As I say “huh” to the wife too often…and have the TV up to loud… according to her, I am considering getting HA’s. I received a letter yesterday from a local hearing center about testing they will be doing in our area. This center is an Audibel dealer. Here is a porton of the letter:
"…We also strive to bring you these product at the lowest price possible. Our everyday prices are the lowest in the state. Occasionally. the manufacturer will allow us to temporarily offer even deeper discounts and that’s why I’m writing you today.
On …dates…we will be in …location… and we will be offering you our best deal ever. Our top of the line hearing instruments will be up to 80% off. As an example, this will allow you to get a 100% digital hearing aid that retails nationwide for over $4,495 for only $895. As an added bonus, we will also provide free batteries for 12 months. I know this all sounds too good to be true, but I promise you it’s real."
Is this too good to be true?
What models of the Audibel hearing aid would be included at this price?
your impression of Audibel Products
What features would I have/ or not have for $900 per aid?
Other brands I shoud consider.
A little about my lifestyle…golf…pistol shooting…RVing (camping).
I’m 70 years old so nothing real difficult .
Any other information you would like to provide someone just starting
out in this adventure.
Also, any thoughts about the AMP HA’s.
In advance, thanks for your help. Sorry for the long post.
If you are going to go to the Audibel event, go in with knowledge on their HA line and their prices gathered from the internet. Just Google Audibel hearing aid prices and I’m sure you will come up with someone posting the prices. You can also go to Costco if you are near one; they offer a 90 day trial and return policy. Finally, if you are shooting guns I hope you are using hearing protection.
Simply put yes. First off, the marketing people in the hearing aid industry are playing a stupid game of one upmanship. There was a time when companies would offer 25% discount, and it would be real. It’s now very normal to advertise 50% discounts. Here we see 80%. The problem is, the MRSP is whatever they want it to be. Audibel (or their parent company Starkey) do not force an MRSP on their hearing aids (with the exception of the AMP), and so 80% off a fictitious initial price is irrelevant.
Last time I had the figures in front of me the WHOLESALE price of the top of the line Audibel aid was greater than $895. So how could they sell at below wholesale, and kick in free batteries, a warranty, a test, and life time or multiple years of other service?
I also know of no hearing aid that routinely sells at $4495. Few clinics are getting away with $9000 sets of hearing aids in this economy.
All that said, when open house events like this are run, it is not uncommon to get very competitive pricing at a genuine reduction over the regular price. I just feel like this letter is getting a little carried away!
I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that at that price it would be something discontinued. The X series and Ignite aids (to give them their Starkey brand name) recently took over from some older technology. They are probably selling off the previous generation of technology if the price is below $1K.
I managed an Audibel clinic for years. It’s basically a franchise for Starkey. If I want to open a hearing aid clinic, have my hand held by some helpful reps, have a protected territory then I could open an Audibel clinic. You buy the franchise from Starkey, and off you go. The aids are the same as Starkey, and Starkey is the largest hearing aid company in America.
The quality of the instruments are not in question. It’s really going to boil down to the skill of the hearing professional.
I’m guessing if you are lucky, you’d be looking at something like this for that price:
The major European brands are Phonak, Oticon, ReSound, Siemens, Widex, and then some other slightly less well known or alternative labels for those I just mentioned.
Make sure as part of the test they let you listen to real hearing aids. Make sure they explain everything thoroughly. Understand that everything is open to negotiation. The price, the trial period, the fee if you don’t like them and return them, the warranty, and so on. Be prepared to walk away. If your gut tells you that they don’t care, or they are more interested in your money than helping you. Walk away.
If they are pushing a big open house, they are probably going to tell you that this is a golden opportunity to buy now at amazing prices. But like buying a car, there’s always another car, another deal, another sale.
The issue I have with the AMP is that it is not a custom fit product. It’s basically a cylinder with a rubber sleeve around it. I’ve never fitted one. But actually for the right person I’ve heard good things.
Personally though I’d rather spend a few hundred more per ear and get a RIC. Likely to be more comfortable, more useful, and last longer.
The AMP (at least in my opinion) is a cheap entry level system designed to get people in the door. Most companies that dispense this would expect anyone they fit with it to be back in 1-3 years to buy ‘real’ hearing aids. So why not just do that to begin with and save money in the long run, as well as being happier?
I am always very skeptical about these kinds of come-ons. You can expect a lot of pressure to buy, I suspect. I’m not familiar with the Audibel brand. I’ve used Resound and Oticon for 10+ years and they are quality instruments. Other major brands include: Phonak, Siemens, Widex, etc.
My very first hearing aid experience was not a good one with Costco. So much depends on the audiologist that you choose. They need to be very familiar with the device, and know how to program them to fit your hearing loss. You might consider contacting a local audiologist (or two or three) where you will get professional advice and (usually) no pressure to buy. It’s pretty standard to offer a free hearing test and a free trial for 60 or 90 days. You can return them any time during this period, with no questions asked.
I don’t know the degree of your hearing loss, so it’s hard to say how good the Audibels would be for you. $900 is at the low end of the scale for HAs. Perhaps, if you only have a mild loss, they will be adequate. The more expensive aids have more features and options, but again it’s a very individual experience. At the very least, I would make sure the aids have a telecoil.
