Costco VS. Audiologist office


I have been reading many posts and have learned quite a bit. This looks like a very helpful community and I would like to join in!

If I may pose a question: I am 38 years old, male and have been losing my hearing for ten years. It is getting to a point where I must do something. I am looking at Costco and their Bernafon Icos BTE open fit units at $1,599.00 ea. This seems like allot to me, but apparently it is cheap after reading other’s posts!

I question whether I should also have my hearing tested by another Audiologist? I had a test done at Costco; he set me up with a set of demo units which I used for only ten minutes as this was all the time left in our appointment. I found that I heard EVERYTHING. In my opinion, they were cranked up too much!!! I walked by a crying toddler and thought I was going to lose it… I could hear my wife talking to me 10’ behind me. I enjoyed hearing everything, but it seemed like too much.

Is this just a newbie’s reaction to hearing well for the first time or could it be that the audiogram was incorrect? I know that no one can say for certain, but I wonder if I should also go to another Audiologist just to see.

Is it a common practice to set someone up with a set of demo units for a weekend, or is this just not done? I wanted to ask, but I did not feel comfortable.

Thanks for reading my long post!


Hi notbob1

I believe the ICOS is a top of the line model, so, outside of the internet, I don’t think you’ll find a better price.

I suspect what you’re experiencing is a reaction to not having heard all of the high frequencies for years. Your brain’s perception is that these new sounds are way to loud and sharp. Typically, whoever fits the instrument will not put in all of the needed gain, especially the high frequencies, right away. Your brain needs time to adjust to the new sound environment, so your fitter can increase the amount of gain gradually, over a few weeks, to make it easier to adapt. Also, some people need to break in slowly, so you could try wearing the new aids for only a couple of hours initially, then increase the time you wear them each day. Some people can take weeks to fully adjust, others do so much more quickly.

Usually, when you purchase hearing aids, you’ll get a period where you can return them for a full refund. The period is usually 1-2 months. If they don’t work out, try a different model or brand, or just return them for a refund.

I’ve heard good things about Costco, both for price and service. Let us know how it goes.


i would say the overall level in the uS is pretty high, most audis and HIS should be competent enought to take a good set of exam… Ideally you like to
get either the Quick sin or the Hint to see how is your hearing in Noisy enviroments. What I would suggest you should be adamant is about REm test more than a measure of functional gain or aided speech…

I got my aides at Costco about 2.5 months ago. I also went to an audi to get my ears tested, so I would have a second opinion. I have been very happy with Costco’s price and service. I felt the same way about sounds I hadn’t heard for a long time. They will turn it down when you start out and you will adapt much quicker than you expect. I am so glad I can finally hear so much better. Good luck.

my hubby just got his Bernafon ICOS and Extreme at Costco. Excellent price and great service. I understand that independent audis have to mark up their prices to cover their overhead, etc. But from a consumer standpoint with no insurance, you can’t beat Costco’s price or service. My hubby had similar reaction when he first tried on his HAs. He heard EVERYTHING. The fan whirring, babies crying, etc. while we walked around Costco. That’s to be expected as Dag mentioned. Hubby’s only had his for a week now, so I don’t have too much advice to give at this point. But just want to say that from a cost/service standpoint, we’re very happy so far with Costco and the Bernafon ICOS.

Thank you for all of the responses!!! :slight_smile:

I think that I will use Costco. I am a big fan of Costco and the very first Costco (store #1) is my regular haunt. The trick is coming up with the money to pay for them.

I would love to hear how things go for everyone. I will keep viewing, though I am not much of a poster…

This seems to be a very good forum!


It sounds like the test hearing aids were turned up too loud. The idea should be to help you hear better, not give you super ears!

I am also not convinced that a brand new fitting should be tested out in a noisy supermarket. This is like learning to drive a car in the middle of New York.

It’s not going to hurt to get a couple of other tests. Generally tests are free. You’ll have the chance to figure out if you are impressed with the first hearing professional you saw, or if you meet one you trust better to help you.

I recently lost my hearing thanks to the antibiotic gentimicin. Im 40 years old and have had normal hearing my whole life and quite suddenly just over 2 months ago and weeks after i had taken the antibiotic i woke up completely deaf couldnt hear a sound. I was also feeling under the weather and short of breath so i went to ER (concerned more about hearing than anything). They admitted me for pneumonia again and did nothing about my hearing saying it was a side effect from antibiotics i had taken previously. I later went to my doctor who referred me to an ENT who did a CT scan and a hearing test. She told me there was no physical reason (both ears and everything around was healthy) but that i would most likely need a hearing aid for right ear and a cochleer implant for left and referred me to bunch of audiologists. Well now its neem over 2 months a little of the hearing in right ear came back(why she said hearing aid) but its only enough where I can hear mostly low tones and loud noises for example I can hear a Harley, even less hearing returned to left ear. I have Medicare and CareFirst (a division of Blue Cross that is an HMO for Medi-Cal), now I know Medicare wont cover the hearing aid. CareFirst in their handbook says thhey do with doctor referral if doctor deems medically necessary, which of course he did. Today I went to an audiologist and he told me cause my hearing is so bad I need a BTP or power behind the ear and very strongly recomended the Naida IX Ultra Power and said at very least Naida V Ultra Power both by Phonak. the main differences is the IX is 20 channels and the other is 16 channels, but they are $2800 each and $2300 each respectively. Now I have very limited income right now and I cant afford that. Im getting some help from family but they arent rich either. Now I looked at flyer from costco and theirs only range up to $1500 each max. Are their hearing aids really as good quality? I need to know because I can only get one for now at least and that is a huge price differnece. Can anyone help?

