Hearing Tests and Consultations - How to Distinguish Between Sales Tactics and Truth

I’m searching for a new audiology clinic after learning so much on this forum. Upon reading reviews after the fact, it turns out that the hearing clinic I went to (provided by an audiologist), is biased towards certain types of hearing aids and overly priced, while the service is not good as touted. I initially dropped in for hearing aid batteries, then inquired about their services.

I live in Ontario, Canada, and am a senior citizen, and while at a family gathering, my siblings said I should be able to get a hearing test for free. This clinic charged me for it and the consultation. When I called to inquire, they said they did not cover the hearing test but would deduct it from the cost of the hearing aids.

From what I could gather, which aligns with my experience, most hearing aid clinics that offer “free” hearing aid tests and consultation, are chain stores such as Listen Up, who are partial to a specific brand of hearing aid.

When I called another privately run hearing clinic, I was informed that they did not cover the cost of consultation/hearing test, and they required to do their own advanced testing rather than use the one I already got.

Is there a legitimate basis for this or is it a money making tactic? I thought all hearing tests involved the same assessment variables? I’m wondering if I should fork out more money to insure a better service (I’ve been unhappy with the Phonak hearing aid and CROS I have from the beginning and am struggling with speech discrimination both in noisy and quiet environments), go back to the original clinic or continue searching.

Honestly it takes you being proactive and doing your own research. Come to understand everything possible about hearing loss. Understand that hearing aids are just that an aid, not a miracle that can give you normal hearing. Do your research and find an audiologist that does more listening than talking.


Yes, you really do have to go in with your eyes wide open. I find they try to sell you miracles, then you are so disappointed and feel taken when you experience the hearing aids in real time.

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Are there no healthcare system like the one in the UK/Germany/France…?
Or like the one in Quebec’ RAMQ?

I am so blessed, I am a veteran and my hearing loss is service related. My VA audiologist is the most wonderful listener i have ever seen. The VA only provides the top of the line hearing aids. As someone that has been wearing aids for almost 20 years I can say that hearing aids are only a part if the process, the audiologist and the patient relationship makes up the majority of the process. Yes my first set of aids, I bought on my own was a very bad experience. I bought them because the VA process was very slow and i was afraid I wouldn’t be able to continue working without being able to understand what was said. I am a retired IT professional. My livelihood was being a combination of electronics tech/engineer and software engineer and my strength was troubleshooting. It takes listening power.


There is just OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan), and that only covers very basic medical expenses like doctors visits. The only way to get covered for hearing tests through OHIP is if a physician requests it, not through self-referral or employment or other agency referral.


The hearing test at Costco is free, and you can take it home. They have a limited, though top of the line offering of hearing aids.


Good to Costco Hearing and $1,500 dollars you get what the Audi-scammer charge for $6,000 with minimal services.

The kep to program is not audiologist AA , but computer techie’s. Costco allows 6 months free return and 3 year repair and service including software updates

I spent the big Audi Dr Sniff$$$ for 20 years and just love my KS10’s from Costco​:+1::sunglasses:


The hearing test is a professional service and clinical time costs something. A few years back it used to be fairly common for quick tests or screenings to be offered free as a loss leader, but it’s swinging back the other way a bit again and more and more places are charging for their services. So it depends on the place now, but it’s not a “money making tactic” for a clinic to charge for their time any more than it is a “money making tactic” for any other healthcare professional to charge for their time. Even when it is being charged, I find it is still being discounted–consider what you would pay for an hour and a half at the dentist, the optometrist, the physiotherapist or, hell, the massage therapist.

It is common for clinics to not trust the precision of eachother’s assessments because there’s enough sloppy work out there that even if it is not the norm, trying to fit from a bad audiogram causes a lot of trouble. I will fit hearing aids off of an outside audiogram if I know the audiologist personally and trust their work. Additionally, if you are bringing in an audiogram from somewhere else, that’s really only part of what you are paying for–half or more than half of the time is spent in consultation with the professional in regards to your needs and this is also professional time that costs something. That said, you can call and say that you’d like to just pay for a consultation, you have a recent hearing test, and you understand that if you choose to stay with them you will have to re-so the assessment later. You might fluster reception as that is not the structure they are used to working with, but it should be doable.

Finally, you have a beast of a hearing loss. How long has that right ear gone unamplified? How long has it been poor? When you are hearing with only one ear, speech in noise will always be difficult. The configuration of the left ear is not straight-forward either. Do you know what your WRS score on that side was (and the presentation level)? When you are talking to your clinician, if they act like your hearing loss is straight forward that itself might be a red flag.

Where in Ontario are you?


This is my thought as well. Could be a cochlear implant candidate.

I have no problem with paying for legitimate services. However, I’ve been around the block and have been burnt enough times, and have seen it with my own mother, to know that all is not equal in the realm of the hearing aid industry, as well as they vision care industry. When I take their information at face value, I get chastised and ridiculed for “falling for it”. There is misinformation and incomplete information out there, and it’s hard for me to sort out what is what. That does not make me a free-loafer. I’ve paid dearly for many services while when I was in my own self-employment business, offered my services for almost free. So I don’t like the underlying insinuation in your post.