I do know that a large percentage of first-time HA users have a hard time getting used to them and many give up in frustration. Again, that is where the audiologist comes in. Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you feel like they care and listen to you? Many times, it takes 5 or 6 return visits to get a new HA programmed properly. So, don’t give up, and utilize that trial period. If it’s not working for you, try another HA brand or another audi.
Finally, do your homework, like seb said. HLAA (Hearing Loss Assoc of America) is a really good resource. See: hearingloss.org
My thought is it’s true as written… It’s against the law to advertise something that is false. However, ad writer’s are very slick at their trade and how an ad is constructed can make a considerable difference in the meanings.
I put those two sentences above in different colors because the only thing they have in common is they are in the same paragraph. The RED sentence states they are discounting their top of the line models for up to 80% off (see Z’s comments on discounts).
The BLUE sentence is probably talking about a totally different HA than the top of the line model – which explains how it could be less than the whole sale price of the top of the line model.
it’s really isn’t black helicopters… I seen full page ads in the newspaper for most the clinic around here (starkey included). I once asked my AD about them and she said the Reps from the companies insist on setting them up.
In all fairness here, please understand that Audibel is a franchise. There are hundreds and hundreds of franchise holders all across America. They essentially are self employed business people who run their offices within certain agreed parameters set by the parent company Starkey.
However, there is nothing to stop one franchise owner from using this kind of marketing if they want to. For all we know if Starkey ever saw it, they may ask them to tone it down or change it.
So to make a sweeping generalization about a massive nationwide franchise, supplied by the largest American hearing aid manufacturer in the world, is a bit of an unreasonable reach.
One man or woman who owns this franchise put out a letter you don’t like. This is a reflection on his or her practice not on the Audibel name.
Thanks for your responses and your insight to the business. Based on what I’m seeing, I don’t know which is worse; used car sales, mattress sales or HA sales.
I really interested in seeing how well this guy will stand behind his letter. How much scam…if any…is in the letter. I have never minded shopping for cars and have always gotten pretty good deals. First, I try to do my home work, second, I’m not afraid to say “no thanks” and walk.
I have no problem with someone making a buck, however I don’t want them to retire on my sale.
I have always considered myself a value sort of person. Kinda a Honda, Toyota sort of guy. I don’t need a Lexus or Bentley. On the other hand I never was a Yugo fan. I also don’t have to have this years technology. I’m still happy with my iphone 3gs. What would be the major difference between the most current generation and the previous generation. I have also read that I probably don’t need 64 channels or bands.
While I personally don’t like the bargain basement style advertising, some folks go for it. To me I wouldn’t get hung up on what percentage off the MRSP they are talking about, because the MRSP is variable anyway. What’s important is the bottom line. What are they actually selling the hearing aids for.
In today’s money, the entry level stuff should be $2K-$3K a set. Mid range around $4K a set, and top of the line under $6K a set. This seems like the going rate. And in fairness if they are offering even recently discontinued technology for $895, that is a reasonable starting point.
So hyperbole a side it does sound like this dealer is offering a genuinely reasonable price. He just got a little carried away with trying to make it sound good in the marketing. I’m not sure it would be fair to crucify him over this, we don’t have enough information to know if he is good or bad.
If you don’t mind shopping, a free no obligation visit can’t hurt. Either you will like him or you won’t. The hearing aids they offer are among the best in the world, and if they are priced well and you like the guy, there’s no problem.
I got my hearing aids 5 years ago, after a sudden hearing loss. I didn’t have time to do research, and wouldn’t have known where to start anyway; luckily, I was with a good audiologist. You will spend quite a bit of time tweaking your programming at first, and it can be quite frustrating. Most people think that you get an audiogram, they program the aids, and off you go- it’s not quite that simple. Be patient. It takes a few tries to get your programming where you like it; after your programming has been changed, it takes a couple weeks for you to get used to it. I remember a couple of adjustments where, when I first left the audiologist, I HATED how things sounded; two weeks later, I was really happy with the settings. Hang in there, it’s worth it. One of the best pieces of advice I was given, was to keep a little notebook and jot down my impressions of my hearing. I would write down if something made me jump, or sounded hollow or tinny, or even if things sounded ‘flat’. Don’t worry- sometimes your strange adjectives make perfect sense to the audiologist. It’s a process, but SO worth it. One thing that never came up when I first got my hearing aids- I am very active, and perspire heavily; I needed water resistant aids, and didn’t know such things were available. Talk about your lifestyle and hobbies with your audiologist. Good luck!
"For every marketing letter you hate, there could be someone out there who says “Hey, I like the sound of this guy.” -EnglishDispenser
This is so true. The Audibel franchise in the Toledo, OH area ran a similar ad, that frankly made me wary; turns out, I have a family member that’s been dealing with them for YEARS, and they have an excellent reputation there, and have a great rating with the BBB. So why the flashy ads? Times are hard, and people want to know they’ve gotten the absolute most for their money. This kind of ad does appeal to some people. In this economy, it seems retailers will try almost anything.
I never used price advertising just for this reason. It is off of what? HearX was famous for their buy one get one free sales. The problem is at MSRP you ended up paying more than the regular price, that is why they went into bankruptcy. If you find out what Audibel (Starkey) product they are fitting for $895 let me know, I would be interested, as it cost me more.