Seems like irony that someone in their middle 70s would be a beginner at anything but here I am. My hearing has become a frustration for me and I am sure worse for the people I talk with. So I start my search like a true rookie with little knowledge trying to gather information that challenges like this (who knew) usually require. I spent about 15 minutes reading a few items from Dr Google and decided my local ENT doctors will simply perform the service for which they are well paid. My local ENT group (The jolly green giant) probably controls 80% plus of the eye, ear, nose, and throat business here and I have used them happily for my eyes for 25+ years. Without going thur a long story I saw the MD - took the hearing test- saw the MD again - was sent to the audi (the person who sells the HA). She ask a few questions (like 4 or 5) and then handed me something that looked like a contract and said I needed a $3800 hearing aid. There was NO DISCUSSION about brand, model, or what this $3800 was suppose to do for me. To be VERY polite, this entire process was far too “casual”. The “examination- test -exam again -sales” gave me NO IDEA what had happened or what was to happen next other than my purchase of a HA. Everyone that saw my paperwork seemed to be happy that my insurance would pay the 1st $2500 and I suppose everyone was sure I was going to buy from them. Much of this may have been my fault since I had no idea what to expect or ask.
I go home and spend some serious time with Dr Google and discover there are a lot of professionals in the HA business that are not so professional and it would be my job to uncover which was which and choose whats best for me. After a few days of this I make a small mistake and visited a local hearing office and had two strokes of luck. She had an appointment cancel about the time I walked in and she was a professional that I took seriously. Although her prices seemed very high but I latter i discovered they were not that bad. She spent about 45 minutes with me as her student and I did manage to assemble enough information to direct my research to help me make a semi-informed decision. I plan to go to her office and pay her $40 for her time - it is and was greatly appreciated.
Step 3: choosing a hearing aid and where to purchase
My 1st question ended up being “what do I want a hearing aid to do” since there always seems to be a compromise: (seems like I am getting a little smarter)
1- talking on the phone
2- Watch TV
3- hearing in moderately noisy environment
4- ease of use (hopefully idiot proof)
5- quality of sound
There are other considerations but these are the things most important to me. Now, how do I decide who to buy from and slightly more important what to buy. Back to Dr Google – and careful review of the features “claimed” by the mfg and do they actually work as advertised. I have an extensive marketing background that includes doing business with the largest retailers in the US and much of this was as owner of my company for the last 40+ years. The marketing approach of making it difficult to compare products has been in practice for many years and by a lot more companies than you realize. I found it a simple task to narrow my selection to three models and now I need to find a reliable source that not only will perform the set up task and service when needed and at at a good price. I quickly eliminated the “internet” choices.
Over the years I have discovered that when someone is trying to sell me something they will almost always talk down one of their competitors or products. (there are a lot of techniques to help that along) When ALL of them bring up one company - it is time to take a good look at that “good for nothing low life crooks at XYZ company”. I made my decision- The Phonak Marvel m90 - time to buy
Step 4: Costco - too much savings not to look
I called and made an appointment for a hearing test and even stopped at the Costco hearing aid center and picked up some brochures to study before my hearing test. I studied a lot for this test- just kidding sort of but I was not expecting very much from Costco other than a chance to save a lot of money.
BOY- was I wrong. Everything and I mean everything was done at a professional level. The hearing test was FAR MORE IN DEPTH that the EMT doctors and explanations of everything that the test covered and questions about “what was important” to me. All the good thing about “what to look for” that I found on the internet were being covered here in a extensive session that left no questions unanswered. The audi programed a Phonax Brio 3 and gave it to me to wear around the store while my bride shopped. This was AFTER I told her I was not buying the Brio3 but I wanted to wait until Costco had the Marvel m90 version with the dual android phone feature. My projection would be about 45 days but she felt less. We dont know the model number and which feature (or 2) would not be on the Costco model but I think it will be VERY close to the Marvel m90 at a savings of around $5000. Yes I know I could buy something (Brio3) and take it back when the new model comes out but I dont think that is an ethical way to do business. Understand I was in business for more than 35 years so I see the view from both sides of the counter
Any suggestion about HA that work well with my desired features would be welcome