS 7.0 brand over the Brio 2 had that been suggested. My HAS who has over 20 years in the business was very strongly pushing me to the Brio 2 based on my hearing and the ease of use. I definitely like the 6 month trial and plan to make certain that I like these HA's or they will get returned.
    250 500 750 1K 1.5K 2K 3K 4K 6K 8K
    R 55 50 55 55 60 65 85 85 80 70 SRT 60 WRS 84%@85 dB
    L 60 60 60 70 75 65 65 75 70 65 SRT 70 WRS 88%@85 dB

    Phonak Brio II 312T
    ComPilot II Air

  2. #32

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    To JerryR, I think the audi may be telling you what you want to hear, but the reality is that if she can't sell HAs because of the online competition and everybody does what you plan to do (buy online then go to a local audit for adjustment), they'll wise up (or hunker down?) and start refusing to provide people service if those people didn't buy from them. They're simply not going to be able to pay the rent and keep the lights on charging everybody $20-$30 per adjustment visit and not being able to profit handsomely from the sales of the HAs themselves. Because the online purchase is still a fairly new option that not enough people are aware of or want to go through, they may be willing to treat the one-off folks like you who do it this way. Or agree to do this service hypothetically. But once people leave in droves to the online purchase route, no sane audi will undercut their value by agreeing to provide service only and not profit from the sales.

    The more realistic scenario that's actually happening now is that they'll partner up with the online outfits to provide local support and get a cut of the sales. It happens in my case where I saw some ads from Hear.com, contacted them because I thought that the HA offering they advertised was exclusive through them only (turned out it was not), and they referred me to a local HIS who represents them for local service. But if I had bought an HA that route, it'd be Hear.com that would be negotiating the pricing with me, not the local audi. In fact that's what I did. I had 95% insurance coverage for in-network and only 70% for out-of-network provider. But Hear.com is not in-network with my insurance. So I told them that unless they match the 95% coverage for in-network, I'll find an in-network provider. The local audi stayed out of the whole negotiation between me and Hear.com. Anyway, Hear.com came back and told me they couldn't match 95% but they could give me a good discount. I told them their discount was not good enough, so I walked away. By now the local audi stepped in and told me that since I can't strike a deal with Hear.com, she'll work with me directly as an independent (not through Hear.com anymore), and will compete with the in-network and charge me the 5% out-of-pocket only same as in-network, and bill my insurance for the 70% because she's out of network. So basically she'd give me a 25% discount. Of course she padded up the price of the HAs (from the $6,200 which she charged me 5% for), to $7,200 when she submitted to my insurance to get the most for her 70%. But the insurance saw through that and refused to pay at that price. In the end, she got $3700 from them, and $310 from me, or about $4K total for the OPN1 pair.

    I recently heard from somebody else who went through a similar route, with HearingRevolution.com, who got him in touch with a local audi, and in the end he paid HearingRevolution.com $4K for his pair of OPN1. I don't know what the local audi's cut is. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's the bigger cut between them and the online outfit, simply because they pay for the local brick and mortar place and the service, and the online place simply became the referral service.

    The bottom line is that it really depends on what the competitive scenario in each situation, and the local audi can be competitive if they have to. As we can see, they even team up with the online outfits if they have to. But if the client is not cost-sensitive and willing to pay the premium, then the local audi is not going to offer the lowest price to the client if they don't have to.

    The bottom line also is that whatever price you end up paying for the HAs, the local audi has to be part of the sales in some way, somehow, to get enough of skin in the game. Teaming up with online outfits for a local presence seems to be the trend. But what the OP (JerryR) is seeing here about a local audi willing to service something they didn't sell is only a one-off thing, and is not going to be a sustainable business model for them.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 02-16-2017 at 01:30 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

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    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  3. #33

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    I just read a new thread on here http://www.hearingaidforums.com/show...d-audiologists where the OP had problems with Phonak HAs and tried to switch audi, and the new audi they asked wanted to charge $700 per ear to take over any warranty or adjustment.

    I think this is probably more in line of what most audis will want. The audi that said she'll do $20-$30 per adjustment visit is probably an outlier case.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  4. #34

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    think this is probably more in line of what most audis will want. The audi that said she'll do $20-$30 per adjustment visit is probably an outlier case.

    Nobody should buy aids thinking they can find a local AuD to adjust their aids let alone at $25 a visit.

