Costco Clovis, CA. not so great for fitting

I believe this forum should allow us to tell our experiences with the profession, and my experiences with Costco here in Clovis, CA. have been pretty poor. My first visit to the Clovis Costco was 6 years ago. At that time the dispenser(now gone) merely checked a few points on the audiogram taken within the last year-it was not a good audiogram. She sold me BTEs that were simply underpowered for my loss. But I have to allow that at the time my loss was in a flux-changing from moderate to severe within the year. So I figured this was just the breaks. Still, I had to abandon those BTEs shortly after buying them. I thought never again Costco, but hope springs eternally with the disabled. So recently I went back to the Clovis, CA Costco and was retested because I wanted to try the Kirkland Signiture 5 aids (KS-5s) highly recommended by others on this forum. Let me name names: my Costco Store is in Clovis CA., and the dispenser’s name is Maria Goodwin. She did a very thorough job testing me and getting an up-to-date audiogram, which has shown no appreciable change over the last year. I felt a sense of relief about this and thought maybe I was just unlucky with the prior dispenser at this store. . But Maria said that the Kirkland Signature 5’s (KS-5s) would not be appropriate for my loss. Not enough power. I did not argue with her on this-she has the expertise…that is what I thought. She recommended I upgrade to GN-Resound Forza ITE with detached microphones, costing about 1000$ more than the KS-5s. I agreed to this, and I was fitted with the Forza DM ( Forza detached microphone design, which is not one I have seen before, and my hopes increased because of this) . The result: Catastrophe. After fitting on the first trial I found that I was not getting much comprehension with the Forza DM aids- Not crisp. Comfortable, but not up to snuff for good word recognition-everything mushy or blaring. Another problem in this package was that the GN Resound aids had a telecoil that was automatic (responding to a magnet taped onto the phone) and not manually controllable. I use inductive loops in my home, and want manual control on the telecoils, not this kind of automatic telecoil. I complained and Maria was obviously disgruntled by this. I told her I would not buy without programmable telecoils in each hearing aid. So she took them back and sent them back to the factory. Two weeks later I came in for the final fitting with the returned aids. This is the result: A shock. What she ordered was not the Forza ITEs with detached microphones. What came back were big ITE hearing aids, comparable in size and just as obtrusive as my current 4-year old aids. She did not inform me of this change or consult with me about it. This was not what I ordered and I was obviously upset. This was no improvement over the current ITEs I have been wearing for 4 years. Also I need vents to prevent infection, and what came back were ITEs with tiny vent holes that look just inadequate for preventing infection. I think they will not allow good air exchange. So I told her thanks but no thanks.My summary: I was short-changed once again by Costco. Maybe there are dispensers at Costco that will take care to fit you properly and will listen to you. But not this dispenser or this Costco-For her and probably for many other Costco fitters, I think it is a matter of time versus profit. So my advice is this: If you are a tough case (and I admit that I am such a case) beware of Costco. That is my opinion now. I am left deaf and disabled by this industry in general and certainly by Costco, and have been shortchanged numerous times. Costco was a ray of hope, but my hope is gone about the Clovis CA. Costco and with Maria. I send this report out in hopes that we can get a forum that names the good fitters from the bad so that we can decide where to buy and what to do:eek:.

There’s another recent thread about dealing with severe and profound losses. A couple of people suggested Costco products, possibly without understanding the issues that you have described.

You’re a good case study of why their range isn’t a suitable fix for everybody. Unfortunately their sales strategy is designed to ‘cherry pick’ off the easier to fit and lower overhead customers at the expense of people in your bracket. There are some cracking power RIC/ BTE aids out there which will work well for you.

As for venting though, you’re going to struggle to get large vents with that sort of loss and not have masses of feedback.

Just as as a point of reference too, anyone with your loss being fitted without user accessible controls ON the aid is likely to get into trouble from time to time with loops and the variation in your loss etc as you pointed out. The audiologist/dispenser really ought to have considered this in making the decision on your fitting.

I truly do not wish to turn this into a ‘bitch session’ about Costco, but I have had similar, “it’s volume retail” experience with Costco. Approaching the end of the 90 day trial and have had a difficult time with the earmolds and now domes. This problem has dominated the trial period. Still not 100% satisfied, but I have crossed the 50% point. So, I will prolly keep the KS5s, as they are two thirds less than the phonak audeo q I have been trialing along side the KS5s over the past couple of weeks. To the point, my experience is that the dispensers are young and inexperienced - in so many ways - though mostly sincere and diligent in their efforts. I have experienced two of the ‘unilateral, why bother consulting the customer’ experiences during the trial. The Costco dispenser just make decisions without talking to the customer, which is bad retail etiquette, if not more so on something as important as hearing aids. As you can see by my audiogram, I too am in the severe category, so I tend to agree about Costco excelling in the easy to fit category. Not so much in the sever to profound range.