You contradict yourself - on the one hand you are saying these audiologist services require time and money, on the other hand you are saying that each hearing aid specialist wants to do their own hearing test because other results may be subpar. As it turns out, I did find one independent hearing clinic that will accept my recent hearing test as well as a free consultation, and have set an appointment for next week.

Yes, I know my hearing loss is significant, especially in my diseased ear; hence the distress. That’s why I chose the CROS of that ear because it’s non functional with missing parts and cholesteatoma. I certainly realize the limitations of hearing aids, and saw my mom go deaf essentially even with the use of them. That’s why I was searching for speech reading classes, without success. I’ll have to go online and pay the difference in exchange rate and sign up for classes offered in other countries.

I looked up that ear disease, middle ear growths.
Have you considered a cochlear implant?
Or getting an evaluation to just know if it’s possible for you?

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Toronto here.
20 years of hearing aid use. Most with workman’s compensation claim

If I was starting a fresh search I would read up on COSTCO S offerings. Price is a lot less than other stores. Warranty is better. If you aren’t near a COSTCO then this option likely won’t work

In every case we need to find someone capable of setting them up right.

Do you know someone who really likes their hearing care provider? I’d check out the person they use

Listen Up Canada was my nemesis. They broke my first hearing aid. The owner of Listen Up also is Ed Sleep Counyry. A character.

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The underlying insinuation that is it unreasonable to think negatively about a clinic for charging for their services? I didn’t actually mean that to be underlying and I’m happy to express it clearly: I think it’s unreasonable for anyone anyone on these forums to criticize a clinic simply for not providing their services for free. (Note: Not you specifically.) That said, there are absolutely predatory clinics out there and I understand people being wary. Your original post asked whether refusing to provide free consultations off of outside assessments was a racket, and I tried to answer you–no, that’s not a red flag. It’s just a different business model and doesn’t indicate anything necessarily. If anything, it might indicate that the business isn’t struggling to get patients through the door.

But your basic question of “how to detect the predatory (or incompetant) clinics and find someone good”–I’m not sure I know how to answer that. I think it’s sort of the same as how do you find a good dentist or doctor (not that we have freedom of choice in GPs in Ontario). Online research can be tricky because people work hard at social media and search engine optimization these days and everything gets a bit fake. (Note, too, that audiologists in Ontario are not allowed to advertize with patient testimonials, compared to HISs.) Word of mouth is good, especially if someone has used their services for a while and continues to give glowing recommendations. Interviewing them, but I know repeated assessments costs time and money which is why I suggested that you just ask for an office visit to start out if you want to chat with them.

The biggest indicators to me these days of predatory practices aren’t prices necessarily, but are perhaps hard pitches, vague answers, and limited after care. I had a patient that we sent to an ENT because a new red flag came up on their audiogram; they were cleared but promptly walked down the hall and told they needed new premium devices which were sold to them on the spot with just a first-fit and a very short trial period, and no follow-up appointment. Ick. But audiology is a helping medical field that is not terrible prestigious and no one in my class got into it because they wanted to make a lot of money. Maybe the red flag is just when a clinic seems less healthcare orriented and more slick and business orriented.

I picked the clinic I chose to work at because it was independent, didn’t use a commission model, had a wide scope of practice, was supportive of my continuing education, was involved in its community, and offered the oppotunity to provide some pro bono or low cost services for those who needed it. Worked for me.


But more importantly, how long has your CROS ear gone unaided? When did the loss start and did you ever wear a hearing aid? Often with a cholesteotoma the inner ear still works pretty well.

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I suppose when the wolves are guarding the gate there will always be potential for exploitation, it’s human nature. There’s lots of money involved with HAs, hence potential for dishonesty. That’s what I feared when I first got tested, the Audiology Clinics, especially those offering free tests, have solutions looking for a problem. I went to two clinics, a free one and not free one when first assessing my hearing situation, took a free online hearing test (gives a ballpark result) just to see if I wasn’t being fed an up-selling tactic. The paid test was somewhat more thorough I thought and at least got to keep my audiogram, which I couldn’t with the free one (rightfully so). Then I checked on the clinics staff credentials, customer reviews etc. and made my choice. I am lucky in a sense, hearing clinics abounds where I live, lots of choice and competition is a good thing. This being my first ever HA fitting I don’t know what to expect to a very large extent. Watched a bunch of YouTube videos to at least know what I don’t know and be better prepared and recognize if/when I’m not getting the level of service that is to be expected. It’s the best I could do, the rest is luck of the draw, time will tell.


Quite frankly that’s none of your business.

It’s never been recommended by my ENT, I am too old and have other health conditions that would put me at greater risk from surgery.

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Interesting you mention Listen Up. I checked them once and nearly went through the process of buying new hearing aids, then they presented a waiver form for the mold fitting that said they were not responsible for adverse reactions including sudden death to the chemical and other ingredients used in forming the mold. I ran the other way, I can tell you, lol.

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Unfortunately, I’m not near Costco, nor a member of them, and I can’t drive. I’m going to see another audiologist today, although I’m slightly wary because I definitively booked this appointment and the receptionist called me on Friday to see if I wanted to book one and had no recollection/record of the email I provided to confirm details. Not sure if that’s a bad sign or just a blip, lol.

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