Noobie

Hello all,

I am brand new to this forum and the hearing aid scene.

My father has had In-The-Ear (ITE) aids in the past and recently had new audio tests done. Based on the tests, the guy he saw recommended a few of his new Behind-The-Ear (BTE) products at what I imagine may be an obnoxious mark-up. My dad liked the Audibel Virtue 12 (I think the same as Starkey Destiny 1200). However, I have heard mixed reviews on that line of aids - not to mention the guy wanted $6500 a pair!

My questions to you all:

Any advice on how I can best help my dad in this proces?
Any experiences with this specific product?
Any products out there with the same or better functionality for my dad?
Can one shop online for aids? If so, where are some good/reputable sites?
Since he’s looking at Behind-The-Ear, does he need a proper fit by a doc?
What about Hearing Planet or Genesis? Are they to be avoided?
Where can my dad go with his tests to try out more aids for himself?
What would you all do in my situation?

Thank you all in advance for any input you may share!

It will mean a great deal to me and my dad,

-Tiffany

Hi hchytd

First of all, not everyone will agree with answers to a couple of your questions, but I’ll take a first shot at it:

“Any advice on how I can best help my dad in this proces?”

Since your Dad isn’t new to HAs, that helps. If he’s been wearing analog aids, he may have problems adjusting to digital aids. They sound different. Whichever hearing aid you eventually select, try to pick one with which your hearing specialist has lots of experience. This is really important. New digital aids are complex, and can be tricky to program well. Be patient. Ask lots of questions.

“Any experiences with this specific product?”

Use the search feature here, and look for threads dealing with specific makes and models in which you’re interested. I wear a pair of Phonak microEleva open fit BTE aids. So far, I’ve been very satisfied with them. Even the entry level or mid-range HAs have great capabilities. Check the experience of the person that will do the fitting (programming).

“Any products out there with the same or better functionality for my dad?”

Just about any of the newer digital instruments should be good, as long as your Dad’s loss is within the range of HA.

“Can one shop online for aids? If so, where are some good/reputable sites?”

This is a “hot button topic”. I’ve seen both extremes of satisfaction/dissatisfaction. I bought mine locally, so I could get local “face to face” support. One potential alternative is Costco, which will have much lower prices than a private business. You’ll be working with a certified Hearing Instrument Specialist" (HIS), not an Audiologist.

“Since he’s looking at Behind-The-Ear, does he need a proper fit by a doc?”

No. Either an Audiologist or certified Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS) should be able to fit a BTE without any problems.

“What about Hearing Planet or Genesis? Are they to be avoided?”

No experience. See above comment about online purchases.

“Where can my dad go with his tests to try out more aids for himself?”

Just about any hearing aid provider. Most offer a 1-2 month trial period. If you don’t like it, bring it back and try another, or go someplace else. There may be a “restocking fee”. Get the details, and don’t let the trail period expire.

“What would you all do in my situation?”

Just exactly what you’re doing right now. Get all the information you can, then make an informed decision that fits YOUR needs. :slight_smile:

Dag

First off, on the pricing. I happen to know what the cost price is on those devices, but I had to sign a confidentiality agreement to find out! What you need to understand is that those aids cost over $40m to develop. Also once an hearing professional ‘sells’ those aids at $6,500 he takes his profit and has to accept that he probably will not get to sell aids to your father again for perhaps ten years. For those ten years he has to keep his office open, employing his receptionist, paying for advertisements, overheads, all the while offering (presumably) free service during all that time.

The price you were quoted is not unreasonable for that kind of technology and quality.

Here’s your answers:

“Any advice on how I can best help my dad in this proces?”

  • Go to the test with him, and see if the professional is professional and knowledgeable. Make sure the professional lets your father listen to real hearing aids, programmed to match his loss. Talk to your father while he has the test aids in, and see how he hears you.

“Any experiences with this specific product?”

  • I’ve fitted a few dozen of that specific model. It’s wonderful, and one of the most impressive BTE aids I’ve seen. You are correct in that the Starkey version is the same thing. You may find the Destiny a shade cheaper, even though it is the same.

“Any products out there with the same or better functionality for my dad?”

  • There are some pros on here that love some of the foreign imports. I don’t. I think that the aids you’ve mentioned are great. 70dB of gain, and one of the best feedback management systems available.

“Can one shop online for aids? If so, where are some good/reputable sites?”

  • Starkey / Audibel do not authorize such purchases. For a good reason.

“Since he’s looking at Behind-The-Ear, does he need a proper fit by a doc?”

  • You could order the aids online, and then buy some molds for probably $100 or so from a hearing professional. The issue is that this type of aid has literally thousands of possible adjustments. Who will do these if you buy online?

“Where can my dad go with his tests to try out more aids for himself?”

  • It depends on the professionals available in your area.

“What would you all do in my situation?”

  • Learn all you can, make sure he gets a nice long free trial with full refund if he’s not happy. Talk to people and find out who locally does a good job.

I have dealt with Hearing Planet for several years, and have not had any problems with them. Their customer service is very good, and they carry several manufacturers. They are basically a buying group. You buy the aids from them, and then are referred to an audiologist in your area for fitting.

I don’t have any experience with Genesis.

Again, not bad in theory. But Starkey/Audibel, like many manufacturers specifically frown upon the practice of buying online. In fact from their web site:

“Starkey does not sell its hearing aid products directly to Internet retailers. Starkey does not endorse the practice of selling hearing aids to consumers via the Internet. We do not believe that Internet retailers can provide our consumers with the same high quality professional services as our carefully chosen worldwide network of authorized hearing professionals. There are retailers who sell Starkey products via the Internet who are not authorized by us to do so.”