Oh, the two main things my Costco has struggled with or just ordered without talking to me, are custom ear mold material (ordered silicone without discussing). The earmolds were such a bad fit and the silicone irritated my ears so much they were returned. Tried again with acrylic, but still a bad fit in the earmold itself. Due to a good experience with the silicone domes from the phonak audi, I agreed to try domes from costco. I still have an irritation problem with the Costco domes, but it is better. The second area is the aid ‘color’ itself. Pepto Bismol pink was chosen for me without telling me of the options. I’m getting these changed to more of a tannish color, which don’t scream quite as much 'old man hearing aids. This is my third set of hearing aids and the least positive experience. But, like I said I can’t keep spending a significant amount of my retirement income on hearing. So, I’ll do my best to make Costco work.

Thank you for your comment. I would appreciate some details on your suggestions: Any particular power RIC/BTE aids you care to recommend for me to try? Also I cannot find the thread on Severe/Profound loss in this forum that you mention (I may have to search it out better) but a link would help me find it if you have one…And finally about feedback issues and venting: I thought that the technology of feedback control had reached the point where this was not such a big issue. No? I have recently visited the America Hears website in search of a reasonable Program-It-Yourself hearing aid and they offer open fit aids including the Freedom Bronze, which shows a range that should be suitable for me despite my severe to profound loss. Can this actually work? I cannot imagine getting an open fit aid that works without some feedback. Of course America Hears is willing to let me try this aid out, but they only have a 30 day trial period. If I buy this moderately priced open fit aid I will probably have to do the tweaking myself, which is OK, but it will take lots of time for me, a mere beginner at this. My experiences with online hearing aids has not been good: I have been scammed by Hear Source who advertise a power aid that was supposed to be self-programmable but that was never a product they actually sold-always a work in progress is what they said. I ended up with an underpowered cheap hearing aid with minitech and cables and had to return it all with the painful penalty of a 10% restocking fee.
Finally, and I hope this is not really a stupid question but I am a gullible hearing-impaired senior on limited income: Do you think a cheap aid like the Freedom Bronze can be comparable to a very expensive aid like Phonaks or such provided that careful fitting occurs? In other words, is the fitting more important than the quality of the product? I thank you for your expert opinion.

To Rocky Top: We are in the same boat. We need to find affordable hearing aids that work for those of us who are severe-to-profound. Limited income takes us to Costco, and I think maybe I will try a few other options like America Hears. See my reply to Um Bongo on that. Thanks for your comment and insight.

very simple… if you aren’t feeling the love at Costco shop with your feet.

I know several people with severe/profound losses that get their HA’s at Costco and are satisfied with the results. Costco is like any other hearing center, they have good fitters who know what they are doing and not so good fitters who can handle the easy cases but are lost with the more challenging ones. If you only have one store close by you are probably better of going somewhere else, however, if you have more than one in your area, the other fitter might be much better. I have 7 Costco’s within a half hour drive and one of the stores have a really good fitter, but it takes a long time to get in to see him and there are several other stores with pretty good fitters and a couple have fitters that aren’t to good. If you can get to another store try them, if not go somewhere else.

To Seb: I have one other store nearby that has a hearing aid center. I will think about it. Thanks for the suggestion.

To Doc JAKE: Right on! I think I will do a little more searching for something online. Thanks for responding.

I always recommend Costco as an option… and most seem to have a positive experience. But, the folks that come on here and whine about Costco being incompetent, selling outdated tech, etc… act as through they don’t have an option. Costco has a 90 trial period. Simply return the aids and walk away.

Sir. You take license with the “whine” comment. What I see is people sharing their experience. Your bedside manner needs work.

I know it’s a couple hour drive, but the audiologist at the Costco in Santa Clara, near the San Jose airport, is really good, but it takes a while to get into see him. You could come over and see him and see what he recommends or maybe even talk to him by phone before making the drive, he can access your file on the computer and tell you what he would recommend.

some folks don’t really like hearing the truth. did you tell this story to the Costco management? I’m sure they would have bent over backwards to do whatever it would have taken to made you happy. evidently they replaced the molds getting a perfect fit the first time with molds is a crap shoot I’m sure they offered to have them remade. they are also switching pink to brown aids. what more can they do for you? I see you didn’t mention the programming or performance of the aids so evidently the young guy did something right. I’ll bet he doesn’t make either mistake again. If he’s young and new (they all have to be licensed) I’ll bet his manager was reviewing whatever he was ordering. was he an HIS or an AuD? I take it you are not a veteran?

