Looking for Australian Costco experience and policies

Hi all,
despite a massive amount of detail on people’s experience with Costco Hearing in the USA I can’t really find much for Australia. Certainly not recently. The local website has essentially NOTHING on their policies and extremely limited information on their range of hearing aid Models - they specify the KS10 but then only some of the brands. It appears you have to make an appointment to speak to one of the HA centre employees. I suspect they are not there every day.

Costco Australia Hearing centre

So - I am asking if there is anyone here who had used Costco Australia who can fill me in on:

  1. Are the HA fitters you encountered at Costco Audiologists or technicians (curious - not judgemental)
  2. Did they require their own audiogram if you already had one (I assume so…)
  3. Was the testing as comprehensive as a private audiologist if you have used one previously
  4. Was there a free trial period and how long for. Could you swap to trial a different model? How many times?
  5. Did they do REM when they fitted the HAs for you
  6. What was their follow up protocol for new aids? Review at 2,4,6 weeks etc?
  7. What sort of warranty/extended warranty was offered?
  8. Overall how do you rate your experience with them!

Lot of questions I know but before I bother to make an appointment (if at all) I prefer to be forearmed :smiley:
I also appreciate that the experience at one warehouse may be different at another but I assume the same policies will apply. It seems I know more about the US Costco process etc than the local :smiley:

Thanks for your input!

An alternative to Costco in Australia for cheaper HAs is Specsavers. Only some Specsaver branches do audiologist services so you have to check the website at www.specsavers.com.au to find out which.

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Hi Oz-Tack,

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 :slight_smile:

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Just by-the-by, as mentioned above, Specsavers hearing is also an option. Between the both Costco and Specsavers they seem to be the most budget friendly options in Oz currently (out of those that offer face-to-face hearing services). I’ve never actually tried Specsavers myself but a family member has and she’s pretty happy.

I like that they display their prices on their website too and are quite transparent like that. Here it is:

https://www.specsavers.com.au/hearing/hearing-aids/digital-hearing-range-and-prices

My understanding with SpecSavers is that they offer the same kind of model as Costco… they re-badge other providers hearing aids to their own and sell at a much cheaper price. Once again, I don’t believe that you can have your aids purchased from them (at least their own branded aids, that is) adjusted by outside audiologists.

Anyway, that’s just some more info for you.

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@MickeyCee: I don’t live in Australia, nor am I a potential CostCo customer (VAC covers the cost of the instruments I need to cope with my service-related hearing loss), but I have to thank you, as a recent Forum member, for your writeup.

It’s posts like yours that (IMO) contribute so much to the helpfulness and appeal of this site, and I just want to thank you and all the other Members that take the time to craft clear, detailed answers to important questions.

This Forum has improved my understanding of HAs, and what they can and can’t do for me, immeasurably, and I’m sincerely grateful to everyone.

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@MickeyCee - That is an amazingly comprehensive AND extremely helpful write up! I really appreciate the time you have taken to reply in such detail.

Overall it certainly appears your Costco experience has been positive and everything you have mentioned reinforces my thoughts about trying them. The 180 day trial period I find very (pleasantly) surprising but I have no doubt that Costco have a robust business model and know what they are doing.

My thoughts about trying Costco are not really driven by economics - I am just not sure what I would gain by quadrupling (quintupling?) the price to attend a “private practice” (although I don’t really see where Costco falls outside this definition.). The current generation of Kirkland aids (KS10) DO appear to be at least the equivalent - if not identical - to the top of the line Phonaks but appear to sell for almost a fifth of the price I was quoted elsewhere and include a brilliant trial period (180 v 30 days) and ongoing service AND a generous warranty period as well.

I note the negatives you mention but really none of them is a game changer that would warrant increasing the price 5 times! Of course - I appreciate your experience may not translate across to mine - Australia is a very large country and 2 Costcos several thousand kilometres apart may be very different - but the general policy and process you have outlined is very reassuring.

WRT Specsavers - haven’t really thought of them but from the link you posted they are certainly better priced that most although the overall benefits do not look as attractive as Costco.

Once again - thanks for the comprehensive review - it has been immeasurably useful
Cheers!

What Spud said :smiley:
(Apologies for shortening your name :wink: )

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No dramas at all SpudGunner and OzTack… glad to be of help. (I’m just wrapped there’s a forum like this… only wish I had have found it earlier :smiley:)

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Looks like Specsavers offers a 90 day return period and 1 year free service. Unclear to me what happens after the first year. Also looks like some government plan that helps covers costs. (HSP) Is that available if purchasing through Costco?

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The HSP - hearing services program - is a government program to subsidise the cost of hearing services/aids for eligible people in Australia . Eg health care card and pensioners and some veterans. I suspect that even if Costco won’t directly deal with them, a client could submit their receipts for consideration.

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The audiologist/technician distinction may be important when it comes to claiming for hearing aids on private insurance. They may quibble if not fitted by an audiologist.