Costco Fitters - Not all the same!

About a month ago I asked to have my fitting formula in my KS8 aids changed from SmartFit (similar to NAL-NL2), to DSL v5. I was looking for less compression where distant and quieter sounds seemed to be amplified too much. It has turned our really well. This however requires a new First Fit and REM. This was all done as it should, but I got left with a bit too much gain in my left problematic ear and was getting more feedback than I should. So last week when shopping at Costco, I stopped by the desk to ask for an appointment to cut the gain back a little in the 3 kHz range to stop the feedback. As it turned out, they had an immediate opening, but not with the fitter I have seen many times since I got the KS8’s. I hesitated, but thought this is just a minor 15 minute task, and why wait for an appointment with my fitter. Well what a mistake!

This fitter did not take any time to review my history, and would not simply listen to what I wanted – a gain tweak down at 3 kHz. The fitter inspected my aids and immediately declared that I had a moisture problem, and the reason for my problem was that the inside of my aids were all corroded, and they needed to be sent back to the manufacturer. I said that when I open the battery door there is always been some evidence of moisture, and they had been like that since day one. The fitter insisted, so I asked if they would provide some loaner aids. The answer was “no”.

Next the fitter looked in my ears and put images up on the computer screen of the inside of my ear canal. The declaration was then made that I had a major wax problem and that was the cause of my feedback. There was a bunch more stuff that went on, but in the end the fitter essentially refused to make an adjustment until the hearing aids were sent back, and I got my ears cleaned by a doctor. At that point I said, OK, I will consider it, and left.

The next day I called and made an appointment with my regular fitter, who is the manager of the hearing centre. I told the story, and was told my ears were fine, and the aids were fine, and my adjustment in gain was made, all in about 15 minutes. My aids are now as good as they ever have been.

I tell this story, as a bit of a warning. I know I frequently recommend Costco, and up until this incident, have had excellent service. I have heard other posters here tell about getting a run around at Costco, and I now have had the same thing happen. I believe the message in all of this is that one needs to go to Costco, or any other hearing aid provider, with a good understanding of what service you should expect, and pull the plug if you don’t get it. I would not dismiss Costco as a choice, but I sure would ask for a different fitter or go to another Costco, if I felt I was not getting the best service.

4 Likes

Certainly agree. I have used Costco, had 2 different fitters, and they vere very different in terms of skill and experience, and personality.

I am a regular reader of many of your posts. I recognize your knowledge and the degree that you provide your expertise and willingness to research questions that so many here ask. You are a great resource to this group.

However, because of your skill and knowledge level, I think is reasonable to assume that the demands you make of Costco may, in many cases, be beyond their ability to provide. They are, after all, “Fast-Food hearing aids”

As a maybe unfair question - If you had gone to a private-practice provider, and had the service you have received from Costco over the time you have used them, can you estimate the cost you would have incurred?

I really don’t intend this as a criticism of you - again I very much appreiate your contributions here - I have learned a lot from you!

It is possible I experienced two very wide extremes in the fitting service that Costco provides. I think if a mistake was made, it was by me in accepting the appointment with someone that did not know me or my hearing situation. It probably is really hard for them to immediately come up to speed in what/who they are dealing with. My left ear has been really difficult to fit. Perhaps I was naive in thinking the fitter would just do as I asked, without going back to square one.

It was a weird experience. It was kind of like having a minor car problem, going into having it fixed, and then being told; “Sorry but your car is too wet and dirty for me to work on it, and by the way we need to send the engine back to the factory for a complete overhaul”.

I know one thing for sure. If I had initially gone to this fitter for hearing aids, I would not have bought them there. I would have gone to another Costco or fitter. Too many alarm bells were going off. I think others should do the same. Don’t accept sub par service. Don’t be bullied into doing things that make no sense.

I’m sure I have “cost” Costco a lot, as I am probably up to about 10 appointments in total. I look at it this way. They are being paid a fixed salary, not on commission, and there really is no extra cost. There is a price to be paid on my part in waiting for an appointment, but I don’t mind. They (or more likely Rexton) ate the cost of my molds which I could not tolerate.

And I think there is a bit more to the story. This fitter was not on staff at this Costco, and was “on loan” to help out with coverage. It makes me wonder why another Costco would offer up someone to loan out, as they all seem to be quite busy? I have my suspicions why they were so “generous”!

Sierra, thanks for the caveat and for sharing your experience.

I’ve had good, average, and very good luck with Costco hearing aid fitters over the years. Last instance was that my Costco Bernafon quit working, they told me it was too old to fool with and I should buy a new aid. Omitting a long story about going to a private audiologist and buying an expensive Phonak that hasn’t lived up to the hype - but I sent the broken Bernafon to a repair person recommended by a poster on this site, who fixed it and returned it; but it needed to be re-programmed.

Went back to Costco and got an appointment with a new fitter there who was so unfamiliar with such an old aid that she had to phone someone to tell her how to connect to it. But once connected, she pulled up my old files, set it up, tweaked it a bit, and it sounded better than it ever had. Used to be on the edge of feedback all the time, squealing at the slightest provocation, but she changed something and totally fixed that. That aid is now my “backup” and it works great.

I would go back to her in a heartbeat and likely will do do when/if the Phonak BICROS quits. Costco does not do BICROS or specialty stuff but I can live with monaural again, if it means having a hearing aid fitter who listens and implements the requisite changes with solid expertise.

