Costco vs. Independent? Hard to stomach spending $7k again

Apologies for the novel…

My ReSound Verso RIE (circa 2013) devices took an unfortunate ride in our washing machine last spring. I’m a tech guy, so I knew enough to immediately get them into a dry box. Amazingly they worked, but my impression is that haven’t been quite the same since.

I have not been wearing them that much, partially because they seem flakey, so I’m considering replacing them (not sure if repair is an option). I had originally paid $7k (included phone clip and remote control). I purchased through an independent audiologist who I like, trust and value. My conundrum is that I just can’t justify that kind of money right now, but at the same time the technologist in me, just doesn’t want to buy older inferior technology.

I had gone down the ReSound route at the time because of my perceived perception that I really needed the Bluetooth option and that the devices were technology superior. My hearing loss is in the high end, and some of it profound…(a recent audiogram is attached).

I have ultimately determined that the bluetooth piece is really not that essential, the issue being that the clip is awkward to manage and wear (and to remember to keep charged), and based on my reading here, I am likely to be better served by wearing my hearing aids, and using a wireless bone induction headset (I have abandoned the phone clip and use a wired headset instead of the expensive bluetooth streaming, because the quality is better and it’s much more reliable).

I feel awkward about taking money out of my audiologists pocket, but can my needs to be effectively met by going with Costco devices?

Am I going to be satisfied with the higher end Costco devices? and are they roughly equivalent of what I could get from my audiologist if I bought ReSound, Starkey, Widex etc…

In terms of my needs, I do a lot of video conferencing and use VoIP via my computer. I’m going to assume that the bone conduction headset is really going to work well for that, with my HAs or not. My HAs serve me best when I’m out for dinner and in business meetings (conference rooms and small groups). My word recognition without my aids is surprisingly good, given my type of loss, but I know I should be wearing my HAs more regularly. I’m also a guitar player and like to see live music. Even though we’ve worked on programming for music, I really hate the “thinness” of the audio experience with my HAs on, and have mostly stopped wearing them when music is involved. I know that HAs are really optimized for speech (and they do remarkably well in crowded noisy rooms for that reason), but I do wish there was a way to warm them up.

Would appreciate any counsel on this…

P.S. I have had a somewhat similar conundrum with eye glasses; whereby I had seen a local family eye care center for years, but ended up switching to Lenscrafters because of the cost of lenses and frames (I wear progressives). I did have a complete fail buying online…


I’m pretty new to hearing aids. I certainly struggled to justify the costs of them until I found this site that mentioned Costco and regarded quite highly.
From reading A LOT…it seems that Costco sells many of the major brands but that they might be slightly de-featured. One example being that they don’t subscribe to tinnitus mitigation. I suspect there are other things. And then there’s the so-called Kirkland Signature line that gets updated every year or two. Currently now KS7. They are re-branded from major manufacturers and again slightly de-featured. But boy…$1700US compared to your previous $7K. Wow. It’s hard to walk away.
For me…being my first hearing aids I decided on the KS7’s just for the cost. Knowing they’re from a major manufacturer gave me that confidence that they should be fine. And they are. Although of course I have no previous experience to compare to.

Music…well…forget about it. You’ll have to get by with what you can get away with. That was my initial focus and then I became far more interested in speech. It’s what we’re here for.

That’s my novel…:slight_smile:

You mention your consideration for your audiologist’s wallet. Do you think that is a reciprocal arrangement?

With BT being important:
Octicon OPN: MFi but no BT device limiting you.
Phonak: figured out how to stream calls to a single ear on any device
Signia(Siemens): has a necklace device that will stream to any BT but isn’t MFi
Resound: excellent MFi and a matchbox size device to stream to BT. (my choice)

Aids at Costco are current or recent premium devices without tinnitus feature. The Resound aid is their latest product but also has remote programming disabled. $2800/pair and $200 for BT accessory for Android etc. The Signia is their current private label and is $1700.

KenP: Maybe there was a misunderstanding somewhere but kendor said something about BT not being “essential”.

What do you mean by “remote programming disabled”?

kendor: sorry…further to the music thing…the problem with HA’s is that they’re tiny speakers and so bass will be lost. With your loss though you appear to have bass up in the normal area. If you were to use open domes then the bass can get through.
But I’m no professional. :slight_smile:

He would be dependent on the bone conduction headset. I not sure about that but did misread the BT choice.

The new Resound Forte at Costco will not support the remote (cloud) programming.

