KS9 Issues with Costco

Well, as some of you may recall, I went back and forth trying to decide whether to buy some hearing aids in India while I was there, but finally opted for getting some KS9’s on return to the USA.

I got back to Orlando a couple of weeks ago, went into Costco for my hearing test, and more or less got the same results that I received from a local audiologist prior to my departure - I’d load the latest results on here but don’t know how to do it, even after looking at the appropriate page.

I had to wait for over ten days to receive the KS9’s after paying for them the day of the hearing test, and went in a couple of days ago to take charge of my shiny new toys and get the rundown on how to use them. After reading a great many posts on here I was frankly a bit disappointed with the process, as I thought there’d be more to all of it, but the audiologist I was dealing with basically gave me the impression that the KS9’s are a fit and forget set of aids that only he or another audiologist would tinker with, other than my lowering or raising the volume at need. Other than the volume controls and how to change the batteries I was told little else other than the fact that he’d book me in for a follow up visit at the end of December, one that he thought I probably wouldn’t need as he claimed few people bothered coming in for the additional visit because by and large they’re happy with the initial settings.

So I went home feeling optimistic and happy, thinking of how soon I could approach my former employer to let them know I could resume my work with them, but I soon noticed some issues that I couldn’t be sure were either a problem with the aids or simply my lack of familiarity with them and the fact that perhaps I was expecting too much of them.

The first thing I noticed was the sound of my own voice - it sounded louder than it needed to be, and had a real ‘electronic’ feel to it at certain ranges that sounded odd, while the rest of the sound around me sounded more natural, even when I was listening to music in my car. The other thing that was really noticeable - and annoying - is that every tiny little abrasion of the right aid came across very distinctly, such as strands of hair brushing up against the plastic casing. I can’t chew food or walk around without hearing a constant rustling in my right ear, and there’s definitely a distinct difference in volume if I rub a finger up against the right HA, as against the left one. Later in the evening my daughter came into our bedroom to chat, sat on the bed a few feet from where I was lying with my wife, and started talking to us - the effect was like her having a megaphone - it was so painfully loud that I instinctively covered my ears, and after a second similar experience I kept my ears covered until she reduced her voice to virtually a whisper. I get that I would expect to hear certain vocal ranges, especially someone like my daughter, more clearly with hearing aids that are new to me, but it was way beyond that. I thought that perhaps I may have inadvertently bumped the volume up while practicing putting the aids on, but after pulling the batteries out to make them reset the issue remained. Finally, even though it’s barely audible, whenever I’m in fairly silent surroundings I can hear a faint static sound coming from the right HA.

So to cut a long story short, I went back to the Costco store in nearby Altamonte Springs to simply ask the audiologist if the issue was with me or the aids, but I didn’t get anywhere. I wasn’t expecting the guy to drop everything and everyone to take care of my issues, but I was hoping he could at least shed some light on the matter quickly and either hasten my next appointment or point out where the problem might lie. He wasn’t in attendance when I arrived, nor were any of the other staff there seemingly in a hurry to serve me, and after waiting interminably the audiologist finally arrived from the direction of the toilets and walked towards me. I quickly started outlining the problem but had barely uttered more than a few words when he peremptorily raised a hand to cut me off, said, “I’m not on the clock”, and sauntered past me to sit down at his desk inside his soundproof cubicle, where he proceeded to work on his computer and totally ignored me.

So other than feeling like telling Coscto where to shove their hearing aids after yesterday’s performance I’m still not sure what’s going on with these KS9’s. Is this normal behavior for hearing aids, or is there a problem with them - I just don’t know? And is it normal to get a pair of hearing aids and be told they’re set and forget from the first visit - from what I’ve read on here it seems many people go back for multiple visits to fine tune their hearing aids.