The Destiny, like many hearing aids these days requires calibration and initial set up that can only be done with the patient present. Beyond that, several follow up visits should be provided to ensure great service. Beyond that there should be 3-4 free services visits provided each year.

Just how much follow up do Hearing Planet pay the local specialist for?

In looking at the web site, they are quoting $2,499 each for these aids with a one year warranty and free adjustments for one year.

So if Audibel is offering the same aids for $6,500, as in this case, the saving is obviously $1,502 for the set.

But Audibel offer life time free service, not just one year. Many Audibel centers offer a longer warranty and free batteries too. I would also consider that if you buy online Hearing Planet tell you which professional to go see, and you go. But the problem is, if you don’t like the professional, tough luck, because he’s the guy who has been paid by Hearing Planet to fit your aids and service you for a year. If you don’t like your professional, you now have to go elsewhere and pay someone to take care of you. Even if you like your pro, what is he going to charge for service in year 2 or 3 or 4?

For my money, I’d rather pay the extra 25% for life time free service and to get the up front chance to see the pro perform before I hand over my money.

Thank you to all who have replied so far!

I have received more input from other sources as well on my questions.

Unfortunately, much of the input contradicts each other, and not suprisinglly there seems to be alot of subjective bias when considering the source - not always (but often).

For example, I can usually tell who the local audiologist and/or vocational hearing specialists are from their response. They are usually the ones who adamantly justify their pricing and the importance of the personal service they provide. In addition, the companies selling the products often do the same thing - as to why they feel one shouldn’t price shop their product or buy direct from retailers, etc.

In some cases, it’s not unlike optometrists or dentists - who wish to see you as often as possible, bill your insurances, mark up their products considerably, and still complain about competition and specifically, non-local internet purchasing or direct retailers.

It is often difficult to know who or what to trust…

However, I think the more one researches anything, the better informed one’s decision can be.

My search continues…

Thanks again!

-Tiffany

In all fairness, you are asking people for their opinions, so you are always going to get a subjective response.

It sounds like you have rather a personal bias yourself. You alluded to this in your original question, and now when you hear answers, you seem stubborn to accept them.

When you post a question basically implying that people in a certain profession are ripping people off, wouldn’t you expect them to defend themselves?

While you will probably choose not to believe me, I’ve seen figures for various hearing aid businesses. Their bottom line is no better or worse than any similar business. So it seems unreasonable to imply some kind of ‘rip off’ label for the entire industry.

Goodness, now we’re attacking dentists and optometrists? Let’s face it, in America health care is all about the money. Hearing aids are no exception to this. But just because your doctor is getting paid $200,000 a year, does that mean you can’t trust her?

Tiffany, you’re right in that research is certainly beneficial. But only if you approach it with an open mind. Your first post seemed to be quite prejudiced, and your subsequent posts seem to continue to be skeptical and negative towards various sectors. Having worked in the industry since 1994, I can assure you I’ve met people who would go the extra mile to help your father hear, and would really care about his results and treating him right. Equally, I’ve met people in the industry that I wouldn’t trust to clean my windows. But the same is true of pretty much any industry. So try and keep to a healthy level of skepticism and accept that there are some nice people out there. :rolleyes:

Hi Tiffany

I would think you’d WANT to hear from all parts of the spectrum, including Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Specialists and experienced and inexperienced users. Professionals have as valid a viewpoint as we lay persons, it just may be different from yours, that’s all. I also think that the vast majority of the professionals participating in discussions here make their status perfectly clear. As far as trying to decide who to trust, in the end, you have to trust your own judgement, because you’re the one who will have to live with your decisions. There is a huge amount of accurate valuable information available on these forums, but a major part of that information is subjective opinion, which is exactly what you want! Gather the information, listen to the arguments, weigh the pros and cons, then make YOUR decision. This is just one potential source. I hope you continue to read and post here, because it’s still a great source of information. My 2 cents.

Dag

Just to add to Dag’s comments, I think you get a good range of perspectives on this board, and can usually surmise the background of the poster. On some other forums that I follow but rarely post to (a google newsgroup) the childish sniping, griping and general rudeness of a few posters, whether users or audies, has made that board all but useless (other than the sick entertainment value of seeing people have at each others posts).

I’m glad that we get a range of perspectives here, and very happy that I feel like I can share my experiences, and read about others, freely and openly, without such disrespectful discourse as takes place in that newsgroup.

Thank you again for your posts…

To begin with, I was not invalidating the subjective bias, but rather sharing that the reality of contradictory input from different sources as well as the motivations of some make can and often does make it difficult to decide on what to do as well as who to always trust. Again, I do realize that is the reality though.

Secondly, I did not generalize, but rather used qualifiers (i.e. usually, often, some). And my thoughts and opinions are not based on unfair prejudice but on my experiences (as well as many I know and speak with).

Most I know or talk with on the subject of healthcare in these areas, who also have had numerous experiences with local business owner professionals throughout the healthcare industry, have shared quite similar feedback - and often frustration.

Again, I appreciate all input and the full range of perspectives, and will always do my best to consider the sources and motivations, in my search to become better informed.

So far, my father’s experiences with this has been for the most part frustrating - and I am doing my best to find trustworthy sources and and the most affordable product that is ideal for him. I will continue to utilize this forum and others - as well as encourage him to visit more audiologists/hearing specialists and try more aids.

Hoping for better days ahead.

Thanks again,

-Tiffany

Tiffany:

“I am doing my best to find trustworthy sources and and the most affordable product that is ideal for him.”

Talk about realistic expectations with your audi…