Incompetent professionals

Is it a common occurrence that the professional who is supposed to fine tune your hearing aids doesn’t know how? And doesn’t understand what you mean when you try to describe a problem? This has happened to me at two different Costco stores (Kirkland) and at an expensive Audibel shop.

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Just like finding a barber, mechanic, etc.


I guess I have been lucky, but I have always worked with Doctors of Audiology and not hearing instrument specialist. And I have always gotten good fittings, some were great fittings. The key has been keeping good notes of what is working and what isn’t working.


I have met four audiologists for the 17 years of wearing hearing aids. Besides the first one I met in Seoul, Korea, 17 years ago, I had no luck to meet a good audiologist in the United States. The last two have degree of Audiology Doctor. It is why I started self-fitting, and joined this forum.


I see a hearing technician at Costco and I think she does a very good job. Costco does have their “formula” for fitting aids though, and I suspect she is obligated to follow the Costco rules. For the most part this is a good thing. I recall my initial appointment for testing took nearly 1.5 hours, and my followup appointmnet for the first fitting took another 1.5 hours. I find her very thorough.

I have the software that they use installed in my home computer, so I pretty much know how the tool works for fitting. I have had to remind her to do certain steps from time to time. I suspect she considers me to be a challenging client. I am always pushing her to try this and try that. However, she is very accommodating and willing to give pretty much anything a try. There is none of this, “don’t tell me how to do my job” stuff.


12 people may describe the same problem 12 different ways, and sometimes it’s a communication issue to try to figure out exactly what the thing they are talking about is in terms of hearing aid function.

They should know how to use the software though.


I am a professional, and good at what I do. But if I am going to do a good job for you, a whole lot depends on you. In all of health care you must take care of yourself.


Like Kizzy said, there is good and bad in all professional work in all walks of life. Including our hearing aids.

I have a feeling there are a bunch of very handy, hard working people on this forum. I am one of them. Can just about do anything well if I want to. To hire and pay top dollar for a professional and get less than professional results is heart breaking. We work too hard for our money to be rolled under the bus.

I truly enjoy reading about the members on this forum who have great results with a professional concerning hearing aids. We are very fortunate to have pros on this site to help us along on our hearing experience.


Many of the people who work in Costco hearing centers are employees who used to work in other departments.

Yes, like Kizzy said. Problem is the cost of searching for a good one.

I pay 20 dollars including tip for a hair cut. I changed the barber 5 or 6 times before I met current barber. I spent 120 dollars and 5 months.

I paid 4,500 dollars for the first aids, 6,000 dollars for the second pair, and I am now wearing hearing aids that I bought for 900 dollars from eBay. I do my own fitting. I know I am not perfect, but I now enjoy the best sound in 10+ years. I recently started listening to classic musical first since high school days, which was 51 years ago.

I believe there are good ones out there. But I don’t want spend another 6,000 dollars and 3 to 5 years for it. I wear BTE pairs with custom mold. It will be 3,000 dollars + accessories if I go to COSCO. I have no idea how I can find a COSTCO store with a better hearing aid provider.

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I have only had a couple personal experiences at Costco. One of the first licensed hearing aid dispensers had worked for several of the hearing manufactures. He had more practical experience than anyone else I have ever dealt with. Since his experience included years of analog devices, he fully appreciated the incredible power and versatility available with programmable hearing aids. His communication skills were likewise, off the chart.

I watched other older but less experienced fitters at Costco who just did not fully understand the fitting software. I have also had Costco employees who were in training that were very astute and aware of the challenges involved in properly fitting the aids. Overall, I am satisfied at the overall experience from Costco. I am fortunate because there are 3 Costcos within a 15 mile radius of my home. When I did not like the outcome, we could try one of the other warehouses.