  5. #35
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    That's true. Many/most clinics refuse to serve people who aren't their customer. Finding one who will is more the exception than the rule.
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  6. #36
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    OK, lots of questions, or maybe they're rhetorical? I do believe that different manufacturers of hearing aids have different qualities and features (bluetooth, better implementation of frequency shifting, bicros, etc., and I do believe that hearing aids have improved over the years. I also believe that sorting out all of the features and marketing hype is not a task that can really be accomplished objectively. I don't claim that the KS7s are the best out there, although I do believe as you allude, that they are an impressive value. They are a current generation hearing aid that uses similar hardware to premium aids from Signia. Why would people buy something different? Lots of reasons. Like you, they may have had a bad experience at Costco (although most people are very pleased with Costco) As I mentioned, different hearing aids have different qualities and one may appeal to somebody more than another and some may suit a particular person's loss more than another. They may really like their audiologist and want to go with their recommendation. They may want to own a "top of the line" hearing aid and not care what it costs. Just as with other products, different things appeal to different people and marketing plays a large part in that. I think implied in your essay is how does Costco offer them so inexpensively. I think the main answer is volume. First they simplify. They don't offer different battery sizes or models. The KS7 is a 312 based RIC. It's aimed at a big market. If you want a CIC or a high power BTE, you need to look at another aid. This simplification means they are ordering a lot of the same model. They purchase a lot of hearing aids and can negotiate a very good price. They sell so many they don't need to make much on any one sale. They don't need to advertise either as they have tremendous customer traffic. So, no I don't think the KS7 is the best hearing aid out there, but I do believe it is an impressive value. Explaining consumer behavior is not something that necessarily has a rational explanation. Why do people spend thousands of dollars on "fine wine" when blind taste tests show they can't tell the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by JerryR View Post
    Thanks for the info MDB. As a first-time user, I suspect that initially (for a couple of months?) I could not tell the difference models/manufacturers/namebrands, or perhaps I could. But, if any user, experienced or new, can't distinguish in use between different models/manufacturers, then why do the manufacturers try to develop more features at higher costs? Are some of the newest features truly worthless, or don't work? I thought I had read quite a few users who remarked that when they moved up to newer models they felt a significant improvement. So, some of them feel the new features are worthwhile. But how to sort out between the various "names and numbers" used to identify various products and what is really in them and is worthwhile? It's very confusing. And, if the K7s are truly the best device out there feature-wise and performance-wise, why would ANYONE use anything else? After all, the K7s are selling for $1700 a pair. A price for best-in-class Hearing Aids that I don't think can be beat anywhere. In fact, it's $1200 cheaper than you can get the Signia Primax 7 for from an online retailer. That's phenomenal! No one should ever get anything else -- but they do. Why?
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

    15 15 20 30 30 55 75 90 NR ​KS7
    10 10 20 15 25 35 65 85 95 WRS 100/92@45/40

  7. #37

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    MDB, I think you are correct in what you write. The way my HAS at Costco explained it to me is that while all of the HA's they sell are by definition "premium", meaning they meet certain feature criteria, they do not all do the same things for the individual. She had good things to say about all of the HA's they sell, however she said she would not sell the KS 6.0 model. Her reluctance was that it had omitted too many features that she felt were important and that competing manufacturers included. I don't remember the strong points of each HA but I do recall that Resound had the best algorithm for high frequency loss, but only if that was the only issue the user had which is certainly not my situation. She clearly has a bias for Phonak, in part due to it's automatic program. She doesn't even see a need for any manual programs which is why she excluded them, except for the T-coil. As good as the automatic program is I still am going to have her install some manual ones as well. She also likes the way the HA handles the high frequency that I cannot hear and moves it into a lower frequency. She liked the fact that the KS 7.0 can control the direction of the microphones to the satisfaction of the user. She used an example of a trial lawyer need to focus intently on what someone was saying with little regard for extraneous noise. The Brio 2 does this automatically but I am going to have her install a program that gives me more control. I don't mind doing some manual adjustments but she thinks she can get the settings perfect and there will be no need to do anything manually, in my case I disagree. She has 22 years of experience and is the senior HAS at my Costco which has 5 hearing booths so I respect the fact that she should be very informed. I think I read somewhere that Costco sells over 3 million HA's per year and reportedly works on a 15% profit margin on Kirkland labeled products. I know the independent audies were up in arms when Costco started selling the Phonak HA's at prices that were barely above their wholesale cost. Good for us bad for them.

    I am now on day 3 of my trial, I like them a little better than I did at first but I hope my expectations are not too high. They don't seem to sound in rooms hard floor and high ceiling very well, when my wife speaks to me it is very loud. I have to tell her to speak softly, maybe after 35 years of yelling she has gotten used to my poor hearing and needs to be retrained just like me They seem to pick up too much background noise. If I am outside and a car drives by it sounds like a huge tractor-trailer. I was out with friends at a sports bar and the background noise was loud but I could easily hear people around me. Wadding up a sheet of paper sounds like fireworks. Maybe I will adjust or maybe some of this can fixed when I return to Costco.
    250 500 750 1K 1.5K 2K 3K 4K 6K 8K
    R 55 50 55 55 60 65 85 85 80 70 SRT 60 WRS 84%@85 dB
    L 60 60 60 70 75 65 65 75 70 65 SRT 70 WRS 88%@85 dB

    Phonak Brio II 312T
    ComPilot II Air

  8. #38
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    Your complaints are the same ones all of us complained about. It is part of the learning curve. Give it a month before asking for changes. Right now you can't explain what is really a newness to sound. If it becomes seriously objectionable, ask her to set the aid volume lower and then have it automatically increment to the proper volume which will give the relief you feel you need.
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  9. #39

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    IMHO, too many new users worry way more about the spec's then about how the aids work for THEM! Also, they expect instant success. Don't worry about how they made the bagels in the kitchen after tasting a few buy the one you like best.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Jake View Post
    IMHO, too many new users worry way more about the spec's then about how the aids work for THEM! Also, they expect instant success. Don't worry about how they made the bagels in the kitchen after tasting a few buy the one you like best.
    I wish it were as simple as tasting bagels. Each trial takes weeks or months and users need to pony up thousands of dollars for the privilege. So using the specs and pricing and options to select and narrow down which one to try first, then which one next, then next, is still an important process to go through, however.

    But I agree that users tend to expect instant success (especially the more money they pay for the HAs). I'm guilty of it myself. But mfgs are also to blame for hyping up their marketing too much sometimes, or incorrectly sometimes, causing incorrect expectation from consumers.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

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