Yeah so my current set of hearing aids, Kirkland Signature 9’s (KS9’s), are from Costco. This was the first time that I bought aids from Costco after always having gone to fully independent audiology practices in the past.
So to answer some of your questions:
- My current Costco audi is an actual audiologist and not an audiometrist or technician. I’ve only personally been to one other Costco to have my aids adjusted and that person was also an audiologist. Furthermore, although I haven’t been to one of the other stores, I know their hearing centre is staffed by an audiologist, too. Based on that, I’m not sure whether Costco in Oz utilizes audiometrists/technicians like they do in other parts of the world.
2 & 3. Costco didn’t require you to have an audiogram. If you have one already I guess you could bring that along but it’s not at all necessary. Your initial appt is a longer one where they perform a thorough hearing Ax (they’ve got all the latest equipment) where you come out with an audiogram which they’ll explain to you in detail, and from there notify you if you need hearing aids, which would be most appropriate etc etc.
The testing was certainly comprehensive and just as good, if not better, than the other 3 practices I’ve been to across my hearing aid journey.
Free trial period? Well, not free, as in you do have to pay for the aids once they’ve been fitted and given to you and you walk out the door, but yeah, you get a 6 month trial period!! This is fantastic and I’ve never encountered this anywhere else. The most that the others (that I’ve come across, at least) offer is a 45 day free trial period but most offer a 30 day free trial period. With Costco, I haven’t needed to do this myself but if within the 6 month period you’re not happy, you can return them and get your money fully refunded. My understanding is that yes, you can certainly swap within that first 6 months to try out a different model, where I’m assuming the 6 month period for that particular model would then commence. How many times can you do this, you ask? I don’t think they’d want you to go through their entire range but I’m sure you could trial all those aids that they think would suit your loss and would be the best fit for you after talking with you about your needs.
They certainly did do REM testing on fitting the hearing aids for you. I was impressed with this because it’s not always something that’s been done for me in the past when it’s been necessary.
For this question, I can’t quite remember exactly, but maybe the first appointment after fitting was 3-4 weeks? I’m sorry, I can’t quite remember. I do know with my past experiences with aids that it wasn’t too long or too short - you do need time to get used to new aids.
Re warranty, this was something else that I was impressed with with Costco. Although I don’t have the receipt in front of me I believe it is 3 years for the KS9’s. My previous aids it’s only been 1-2 years.
For me, my overall experience with Costco has been a positive one. Sadly it’s come down to financial reasons for me. After having been to 4 other audiology clinics over the years and having had about 5 sets of aids, including these ones, every time you are due for new aids you get sick of being quoted between AUD$6-9K!!
Costco’s aids are obviously much cheaper than that, where the KS9’s were about AUD$1900 a pair (not each! And I think the max I was quoted should I have wanted the Phonak Brio’s was $3500, something like that) and get this, in addition to their better warranty than other audi’s, you don’t have to pay for each visit/adjustment you have with Costco. This is all covered by your Costco Membership of AUD$60 a year. The little adjustments, particularly due to now having the ability to stream music/phone calls etc and requiring alterations for these and not just the tweaks to hear better, can add up, and for me at the independent places I used to attend ended up being about $110 a pop! So that part is also good.
Obviously there’s some downsides with Costco aids too:
- they don’t offer all of the hearing aids available on the market.
- they might not have the absolute latest aids or have/have activated the latest features in their aids, but the range they do have is still adequate I reckon.
- your nearest Costco might not be as close, geographically to your home, as your independent local audiology clinic.
- at least for me, I know that the Costco I visit has only 1 audiologist that works there, therefore, if she’s on leave, I need to either wait till she comes back to see her or, go to the other Costco. Both are within the same distance as me, but I like her much better than the other dude at the other Costco.
- not all of the aids, but some of them, like the KS9’s I’ve been told, only Costco can adjust them, and you cannot take these to any other audiology clinic willy nilly. They won’t want to know you.
- Costco audi’s will not adjust any of your other aids or accessories that you purchased elsewhere.
All up, for me, I wanted to give them a go for me this time, primarily based on financial reasons, where I kinda figured that if after the initial appointment and testing that if I got a bad vibe or didn’t like the service offered, I could always go somewhere else and stick with the (overpriced!) independent audi’s out there, or, have given SpecSavers a try. I’ve had great service and I’m happy overall.
Obviously this is all just my experience and YMMV