Alera 9- online pricing

I am testing a pair of Alera 9 wireless hearing aids. I got them from a local Resound dealer. The price I was given was $2945 each. I have since found the same hearing aid being advertised on the TruHearing web site for $2595. Hearing Planet is asking $2799. Hearing Revolution is asking $1995!! Has anyone had any experience with these vendors?

It is also interesting that some folks think the Future, sold by Costco, is the same aid as the Alera 9. They are a lot less than the price I got at the dealer.

Would love to hear some feedback.

Mudwasp

IMHO, $2,945 is way too much! I paid $2k/each for my Alera 9s. I’ve never used Hearing Revolution, but previously read that they have contract audiologists in most areas of the US and will direct you to a local contract audiologist who agrees to sell you the aids for that price.

I’m trying the Resound Future (Alera) from Costco. So far, so good. $1299 each. Phone clip is $169.

I agree, IMO, it’s maybe 10-15% high, unless it includes the wireless Unite accessory kit (Bluetooth for phone, wireless TV/PC sound transmitter, remote) which may run about $500-$600 and will likely not be included at those web prices, as it is an optional accessory, though most agree it’s worth getting with Alera.

On the other hand, if you buy on the web, what do you get in the way of adjustments and support? Your post doesn’t indicate how much experience you have with hearing aids, so I’m erring on the side of caution and assuming it’s none, in which case, be advised: Aids are not like eyeglasses, which usually work quite well after the initial fitting. Many people want/need a few–maybe half a dozen–adjustment appointments, especially for their first pair of aids. Some websites link up to local audiologists for adjustments.

You want to know what the deal is going in so you know you have the support you need without any online savings getting eaten up by adjustment fees or long delays in round trip shipping to Internet vendors. You may want to call some other audiologists in your area and see if you can do any better on price. BUT a skilled audiologist can make the difference between a good fitting and an ineffective one and so may be worth some price premium to you.

SOME say the Alera 9 and Costco’s Future are identical, but no one here has confirmed for sure what the differences are, and I bet few individuals anywhere know for sure. It’s very possible the Future is closer to the Alera 5 or 7 than the flagship 9. ReSound is NOT likely to share that info on the record. ReSound wants the best of both worlds: service-driven customers who buy from private audiologists, and price-driven customers who buy from Costco. It’s in ReSound’s interest as well as their vendors’ interests to be vague on this point.

Thanks to IMHO and HAMJOR for your replies. Much appreciated. I have been wearing HA for 30 years now. Never thought of searching the web for a provider. After calling one firm, I would wind up paying $400 less per Aid and would see the same Audi I am going to now! Go figure! I would also get a 5 years supply of batteries. I see the Audi tomorrow…will have an interesting conversation with him.

Thanks to IMHO and HAMJOR for your replies. Much appreciated. I have been wearing HA for 30 years now. Never thought of searching the web for a provider. After calling one firm, I would wind up paying $400 less per Aid and would see the same Audi I am going to now! Go figure! I would also get a 5 years supply of batteries. I see the Audi tomorrow…will have an interesting conversation with him.

Would you mind to share the online store name with whome you are buying your HA? It may help others to get it cheaper that way.

I called Hearing Revolution. The audi they would send me to is one that came highly recommended by someone in the know. So that’s reassuring. Hearing Revolution offers one year of unlimited adjustments. After that you pay for each visit. I still think that the lower cost of the aids balances things out in their favor. I know I didn’t need a lot of adjustments after the first year of wearing my aids.

I am on a way to buy Resound future from Costco. The audi there called and confirm that it is Alera 9. If you go to resound site and compare the features then they are kind of identical except the 12 channel on future but the audi says it indeed has 17 channels but it is just marketing that Resound advertise for 17 and costco says it has 12.

Bikey,
Be careful! My information tells me that the Future is somewhere between the Alera 5 and 7. There are subltle differences in programming and firmware. If they work well for you fine. But understand you are NOT getting a 9.

The Future seems to be closer to the Alera 9 than any other model. It has their natural directionality 2 and 4 programs (Alera 7 has 3 programs?). Costco’s history also leads me to believe they sell the premium model only and not the whole line. It’s probably not in Resound’s interests to make it too clear, though.

If someone could tell me some definitive things to look for in the software to show whether it is the Alera 9 or not I’ll take a look next time I go for an adjustment. These Futures are working out pretty well so it may be a while.

See my post #13 at:

However, there is also something else to consider. A person who I certainly consider “in the know” at Resound told me that just because an option exists in two different lines doesn’t mean that the code/algorithms are identical! It was further explained to me that the alternate lines may receive older code, a beta code, or even slightly crippled code when compared to the flagship model.

Also, it’s generally considered that the Costco Future is an 861 in that it’s functionality lies between an Alera 7 and an Alera 9. Options wise, it’s definitely greater than a 7.

My guess, and this is only a guess, is it is functionally identical to the Alera 9 for these reasons.

