I wore Kirkland 4.0 HAs for about five years. They failed repeatedly and each time I had to make a 3 hour round trip to Costco to drop them off and then a week later another one to pick them up. They never did work great, even when they were working, but they were way better than nothing. The last time I made the trip to Costco they replaced the failed left side RIC with one that had a wire that was shorter than the original one because they did not have the right size for it. That caused the wire to constantly tug on the earmold and dislodge it, causing feedback squeals. The custom earmolds would frequently fall off of the RIC and I would end up with an earmold in my ear that had no RIC in it. Again, shoddy workmanship and lousy service, but CHEAP.
Last year I decided to upgrade, and bought a pair of Resound Forte HAs from Costco. They were night and day better than the Kirklands in most ways, but I was still not satisfied with them. The fitter at Costco did a really minimal job of setting them up (only two programs), and they never did fit right… the domes were too small and kept working their way deeper into my ears until they would bottom out against my eardrum and stop working. The domes were constantly plugging with wax. I had to reposition them and clean them several times a day to keep them working. Costco said they could get custom earmolds made for them instead of the domes, but that would cost more money and require me to make another 3 hour round trip to pick them up.
Then one of them stopped working completely after about a month and I had to do the 3 hour round trip to Costco again. At that point I was fed up with them, feeling that they were such a PITA to use that I would just return them for refund and go back to the Kirklands. They were better, but not $3000 better by a long shot. I returned them for refund.
Several more months passed and the annoyances of the Kirklands got me looking for new ones again, but I was tired of dealing with Costco so looked for alternatives. I did not find any alternatives to Costco that were as cheap, but cheap comes with crappy Costco fitters and service, so decided I was gonna have to spend more money.
I am a member of AARP and was interested in their hearing aid program. I made an appointment with a local HearUSA affiliate hearing aid center. The fitter there spent quite a while with me and I finally settled on a pair of Signia Pure 7NX (I have profound loss in both ears) with 312 batteries and custom earmolds. They were quite a bit more pricey, but they had a discount going on them plus a 10% AARP discount and I decided to go with them. The fitter took the foam earmold impressions and I made an appointment for a week later to pick them up.
First off, night and day difference in the earmolds. The ones from Costco looked like they were made in a 7th grade woodshop class. The surface was not smooth, they did not go into my ear canal very far, the RICs were loose in them and the mics on the RICs did not even line up with the hole in the earmold… basically crappy workmanship. In contrast, the ones from HearUSA are like jewels. Crystal clear plastic, highly polished and extend quite a bit deeper into my ear canal. They have flanges on them that both keep them from going too deep in my ear canal and provide handle for seating them properly in my ears. They are marked prominently with red / blue dots to help you know which ear they go into, although I can tell by looking at them which one goes in which ear without the colors. So, they are physically very comfortable especially compared to the crappy Costco ones and the never staying in place Resound Forte domes.
The fitter spent 2 hours with me tuning them, going outside to listen to stuff like traffic going by, making more manual adjustments with the Real Ear test to tailor them exactly to my loss. He put in six programs including one that folds the highest frequencies down to lower frequencies. Further, with these HAs he can make adjustments to them remotely, unlike Costco. Costco requires you to visit their store for anything whatsoever because they want you to spend money in the store during your visit and I’m sure most people do. They don’t have the tinnitus feature or remote adjustments also to reduce the price. The Signias have both (although I don’t have tinnitus so don’t need that feature).
The sound from the Signias is superb. Their “Own Voice” feature really does work and makes my own voice sound much more natural to me. I like the 312 battery size (both the Kirkland 4.0 and Resound Fortes I had used 13 batteries) because it makes the HAs quite a bit smaller and they don’t interfere with my glasses nearly as much as the larger ones. So far, 312 batteries have been lasting me five days vs about 7 days for the 13 batteries, a trade-off I am glad to live with.
I am very pleased with the Signias at this point and hope I continue to be. I think the far better fitter made a big difference too. No more Costco for me.