This is all just a little demoralizing, especially given how much I was hoping the aids would help me work-wise. I wasn’t expecting miracles, just enough to make life easier at work. I haven’t put the aids back on since yesterday morning, and they’re just sitting in their little drying box on my bedside table. I don’t really feel like going back to the Costco in question as the guy’s just plain rude - I’m kind of wishing I had bought those $1800 Phonak Marvels after all back in Delhi!

Turn down the volume?
Find another fitter. That’s incredible. My Costco fitter took all my several appointments until I couldn’t think of anything else to notice. Entirely helpful.
More recently, I went back after a couple years and had them make sure all the REM stuff was adjusted. Now the aids are seemingly very loud and borne out by watching tv with the spouse and turning the volume down several ticks on the aids. I haven’t bothered to go back. I’m fine turning them down.

Sounds like a problematic audiologist. If you’re a first-time HA user, you’ll have problems hearing all the stuff you’ve missed over the preceding years/decades. “Normal” high-frequency sounds will sound tinny/clashy/annoyingly loud/… On the other hand, hearing birds and crickets again is kind of cool.

My audiologist set my first pair of HAs to a low gain, much lower than my prescription would have indicated. Then after a week or so, I went back, and she raised things a bit. I think I had at least a third boosting to get things to prescription before she felt she was done. Those HAs served me faithfully for 7 years, but I really did need several months to get used to them. Getting used to hearing better was well worth the effort, but I’m grateful I was able to step up to “semi-normal” hearing at a measured pace. Sounds like your audi is in too much of a hurry.

Assuming you have a ski-slope loss, like most of us, all those high frequency sounds you suddenly hear again are annoying. In time you get used to hearing how things actually are.

When I got my second set of HAs (Phonak, M90-13T), a couple of months ago, my audiologist did just set things to prescription, but made plans to have me back for a check in, just to be sure things were ok on my side. I did ask for a couple of minor tweaks then, but mostly some program changes, e.g. I didn’t want frequency lowering (speech recover) in the “Music” program. With frequency lowering, I could hear a distinct tone when I played a C8, but the tone was clearly not a full octave above C7. I’d rather hear a thud than hear something inharmonious.

I suspect you would have issues with any new aids. That’s the way it is for first time users when they waited too long to get aids. Your brain has just not heard all those new sounds in such a long time it is overwhelming. Many of us here have and are going through this very situation. It truly takes patience and determination to get through this struggle. It does get better with time. So many success stories on this forum. Fantastic support system.

The first Costco fitter may have been in a hurry or just not one of the many good fitters they have???
The second fitter was not on the clock. You did not have an appointment for a fitting. Maybe your expectations were a bit high for a walk in.

Very disappointing encounter. As a new HA user you should certainly expect more useful information and guidance during fitting, and as a human and a customer you should expect a more courteous brush-off even on a walk-in.

Meanwhile it seems that people are not addressing the most notable issue with the HA, the apparent over-sensitivity of one of them to things like a bit of hair. That’s quite different than getting use to sounds you’ve been missing for years. Certainly a little experimenting on your part is in order though, perhaps adjusting volume on one at a time with the other off and then deciding just how they differ, taking in to account whether you need significantly more volume for one side than the other. The more you can tell them next visit the better chance of success in limited time. But of course that presumes the guy will listen.

Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh! This kind of testimonial drives me insane! Any decent fitter knows that there needs to be proper and thorough counseling with the patient after a fitting, especially with a new user. And that “not on the clock” business is maddening. We are in the health profession. Sometimes health does not punch a damn clock!

I am so sorry you had this experience. Most of the Costco fitters I’ve met are true professionals who deeply care for their patients. And I say this as a competitor!


Okay, clearly some people didn’t get the point to my post. As a first time user I fully expected to be surprised at the level of hearing that would be returned to me, and if anything I was a little underwhelmed. The only thing I really noticed, and expected, was that I was walking around second-guessing myself in an amusing way as I was hearing things, like people talking on a phone some distance away, and asking myself if I would have heard that before. I almost felt like pulling the hearing aids in and out all the time to detect the difference.