  1. The chip is new so the new features would all be new code. It’s possible some old coding followed into the new chip but if so, probably not changed between the two models. Old code could be things like program changes, notification sounds, basic self-test.
  2. I doubt Costco would go for beta code. They are more like put it out there, get it working, then we’ll take it.
  3. Crippled code, while possible, would introduce a complexity into their internal support. Every time something minor is changed in the code it would have to also be changed and tested in the crippled code and because of the crippling, may perform differently and therefore require a custom additional change (more cost and risk). Personally I hate maintaining duplicate programs that are almost the same.
  4. “Named” features are probably the same on both because, for example, if you call it “Natural Directionality II” on both and one is crippled and that model is compared to the competition it may look bad for everything named “ND II”. Differences would have to come from some of the vague descriptions of features. Not likely they would cripple the “name” features.
  5. Costco pushes “premium” models and they want them cheap so they can sell them cheap. After something is in production the cheapest way to provide Costco with an additional model is to just provide the current model with a different name, color, etc. If you have to engineer and test a different model it adds cost and risk that it will not perform as well.

So again, my guess is that the major functions are identical but there may be some features, more minor, that are different so they can tell private audiologists it’s not the same as the Alera 9 and still tell Costco it works just like an Alera 9. I still don’t think it’s in their interests to make it clearer.

Don, I have it on pretty good authority that the algorithms for most of the features are not new, but instead taken from the Coyote line and recompiled/adapted for the Range processor.

Agreed, it’s not in their interest to do so publically.

It is not about the price that someone is quoting you. Hearing aids aren’t like a TV where you can bargain shop from store to store and try and find the lowest price–once you purchase a TV, that’s it you take it home and use it and you have no long-term relationship with the person you purchased them from. Hearing aids are medical devices and you have to consider the relationship which you will be having with the person fitting them and working with you. Are they going to meet your demands now and a couple years from now if something happens to the devices? Are they trustworthy and compassionate? Do they listen to your needs? Would you purchase a pacemaker or hip replacement hardware from someone who wasn’t as qualified because it was cheaper?

If you are comparing prices from clinic to clinic, make sure you are comparing apple to apples. Different geographical regions may have different prices and be sure you are comparing the same models of hearing aids too. Also, various professionals may have different experience (ex: hearing instrument specialist/HIS vs. Audiologist/Doctor of Audiology).

Regarding Costco, it is true that some warehouses have dispensing personnel there and carry the device compared to other Resound hearing aids–the Future. Although the Future is made by Resound, this devices is not nearly the same as the Alera, which comes in 3 levels of technology (basic, mid and advanced). When comparing the devices side by side, the Futures is actually a lower technology than the basic Alera hearing aid and uses some of the older technology for speech processing–which means less quality digital processing, poorer sound quality and most importantly poorer performance in background noise! Also, Costco hearing aids can ONLY be programmed at Costco. So what happens if you are unsatisfied with your care and would like to see someone else? What happens if you move and are no longer close to a Costco? And again, I use the example of another medical device–Would you purchase a pacemaker from a warehouse that also sells toilet paper and vacuums??

Also, some people mention purchasing hearing aids on the internet. While, they may be cheaper, you have to remember you are only paying for the devices and the hardware. At most clinics, hearing aid prices also reflect the lifetime office visits and experience that is needed to fit the devices. If you do decide to purchase hearing aids from the internet, you will need to take them to a qualified Audiologist or HIS to have them fit, which they would then likely charge you professional fees either per visit for a “lifetime adoption” type fee.

I hope this helps. I enjoy reading everyone’s questions and concerns and hopefully my experience and advice will help!

I agree that the relationship with your professional is the most important part of the process, more important even than the features of the particular hearing aid brand.

I detect a little criticism there of Costco when you refer to their audiologists as dispensing personnel. I’m sure the qualifications of the personnel vary from store to store, just as it varies in private dispensers. My experience with my Costco audiologist has been very good.

Your comments about the Future do not jive with what I’m seeing.
The features in the software (Aventa 3) for the Future match up with the Alera 9. The only difference in the specs that I see is the warranty. The Future comes with a 24 month loss and damage warranty, instead of a 36 month in the Alera. I am getting great results with mine, and I’m pretty difficult.

Could some of the programming be different? Yes, it could but it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to maintain a separate line of code for the Future. What would be the point? I think “different code” is just something they can say without it really being different enough to matter.

Resound is telling private audiologists, don’t worry, it’s not really an Alera, we are taking care of you and at the same time, they are telling Costco, it is an Alera 9. So both sides think they have the real, inside information.

Again, I don’t think Resound will make it more clear. We will all just have to believe what we want to believe.

About selling TP, I would also buy from Siemens and they sell grease. To me it is irrelevant that they also sell something else. The audiiologist is not cooking chickens in the back.

About moving, if I went to a private audiologist and then moved, I would be stuck. Not many audiologists will adjust a hearing aid they did not sell. At least with Costco, I have a reasonable chance of moving somewhere close to a store and they have unlimited followup visits with any store I choose.

I’m not sure I’m doing this right but here is a page that has the Future/Alera features matched up, from a prior discussion. See Delmar’s post.

KTM and Husaberg are 2 brands of motorcycle owned by the same company. All of the radical inovations are tried out on the Husaberg and if they are good enough they make it onto the KTM. This ensures the main brand is not damaged by any issues on release of a new model. I suspect Resound uses the same stratergy with the Future model

Costco is more inclined to let something hit the streets, make sure it works fine, then they will carry it. It doesn’t seem to be their culture to be the beta site. I think Resound is just trying to take care of two markets. They have this large buyer willing to carry their product but they also have these local audiologists they need to keep happy, so they re-badge it and recompile it as a different model so the regular software doesn’t recognize it.