I have been dealing with Costco and doing a lot of research on this forum…a great place to come for help! I also am limited in funds and was only going to get one hearing aid this year (put $ in my flexible spending acct.) I had a limit of 1500…
I am still in the process of finding the right hearing aid for my loss and the Hearing specialist at Costco is great…I have been in there about 5 times in the past month and he is very patient and seems knowledgeable…he has explained how Costco is a huge company and is able to offer lower prices (on quality instruments I believe) and also the 90 day trial full refund if not pleased…this is very important for me as I have a very difficult loss to fit…so from the many comments on this forum and my own experience, I would say try costco…you have to be very comfortable with your audi/hearing specialist in order for things to go well, especially his/her ability to program and fit the HA properly…I believe many of the Costco brand instruments have the “guts” of popular brands eg. Siemens, Resound, Rexton, Bernafon…good luck!

Neilshady: The performance difference between 20 Channels and 16, for the vast majority of loss types, is zero. Most common loss types (the majority) need only 4 or 5 channels.

(Technically for lowest internally circuit generated distortion, the fewer channels the better. And process time is faster with fewer channels.)

And its rare for the fitters to even program each and everyone of those 20 channels separately. That would take lots of time.

IMO for most uncomplicated losses Costco is a good deal. Ed

Well, this is my 3rd h/a, and I did purchase this last one from Costco, although I did have a private audiologist also do a hearing test. I mentioned this to the Costco person and he asked if I had brought the test in, I had not, but did ask him if he was using that test to fit me, and he said he didn’t think he was better or worse than the other and yes he would have used that one! I did continue with a test, and ordered the Bernafon Verite with the soundgate remote. When he was going over the channels he did tell me they were there but, he said ‘most’ people don’t like them and he wants me to try the auto mode for 2 weeks. I prefer having the ability to select the channel but, I think he was in a hurry to leave. so I didn’t get programmed…not happy about that. what’s your take on this, is this normal. I know it hasn’t been my experience 2x before this. I almost want to return them and go to another Costco…
But, I do have a problem with the Soundgate remote. I was able to pair it with the bluetooth on my cell, but I thought I could pair it with my Imac so I could listen to it without headphones is that possible? thanks

Make sure you upgrage to the executive membership at costco before you purchase the new aids and you will earn a 2% rebate check at the end of your membership year for all your purchase including the purchase of your aids. I would also apply for the true earnings american express and use the amex card to pay for your aids and that will get you an additional 1%. I hope this helps.

If you have a low frequency hearing loss, I caution anyone to rely on Costco’s hearing tests. I went there to try the bernafon’s since they have been discussed as a possible good option for people with low frequency hearing loss. The testing area is not a good, soundproof booth like you would find in an audioligists office. They do not use the over the ear headphones which allows leakage from outside sounds in the testing room. I had my recent test done in and audilogists office with me and the costco test didn’t come close to what has been a very consistent 25 year span of hearing tests. The Costco warehouses are very noisy if you have normal high frequency ability. This probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to people that have high frequency loss. I like Costco’s offerings and price but be wary of the testing.

The Costco Hearing Aid centers in this area have soundproof booths, and the couple of hearing tests I had done had results that were almost identical to the tests from the audiologist’s office.

I too, have been tested at several different local area Costco’s over the last few months and the tests were very siniliar to each other and close to a local top notch audiologist’s resullts. Both Costco hearing testing rooms had good sound isolation from outside noise.

Over the years I have been tested many times by many different professionals and the tests were very similiar showing a gradual decline…but on any given day it is natural to have + or - 5db or somewhat more variation. Ed

I take it they test with inserts?

These are largely regarded to be more accurate than the over the ear headphones as they disregard the volume of the external auditory meatus. They are also more effective in reducing background noise - this is why the little yellow foam plugs are used for noise reduction in industry.

If the test environment was poor, why not writte to them to suggest an improvement.

Something you need to understand being a newbie the first time you put in a hearing aid the whole world will seem LOUD!!! The worst your hearing the louder it will take to adjust to it. But your brain will adjust. That’s why trying a hearing aid out or ten minutes is all but useless. You will turn it on and go wow I can hear so much better, this is amazing. Or you will go YIPES!! The whole world is screaming at me. I can’t wear these. There is a break in period and you should take it slowly. Wear them in a quiet environment so you can get used to just wearing them. Then gradually wear them in a more and more noisy environment. When you first get them you don’t have to even wear them constantly. The brain needs time to adjust to all the new sounds. The brain will also adjust to all the loud sounds. After a couple of weeks you will go back for further fine tuning of the aids. Don’t be surprised that when you go back the loud sounds now don’t sound loud enough. This is fairly normal, thus the reason for the adjustments to the aids. Unfortunately, being a first time wearer this should have all been explain to you. Some are told about this adjustment period some are not. Like I said a 10 minute trial is pretty much worthless except to convince you that the aids WORK!!

sometimes with a new hearing aid user I’d only set up one program to make sure they don’t get overwhelmed with gadgetry… but since this is your 3rd set I would definitely like to show you all the possibilities available with the new technology - especially if that’s what you were after!

My experience buying and servicing Bernafon Swiss Ear HAs from Costco for the past four or five years has been excellent. At one point I noticed that Costco had its own similar-looking Kirkland brand of HAs for cheaper, but the Audiologist told me that I wouldn’t be happy with them since I had become used to the Bernafons. Like moving from a Mercedes to a Chevy, is how he put it. So, although I plan to buy my next aids from Costco, I will no doubt be buying Bernafons.