Visiting the Audiologist is like going to a car dealership?

#1

I don’t want to offend anyone. I hope nobody takes it that way. I can’t help but to compare getting hearing aids to buying a new car. The people are always super nice and accommodating, but I honestly feel like their only goal is to sell hearing aids. They even push the test drive. If I go in with a set I already own, they tell me about how much better the models are they sell. If I shop around, all I hear is how much better their clinic is than the other place and how they provide more. I even had one audiologist say, “Let me take to the manager/ owner, to see if we can get you a better deal”. I understand this is business, and they are there to make money, but I have never felt this way when visiting any other type of medical professional. It makes the whole process feel very confusing, frustrating, and shady.

13 Likes

#2

Yep - some what a car dealerships. Sure they want you to “hear” better but mainly through buying their HA at what ever their prices are. Most Audi’s think most HA customers know very little about HA’s, which is probably true. I just went to a HA dealer thinking he’d offered a wide range of brands and prices. I specifically said I was was interested in Phonak Marvel up front. Well after an hour plus of talking, checking my ears and doing an outside the booth hearing test, I asked again about the Marvel and cost. That’s when I was told the Audi didn’t carry any HA brands other then Signia. What a waste of time.

1 Like

#3

I think you need to treat yourself to a Costco hearing aid center visit. They do not sell on commission and if you are a member they will give you a free hearing test with no pressure to buy any of their hearing aids. And better still what I would consider their best product is the one with their name on it, and sells at the lowest price. No negotiating, no hassle, no need to go meet with the manager…

9 Likes

#4

I don’t think cardealers have to be so two faced about it. They just sell cars, that’s it. Nobody expects them to know how they’re build, how they function: They expect them to know some numbers and in what color it’s available. What’s more,they usually have a local brand monopoly.

Hearing aid dispensers have build up an image of care providers. However, ongoing innovation makes them nearly obsolete. Not only are the changes going that fast, that I found more than once that the software was new to them, too. The REM fitting also generates better results than the client feedback driven fine tuning.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands most chains have been bought by the HA industry. So the brands they carry strongly depends on the chain owner. For example, The Dutch hearing aid chain Schonenberg changed owner a year ago to the Sonova group and switched their house brand from Oticon to Phonak, IIRC.

If you got the feeling that they are desperately pushy, than it seems to me that they have rather good reasons!

0 Likes

#5

As I was waiting for my audi appointment I noticed the doddering old darlings that came in for new batteries etc and thought how vulnerable a clientele they were. I wondered how many agreed to the first price quoted as I have seen happen at car dealerships. My Marvels were purchased for $1200 less than the first quote so I knew there was a lot of padding.

After all my free trials and adjustments I was ushered to the receptionist to make payment and to start my 90 day “return anytime” period and my audi left with his next patient,

I was handed a “Warranty” document for signature and was stunned to see that if I returned within the 90 days there was a $200 “fitting fee” charge.
Additionally there was a $300 per deductible if a hearing aid was lost or damaged.

I was pissed and the receptionist was flustered so on returning home I sent an email pointing out we had a done deal on deliverables and price and that I didnt feel bound by such later added conditions requesting confitmation they would be waived.

The clinic owner replied by email waiving the fitting fee but maintaining the deductibles as they were charged by Phonak to which reply I ignored.

I then got a call from her requesting I return the aids and get lost. I declined saying I had too much time invested.

I told her that I thought it was a sleazy car dealer like tactic to not disclose these charges up front and to wait until the client was anxious to get the whole process over at checkout. Vulnerable people at a vulnerable time.

If I lose one or both, I will pay the deductible and go to small claims court to recoup which will be fun for a retired litigator.

I trialed the Costco Brios but couldnt stand the compilot so returned them with no hassle or charge. I expected the same transparency from a health care professional. No Way!

At least with a car dealer you expect duplicity.

10 Likes

#6

I’m curious as to why one would need this Compilot device? I have the KS8 HA’s from Costco, and have not found any need for a device to connect to my TV. I guess it may depend on the individual hearing loss, but I find watching TV the normal way just fine. I suspect I may irritate my wife a little as I now like to run the volume quite a bit lower, and she is not willing to admit she may have a touch of hearing loss…

I find my iPhone gives me all the control I need for my HA’s and allows direct streaming of phone calls or iTunes music. The only bit of an issue is that the streamed sound is a bit flat compared to real life sounds.

2 Likes

#7

I find this thread refreshing and will add that my experiences with audiologists run similar. I don’t believe they ALL are of a mindset to only make money, but I do find the experience reminiscent of visiting a used car lot. My first audi experience was in a non-profit environment – very kind people who sincerely worked to educate about hearing loss and help those with less resources. I got my first HAs there. But I was never told how to maintain them or even that they needed to be maintained beyond changing the batteries. Instead each time I found my sound reduced, I came into the building and my HAs were taken into the back room. They were returned to me working better and I was told they just needed a little tweaking. It wasn’t until I did a little searching online, that I learned about wax guards, how to remove and clean the receivers.