So - you are absolutely right, not all Cosco fitters are the same.

I have the same situation. My CostCo has 3 fitters. 1 I have never dealt with. 1 is completely useless. The Manager knows her stuff and is the only one I will deal with. She has even said, most experienced users don’t like working with that 2d one I mention.

Which left me wondering why the person has worked there 28 years, as the Manager has worked there 35 years.

Be glad your CostCo has someone you can work with.

1 Like

I agree. If my fitter moves, I sure hope it is to another Costco that is a reasonable distance away. I can walk to the one where she is at now. I am much more appreciative of her abilities and efforts now that I have had an “alternate” experience.

1 Like

I also have a similar situation. The best of the three fitters is the manager, although, his attitude is that everyone expects too much from their HAs.

I have no problem with that attitude, as I strongly suspect he is perfectly correct. However, that does not mean it is an excuse to not try as hard as they can to optimize what can be delivered.

2 Likes

I feel certain he is correct about what users expect from their HAs and he hears “I can’t hear in a noisy environment” many times a day. He just gives the impression that the HAs have been adjusted as much as possible and investigating to see if that is true would be a waste of time. I started wearing HAs in the mid 80’s (analog) so I have been to this rodeo many times. Seen some of the best and the worse fitters. As I have become older, I have two common problems that my HAs improve but still give me a lot of trouble: Word Recognition and having a conversation in a noisy environment (restaurant). My Hearing Aids are Resound Cala 8 and I purchased them from Costco in 1917. I am including below the audio results from Costco. If anyone thinks there are adjustments that may help with the problems, I would greatly appreciate about them. Thanks in advance for any help.
image

image

Forgot to mention: Aids are BTE with custom molds.

I’ve only had one set from Costco and the experience was exceptional. That said, I chose the store that had an actual audiologist on staff, not a “hearing expert” or some other language that made it clear this individual was not a trained audiologist.

I am just another hearing aid sufferer, and can’t give you any expert advice. I do have some software to run simulations, but not on the ReSound aids. Here is what I see for a simulation with a P receiver, although it seems marginal for power and you may benefit from an HP model. Unfortunately with a BTE type aid, the whole aid rather than just the receiver needs to be changed to increase power. What power do you currently have? In any case this is with a P power, NAL-NL2 formula, and a 1 mm vent in the right ear, and 1.6 mm in the left.

Here is an alternative using DSL v5 for a fitting formula. As you can see NL2 has a lot of compression where soft sounds (top curve) are amplified more than the normal sounds (middle curve), and loud sounds (bottom curve), are amplified the least. DSL however has essentially no compression on soft sounds, and lower compression on loud sounds. It also provides more amplification of the lower frequencies. Hard to predict how it will sound to you. Best way is to just ask to try it. Costco should do it at no cost. Your current setting are saved in their computer, so if it doesn’t work, then you can always go back. DSL is more likely to sound closer to an analogue type aid. They typically have no compression at all.

If DSL turns out to be better but your aid is short of power, then you could consider a new BTE aid that has more power.

Hope that helps some,

I forgot to mention that my aids are RIC. Also, I have the newest High Power receiver for the HA. I don’t know the power but it was installed in December '19. Thank you so much for the information and suggestions. I will take advantage of it and report back the results after I have seen the Costco fitter. Best regards.

Reading through this thread gets me to thinking about self programming your own aids. The OP is very smart about hearing loss and programming hearing aids. Always helping others and telling them what to do. Self programming should be a piece of cake, right.

Talking about Costco fitters, my wife and I both have had excellent experience with them. Couldn’t ask for better. The OP is correct about them not always being perfect, we all have bad days. I feel for the fitter that has a client who tells them how to do their job not that any of us do that.

A bunch of members here are professionals and hard working people. Spent a lifetime of working hard and doing a good job. During my years of work I know it was always a challenge dealing with the know it alls.

This is one of several threads that members brow beat Costco fitters. Seems to pull the personality out of a number of us, including me.

I have no intention of brow beating anyone. I am just saying that people need to go to their hearing aid appointments with their eyes wide open. You may or may not get good service. We don’t have to be experts and know how to tell fitters to do their job, but we need to know enough to determine if we are being well served or not.

2 Likes

Excellent points. I notice many people post that all COSTCO fitters are not the same. True. But that’s true at any HA center that has more than one fitter, as is often the case.

Have you ever considered that you might have a “Hidden Hearing Loss”? This is a fairly recent research discovery. The problem is “People can hear, but when it is noisy they can’t understand.” Audiograms do NOT pick up on “Hidden Hearing Loss” and it involves damaged synapses, not damaged hair cells. There is an article in Popular Science Magazine (Winter 2019) that discusses the discovery/research, pp 42 to p 49. Also the book, Volume Control, just published, mentions this as well. Just a thought to consider…

Isn’t that why they do speech in noise tests as well as an audiogram?

this is different from the QUICKsin test.

I’m headed to Costco in early March for my FIRST HAs. My loss is normal aging, not anything too unusual as I understand. My audiologist suggested Costco because they’re far less expensive than the Oticons she recommended for me when we thought my insurance would cover part of the cost. I’ve found a Philips at Costco that is very similar to the Oticon at less than half the price.

After reading this chain I’m concerned that I have NO IDEA what to ask or tell the fitter I see. I’ll be totally at their mercy and will not have a clue whether or not they are competent. Any basic questions anyone can think of to help me through this process?

Thanks.
Kat