It is a long drive to Santa Clara and right now the highway fog makes it a potentially dangerous drive, particularly for a pretty deaf 74 year old. But others in the Bay Area would benefit by knowing the name of this Santa Clara Costco fitter, for sure. Indeed, it would be great if there was a forum where we could give the names and locations of the people who do a good job. And maybe give the names and locations of people who do not. That would be most useful. I might consider going up to the Bay Area once or twice, but my loss usually requires a lot of tweaking. As for phoning, well the phone I use is caption call, and whenever I phone Costco I just get a recording.
Here in Fresno I was going to a very good Audiologist, Alan Stark at Heiner Hearing. He is meticulous and spent a lot of time with me to get the best fit on the Superpower Starkey ITE I now use. He now is pretty popular, and has gotten pricey. A bit out of my budget (he wanted to sell me an AGX BTE waterproof aid with Wi-Fi and all the extras at 6500$, much beyond my budget). So I think his care is paying off for his practice. I may return there. But right up front, going to the office and telling the fitter “how it sounds” is not very efficient. It would be better if I could tweak the aids on my own since it is almost impossible to put how things sound into words. That is why I am considering America Hears.
I hope that Um Bongo posts a reply to the questions I directed to him-he seems to be very knowledgeable and has a lot of posts on these forums. Maria the fitter at the Costco Clovis store told me that the KS-5 would not be a choice for my loss. I wonder if this is technically true (is there a power option for the KS-5?), or if she was just bumping me into a higher price aid. I suspect it was just a bump. Her attitude was take it or leave it, and she just ignored my take on things. She did a good initial evaluation, so that is a positive. The only positive. As for going to management with a complaint, that would be the last thing I want to do. Better shop with my feet, as Doc Jake suggested. So I may end up back where I started. I have been fitted at Kaiser here too, but that was not too good and I rejected what they offered me years ago. They fit me with Naida UP aids which were supposed to be waterproof, but they conked out walking in the valley fogs. Yes, we have a lot of fog here in Fresno in the winter. Of course, private practitioners like Alan Stark are the basic option, but they will have to charge more than Costco.

It still might be worth a call to the fitter in Santa Clara, to find out if the KS-5’s can be fit to your loss, and then go to the other Costco to see what their fitter would recommend. I know several people with Naida HA’s and they love them and haven’t had any moisture problems as yet. Do you use a Dry n Store when the HA’s aren’t in your ears? If not, it would be a good investment and will save you repair cost from moisture related issues.

Since cost is a major factor, have you looked into some of the internet HA companies such as: Hearing Planet, Truhearing.com, etc. Their prices seem to be less than what you would pay your audiologist,but it all depends on who they get in your area to fit you and if they are any good.

I sent a family friend to the guy at the Santa Clara store to get hearing aids and he had nothing but good things to say about him and says he is hearing better than he has in years and this is from a guy who literally has a drawer full of hearing aids from various audiologist and HIS in the San Jose area that were more than happy to take his money, but were unable to program HA’s for him that would enable him to hear. So, I would give him a call and see if Costco has a product that will work with your loss.
Good luck!

I will call. The Naida aids that conked out in the fog were the first version, well over 5 years ago. I went from Naida to a waterproof nondigital, the Rion HB-54, which truly was waterproof. Alas it was barely powerful enough for my loss and I quickly got too deaf to use them. They are still available for about 1000$ each at Hearing Help Express online. Now I think the Naida aids use goretex covers to make them more waterproof. Not sure. Used Naidas show up on ebay now but I would be cautious about buying them since they may need periodic maintenance with new covers to stay waterproof. Don’t know about that for sure.

Been wearing for 13 years. This would be my third set. Just because I did not state something doesn’t mean I did not do it, or it did not happen. I am on a first name basis with the manager. The rest I will not respond to. I think I’ll find another forum. You are entirely unwelcoming and condescending.

I suspect you have a hard time finding the love wherever you go…

I bet Costco is hoping you move on… I don’t see where there is really anything to respond to except the veteran question which I hope is negative as the VA don’t need anymore difficult folks.

We are in agreement on one thing: hearing loss is not simple and a hearing aid is not going to be a simple fix. Your attitude is what I expect for those that go to 7 year Programs to become audiologists. Just trust us experts! Forgive me for that. I did the same in my field. You may be a highly motivated audiologist and if you have worked with the VA I commend you for your honest assistance to our vets. I have worked at the VA, so I know something about where you are coming from. A very imperfect system. All is imperfect. We live in an imperfect world. What I need now is reasoned and sound advice. not tirades–certainly not put-downs. I welcome your opinions and judgements, but you are just off the edge on your comments. Get real. We need useful advice…not tirades or dreadful negative opinions. Sure the market can work - and I can vote with my feet. But you were trained to be an audiologist funded by a kind of socialism, public money to pay for your training. And you owe me and others who suffer from hearing loss a little civility. Maybe a little careful, nonjudgemental advice. How is that for a role in this life? Helping others! Try it out for a while. It will bring you great satisfaction. But I understand, and do value your opinion.

I don’t think Doc Jake is putting anyone down or going off on a tirade, all he is being is painfully honest and truthful and saying if your experience at Costco isn’t working out, you can return the aids and walk away and go to someone else. As I said earlier, " if you have another Costco nearby, try them, they may be better." However, both you and RockyTop have pretty severe hearing losses and no matter who you go to, there is only so much they will be able to do.