As for things like ‘my brain not hearing these new sounds in such a long time’ - really? Yeah, it’s been years since I heard electronic static in my right ear, or heard the loud sound of my hair brushing up against my ear at the slightest movement, or eaten a meal to the sound of plastic rubbing ever so slightly against my skin as I chewed. And it’s truly remarkable to have everything else sound normal, from the TV to my wife talking, only to have my daughter come into the room and sound like she’s suddenly screaming into my ear - that I really missed.

As for my ‘expectations’ walking into Costo, did you somehow manage to miss the preface to my comment? I made it patently clear that I didn’t walk in expecting the staff on hand to drop everything, but as there’s typically 2 - 3 people about I at least hoped that one of them might be able to reschedule the appointment at the end of the month to an earlier date, not least as there seems to be a fault of some kind with the right hearing aid that I just purchased brand new and I can’t just wait around for weeks to resolve the issue - that’s on Costco, not me, and any regular business, not least one dealing with a health issue, would or should do its best to resolve the matter quickly. And as someone who has owned his own business, worked regularly with customers for years, and was in fact employed in guest relations until recently, there’s ways and means to deal with the public, and the peremptory manner put on display by the audiologist was very unprofessional and rude, and it wasn’t the first time - since I’ve been going to this Costco he’s always given the vibe that he gives up his precious time to customers with the greatest reluctance. My time is also precious to me, and I sure as hell don’t punch in or out on a clock having to go back to the store to try and resolve an issue with the hearing aids I just bought from them. From the very beginning, it just seems like this whole thing has been dealt with in a very lazy and world-weary manner by the individual in question, with scant information provided and little in the way of feedback to my numerous questions. I’ve picked up far more on here about the KS9’s then I did from the audiologist.

1 Like

Is there another Costco within a reasonable distance that you can try? This guy doesn’t sound very helpful. Maybe another location has a better fitter.

There’s one about 13 miles away, but I’ll happily go the distance if it means dealing with someone who might actually be helpful and a little more user friendly and informative.

1 Like

They might wonder why you’re at a different store. You could say you seemed to get an abbreviated fitting and weren’t impressed by some after service so you’re trying this store.
Or not. Maybe they’ll think you’re a trouble customer or something.

I sympathize with your situation. I have the Phonak version, M90, that I got from the VA. They just did the REM thing, handed me the aids, and out the door you go. It seems that Phonak is selling the idea that with Marvels/KS9, everyone is fine with the first fit. I don’t think this is reality. Costco should recognize that something like hearing loss remediation isn’t one size fits all. I agree with you that what you are hearing with the aids is not how the world sounded back when you had good hearing, and you just have to adjust to it. I don’t think I could keep my sanity long enough to adjust to my aids. As bad as they are, what you have are actually among the better aids available right now. Try out a different Costco and see if you can find someone who is willing to treat you with the respect you deserve as a customer. Don’t give up. Let them know you are going to keep coming back until they have found a solution to your issues. Let us know how things go. This forum advertises itself as a community. We want you to keep us updated on your progress.

1 Like

As John Green said above. Try out a different Costco and see if you can find someone who is willing to treat you with the respect you deserve as a customer.

It is unfortunate, but it seems you got a Costco hearing aid center that does not have the best of staff. I would go to another Costco and get an appointment there. Ideally, I would go first to the location and explain your situation. That should give you a good idea about how they deal with customers.

As far as the aids go, what you are reporting for a new user of aids is not uncommon. Some fitters reduce the gain initially and then after you get used to wearing them, they increase the gain in steps. I find the gain thing to not be linear. If you have too little gain, everything kind of sounds good but quiet. If you go over a certain gain line things can go pretty wild. I recall getting a “hot” fit once at Costco, and leaving the store via the cash registers. It seemed like I could hear every squeaky wheel on every cart in the story. Grit on the floor under my feet sounded like it was exploding. The beeps from the cash registers were incredibly loud. I could not only hear the ones close to me, but also the ones 50 feet away. I think to some degree one gets used to this and what I describe kind of goes away. However, if the aids just have too much gain, they have too much gain, and you don’t get over it until they correct it.