My first experience with a degreed Audiologist was good and bad. During the entire hearing test there was a 60hz hum. Since I suffer tinnitus, this made the hearing test incredibly tense. I asked about the problem, but there was no effort to resolve it. Since the hearing aids I received were my first professionally fit Oticon OPN 3s, complete with TV streamer for a $600 insurance copay, I was happy, but always wondered how much better the result would have been if the test had been a bit more precise. On the followup visit I asked if the music program could have some base boost. The Doctor had no idea how to do it with the Genie software, so she just manually added the boost. I am confident the Genie boost would have been a smoother response.

I have since returned to the audiologist and had a defective hearing aid exchanged. Unfortunately I had to return because the aids were not properly paired. In the end, it turned out the firmware in the two aids differed.

For me the return trip to have the aids properly paired was a minor oversight. For some people this could be a terrible inconvenience.

My point is, it all depends who happens to be working when you arrive. Some are great. Others, not so great. I suggest trying to stick with chains or situations where you can change fitters. Sometimes we just do not connect with service providers.

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It is difficult to find a good understanding Audiologist. The more severe your hearing is the harder it is to find a good one. I have found the grad students doing first year out, post uni exams don’t have the experience to cope with profound loss. But they have to learn on the job, which makes it hard.


When you find that Audi that listens and can work his/her magic for your hearing you better hold on to that Audi. And always tell that Audi thank you so much for what he is doing for you.

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Getting a hearing aid dispensing license or an AuD. is a license to learn. The science in hearing technology is fantastic, the MAGIC comes in when the “professional” starts to work with you. Having a degree does not mean they really know what they are doing. Unfortunately, I have seen too many intelligent and highly “qualified” professionals that I would not let a family go to. It becomes “buyer beware” and unfortunately most buyers do not know the questions to ask.


My only observation here is that 50% of professionals finished in the bottom half of their class during training. Worse than that, you might not like, or your town might not attract one in the top 50%.

Also, sometimes the best talkers are techincally the worst fitters - the kind of methodical brain that sees through most problems isn’t always the most sympathetic in terms of patient care.

I’d add to this and openly admit that I bumped a patient off (to another practitioner) whose expectation massively shifted during the life of the aid. Px has a PTA of 50dB Bilateral (small conductive component), wants canal 312 aids. History of middle ear reconstruction. Fast-forward three years: both aids are wound up to full beans: 75dB+ PTA and 40dB conductive element - Feedback issues etc.

Client’s daughter is all over me like a rash, saying I’d conned them arguing that the original aids should be replaced at my expense with more powerful ITE-my argument was that the client was at the limit of ITE performance and that was just kicking the can down the road… I dug my heels in and she threatened me with the regulator. I offered an ex-gratia payment to close the matter of approximately a quarter of the sale price. All sorts of threats about my reputation - because she knew people etc. - She accepted and signed on the payment. I heard since that the ITE’s fitted ‘were much better’ than the ones I’d fitted - From the daughter who wanted to tell me in the street in front of as many people as possible - I’ve also heard that the fitting hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as stated and there are problems with Feedback/Re-makes: This isn’t a moan, but from a fitting perspective, the narrower the client’s view of the situation is, the more difficult it is to meet their needs - and hitting a shrinking moving target is not the easiest.


This is why I don’t think I could be a business owner. I don’t think people should get money for being dramatic and unreasonable.


I found even with my wife people with fairly normal hearing don’t understand that our hearing changes over time. And my wife got really upset with me when I made her go to a education class with me on hearing loss and hearing aids. But after being there with me an others she finally got it at least a little bit


FWIW - Neither do I, but they also know that they can inflict damage easily on a small business in a small town by suggestions over their reputation. As a rule of thumb if it can be sorted for less than £500/$600, it isn’t worth the bother of the fight. I also make sure they sign a cease & desist NDA so that they know they cannot continue to hold an opinion on us in public.

It’s a rarity; happened twice in 15 years, but it still smarts to have to pay out cash when you’re acted with honesty and integrity from the start.


Yeah, I get the necessity. But grrr, the principle.


Where was that anger from, do you think? Shame/defensiveness that her existing behaviour might be insufficient?