Before buying new HA’s perhaps sending them to might save you a lot of money. Tom the owner sent my almost 5 year old Oticon HA to Oticon and for $350 I received a brand new HA in return. If you’re set on new HA’s I would go the Costco route because I can’t see how you will get $4,000 or$5,000 more benefit from going with an audiologist.

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seb: Excellent suggestion. Nice of Oticon. I wonder if Resound would do something similar.

Thanks KenP. I didn’t know there was such a thing.

I know Phonak also will do this and I’m sure Resound also has a similar program. Good luck.

Just my two cents: I am in the process of buying my first pair of hearing aids. Having read some reviews/testimonials online I assumed that buying locally would be much more expensive than buying online or from Costco. My doctor practices at a local university hospital and referred me to their audiology department. I thought I would consult with them about the most appropriate hearing aid for me and what it would cost. To my surprise the cost is very competitive. I will soon be fitted with a pair of ReSound Linx 3D 5s at a cost of $2750. I will be paying $2250 after my $500 insurance reimbursement. $2750 seems very competitive with prices I have observed online. And I like the advantage of working face-to-face with a local qualified audiologist and receiving fully functioning aids (I’m looking at you Costco). If you live near a university hospital it might be worth it to consult with them.

The Resound Forte is de-featured from the Resound Linx 3d 9, but so too is the Linx 3D 5 in comparison to the Linx 3D 9. In order to see the entire picture, how much would the Linx 3D 9’s cost at the university?

We don’t see your audiogram. That might make a difference.

With the insurance, you’ll be paying close to $1000 less than standard clinic prices.

Aids come with 3 levels: base - medium - high

Your level 5 aid is basic. A clinic would have charged around $3200. The university saved you about $500. It is a good aid for a person with a standard aging/waterfall loss in the mild to moderate range. If that is your loss, it should serve you well. Higher level aids add more directionality and noise suppression. Those with the mild-moderate loss usually do well with basic aids.

Costco’s aids are just below the high level. Really no actual difference from the high. If you find you have trouble in groups or in a noisy restaurant, you may wish to consider that while the trial period is in effect.

I just checked Costco to make sure I had the facts. They don’t sell yoru aid but they do sell the better one which isn’t their best.
ReSound Forte 6 Starting at $899.99*† Each

So, $1800 for a better model.

You could also ask your audiologist if he/she would be willing to unbundle professional services from the device and bill for them separately as they occur. This would result in a lower upfront cost to you since you’re not pre-paying for long-term care or follow-up service that you may not need.

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I am retired and wasn’t convinced I would need the more expensive features of the 9 & 7 so I decided to see if the 5 would suffice. As I recall university prices for the 7 & 9 ramped up by $300-$400. Correct me if I’m wrong but I have been lead to believe Costco doesn’t implement the tinnitus feature which interests me. And programming is restricted to Costco.

Great dialog. Thanks for all the input. The repair is a legit option to consider.

Question, assuming I went with highest grade Costco option (I don’t need tinnitus features), would the 2017 technology be noticeably better than my 2012/2013 ReSound Verso VO961-DRW (Verso 9 61s).

@joel_n If the cost only increases by $3-400, the medium level aid would be worth the difference. Medium level gets very close to premium with most aids.

I found the aids themselves reduced the tinnitus and have all but eliminated it.

Programming etc. is always restricted to the place you bought them. With Costco that is across the U.S., Canada, and some foreign countries.

@kendor I think you will find it so. The last few years have bought nice new features centering mostly on directionality and noise reduction. Let us know if that is born out.

KenP: re programming…well…unless you get into self-programming :slight_smile:

re: tinnitus…there seems to be anecdotal reports of success countering tinnitus but they haven’t nailed it down scientifically yet as far as I recall. I experience tinnitus 24/7/365 and would like to be sure that options are known to work rather than sometimes.

By restricted I think maybe you are referencing Costco’s locked-version of ReSound-Aventa fitting software for Kirkland Signature5 and Kirkland Signature6.

After the KS5 and KS6 Costco switched manufacturers and has stopped using locked versions of the fitting software. The KS7 uses the normal Connexx fitting software.

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@z10user2 As far as I know, the only locked aids for programming are older models – KS5 & KS6. Everything currently available has been reported to work with the vendor’s software.

I think the locking (Resound) was there attempt to differentiate KS aids in the minds of their clinic customers. I think they got over that.

Thanks. I will certainly consider moving up to the medium level aid. Hoping they will help with my tinnitus as well.