As far as your own voice, that is a fairly common issue. I believe the KS9 aids have an adjustment which reduces low frequency gain to help a bit with it.

It’s no excuse to be a jackass, but hourly employees are often instructed that they cannot perform work while not clocked in. If he was on a “lunch” break, an employer couldn’t deduct that time from his pay if he even answered the phone. Because of the threat of OT lawsuits, HR frequently makes policies regarding the issue. It’s quite annoying on all sides, but it moves the responsibility back to the employee.

That said, I don’t know how Costco pays its HIS and it wasn’t the proper way to address the issue. His people skills need to be refined. He should have simply told you, “I can’t go over it at the moment because I’m not clocked in, but if you’ll come back at 2:55pm, I can answer your questions before my 3pm appt.” I’d try another Costco if one was close.


Timbo59, I still don’t see anyone explaining your perception of a very different experience between left and right sides. People, both in a forum like this and in the business, hear about certain common issues so often that there’s a risk of assuming that the next person is like the last when certain key words or phrases are used. If you happen to fall outside that 80 or 90 percentile and actually have a different issue it’s easy to get frustrated. I see the same in many health and general technology areas. Hang in there, back up, identify what they are stuck on, rephrase, move forward. It may still be exactly what they are saying but they just need to acknowledge your specific concern more directly and explain why the “typical” response really does apply. It’s a struggle sometimes, I am the primary health advocate for myself and two others with numerous issues and like it or not the onus falls on us to ensure we get through to the experts.

1 Like

You are so correct. It’s very easy to get narrow sighted and to get stuck on “autopilot.” I think if most providers remind themselves that the patient is the most important aspect of any medical practice, then both the provider and the patient are happier.

My mentor in the hearing industry is an 80+ year old audiologist who has truly been there and done that. When he was training me, fitting hearing aids was a pretty steep learning curve. Whenever I would ask a question about “How does this fitting look to you?” he would always answer, “What does the patient say?”

In hearing, we have two ways of testing a hearing aid fitting: Verification and validation. Verification uses equipment, e.g., things such as REM. Validation is patient feedback, such as “Hey, these sound pretty good!”

I read a lot of posts on here about REM, for example. Is REM important? Sure. It tells you if the hearing aid is capable of matching prescriptive targets. But, guess what? When a hearing aid matches those targets, it’s not always comfortable for the patient, especially a new hearing aid user. We sometimes forget that the computer is NOT the patient’s brain!

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from a new patient, “I went to XYZ, and I didn’t like the way the aids sounded. The fitter told me that the computer says that the settings are where the aids need to be, and I’d just have to get used to it.” Every time I hear that, I think my blood pressure goes through the roof.

You are correct to advise that the OP keep pushing. The Patient is the Primary Purpose for Practicing.


I also think the often overlooked alternative is the prescription formula used. They vary a lot, but often they are never tried when the user says they don’t like what they hear. The REM only gets you to the formula gain. It does no verification that the formula gain is appropriate or desirable.


Exactly! One thing about working with Lucid hearing aids at Sam’s Club is that, because of the algorithm used, we perform something called Loudness Balance. We basically find a comfortable volume for the 1.5kHz tone somewhere near the prescriptive curve, then we match that tone’s volume with others in the spectrum using the patient’s perceptions. It levels out the comfort level for the patient. Inevitably, we always have to bring down the 3k and 4k volumes because patients are typically sensitive to those high freqs in the beginning. I wish there were a way to do this across all hearing aid manufacturers, because it really does a great job of blending verification and validation.

Isn’t that the fundamental basis of DSL? Equal sensation level across the frequency spectrum?

1 Like