I’m currently trialing the Phonak Marvels and have been told that they are the best (and indeed I do like them), but I feel a bit like they are “selling” each time I come in. This last time I was provided with a contract indicating the price I was to pay, also showing a 3 year warranty. But I had spoken with someone else before who told me I would have a 4 year warranty. When I mentioned that, it was quickly changed. A few other issues were also changed when I brought them up, which makes me go hmmmmmm. I didn’t sign the contract, but probably will do so this week when I return. But in the meantime, I’m thinking about the terms I want in advance. Yes, it’s a bit like a car dealership.

2 Likes

#8

So, I’ll say upfront that I’m a soft-sell who doesn’t work on commission and is very happy to refit old hearing aids. But,

While I agree that this should have been disclosed upfront, I don’t think the fees are unreasonable. Audiologists aren’t employed by the manufacturers to provide tech support for their devices. It just seems that way sometimes.

3 Likes

#9

@Neville, I think you are the exception to an audi “car dealership.” And I wish I could find someone here like you. :wink:

5 Likes

#10

Well, but i’m not an owner. It’s probably easy for me to sit on my high horse when I don’t actually have to make any decisions about what has to happen financially to keep the clinic open. :wink:

But I do get frustrated when patients tell me what they spend on naturopathy and chiropractics and then balk at a $200 fitting fee.

4 Likes

#11

Neville, you are a Dinosaur in the profession. Full disclosure is a Must but rarely adhered to. After going to 3 private HA dealers I decided on Costco. That was 8 years ago, I have not been disappointed yet. I’m now waiting for the KS9 to be released soon. Free domes, filters & the plastic retainers, except batteries and batteries are .017cents each. Oh, I get adjustments almost anytime I wish.
I agree that dealing with Audi’s is close to dealing with car dealers. Seniors are prey to the predators.

2 Likes

#12

A dinosaur how? That I think a fitting fee is reasonable for a trial? We don’t actually charge one, but ideologically I think it’s wild that people don’t expect it. The weirdest thing is that people quite happily pay to talk to me for an hour, but as soon as a device is involved a charge becomes outrageous. Money is strange generally, though. I’d rather live in a Star Trek-y world were I didn’t need it and could work for free.

I’m a baby in the profession, in fact. I only graduated a handful of years ago.

1 Like

#13

So bluntly can I ask how audiologists make living? Where does the price of HA go? Why do audiologist not charge for adjustment of the HA I haven’t bought from her? It is completely mystery to me…

0 Likes

#14

In bundled models, the services are rolled into the cost of the hearing aids. Depending on where you are, you may or may not be able to find someone who unbundles or partially unbundles their services. In bundled models you could estimate that ~1/4 to 1/2 of the cost, depending on the hearing aid, are service fees.

Perhaps she’s hoping that you will buy your next set from her? Our clinic charges for adjustments for outside patients, but we are busy.

1 Like

#15

I agree with you that if disclosed up front, the deductibles would be reasonable as they are apparantly charged by Phonak even though they call it a courtesy replacement and disclaim its a warranty in their literature. When checking with other audi shops in town I found that many gross up the charge to $450 or more.
The fitting fee is crap. A free trial is a free trial. Again the other audis all appear to similarly charge if asked directly so again mine isnt bad.

I was surprised as to how the offerings vary audi to audi. Some only offer only a two year courtesy return period vs three. Some free supplies for life, some for three years, some one.

On balance, mine is probably “Not the best but better than the rest”

0 Likes

#16

Phonak charges some clinics that fee and not others, depending on how much Phonak likes them (i.e. how much Phonak they sell).

I agree with you in terms of the positioning. If it is not a free trial, it shouldn’t be called a free trial. And it’s sneaky tactics to get someone in and then surprise them with a charge that wasn’t disclosed in advance.

0 Likes

#17

Thank you for explaining this. Now I understand, but am not sure whom I should go to.
I used to go to a local audiologist who works for ENT but am now thinking to go to an audiologist who runs her own clinic. It is such a struggle to find the audiologist who can do good fitting for me.

0 Likes

#18

Your not imaginging this it is true , do not settle find the right audiologist for you …

1 Like

#19

This is why I self program and buy my hearing aids gray market. The only thing I use the audiologist for is the hearing test.

1 Like

#20

Guess I have lucked out. Bought my last car at a place that has no hassle, matched fair price in one shot. Super service. Same situation with audiologist. Bent over backward to help me. Texted me to see if adjustments working out. Fair price. No monkey business. Has a price schedule of services after initial year with unlimited visits. Maybe the fact that she wears HAs helps.
This is why I drive 90 min to see her. Another place wanted $400 to adjust my old ones. Had a new audiogram from ENT but they didn’t carry the brand I had purchased where we used to live. Just needed a tweak. Found another place that did it for $75.

2 Likes