Wal-Mart sells hearing aids

Hey all,

I was at Wal-Mart the other day to get some stuff for my new apartment. Now I don’t normally go to Wal-Mart so I may just be way behind or something but there was a hearing aid dispensary there. It was closed but from the looks of it was very basic. I am not even sure if they do hearing tests there or not, the only advertisement I saw outside of it was a complimentary self-test…which could really mean many things. I kind of scared me that Wal-Mart is selling hearing aids now too! Geez, next thing you know they will have doctors and dentists stationed in there too, then an apartment complex with direct access and you will never need to see the outside world again…ever…it is scary stuff!

Found this on them…

An Audiology Online article, http://www.audiologyonline.com/news/news_detail.asp?news_id=3101, a link to the store website, http://www.hearatlast.com/, and below…

HearAtlast the Hearing Store, is the first Canadian hearing aid dispensary to offer consumers and those 3.1 million that are hearing impaired, affordable custom fit digital hearing aids, hearing protection and ALD’s in about an hour. Licensed professionals provide convenient hours of operation and locations to satisfy this ever growing epidemic. The HearAtlast stores offer a full range of affordable hearing instruments, including the Sono3TM hearing aid as well as Sonomax’s flagship hearing protection devices, Bluetooth® products and SonoPassTM software. At the HearAtlast stores, products range from $397-$1297; with the Sono3TM around the mid-range, and most products are subsidized by provincial programs, making the consumer’s out-of-pocket expense relatively low when compared to the cost of comparable conventional hearing aids. People purchasing the Sono3TM at HearAtlast will be able to experience “the shoppers experience,”- they will be able to go shopping at Wal-Mart® and return home with an affordable, custom-fit, comfortable, state-of-the-art, digital hearing aid, that was fitted and programmed in about an hour. HearAtlast is managed by Dr. Randy Lacey President and COO, along with Mr. Robert J Oswald President and a well versed Board of Directors.

If this company is succeeding, then all I can say is the customers are not aware of what they are missing. Fitting done in an hour…including custom molds no doubt.

I have a feeling…and I am hoping…that this claim for custom products in one hour is only inclusive of open-fit devices. I don’t think it is possible to do a test, a fitting, and make a custom product in an hour. I actually can confidently say it isn’t…unless the custom mould were to be made out of play dough!

Why not? Many stores (e.g., Lenscrafters) do custom eyeglasses in one hour… :cool:

However, I agree that the open fit units are probably the most practical to fit quickly, and those with mild to moderate hearing loss are the ones most likely to require less personal attention.

Hi Jchunter,

Can you go into more detail on that. This wasn’t the case with my fitting. Although my first fitting took probably little more than an hour including the hearing test, I needed many more fittings after that.

What aids did you get and how many fittings did it take to get you where you were happy?

Thank you,
Mike

Just scaning this forum leads me to theorize that those with severe or profound hearing loss are generally less satisfied with their aids and require more adjustments. However, proof requires a study involving a large statistical sample, which I have not yet found.

In my case (mild to moderate loss) with a Costco trial, I found the open fit earpiece very comfortable right away and I could immediately hear the improved clarity of higher pitched voices with the initial program. Background noise cancellation worked well right away.

However, I haven’t yet decided to buy these because (1) They are still too expensive ($1400 ea), (2) I can’t adjust them myself and therefore must make an appointment to have the Costco audi do it, every time, and (3) with mild loss, I can also improve my hearing with simple amplification.

Cool. You must have linear hearing loss across all frequencies. Unfortunately, I have the classic ski slope loss and the amplification required to give me hearing in the high frequencies would would make the lower freguencies unbearable.

I am very interested to know what you are using for simple amplification.

Thank you,
Mike

My loss is mostly above 1500Hz and increases to about 50dB at 4KHz. However, I can hear words much more accurately on TV thru cordless headphones, driven by a stereo amplifier, with simple treble boost. If the bass gets too loud I just turn it down with the bass control. I know that I am not fully compensating for my high frequency loss but the results are significant.

I would like to experiment with a pocket sized amplifier with a simple equalizer thru earbuds but have not yet found the right product.

However, over the next few years, I fully expect to see significant price cuts on good quality digital hearing aids, available thru high volume distributors such as Walmart, Costco, and the Internet. Drugstore chains could also jump into this business.
Edit: Here is an excellent market report and future projection of the hearing aid market http://www.hearingcentral.com/HearingAidOpportunities.ppt

i seen this done in china a while ago… 1 hr or free HI… even with
custom aids…

How well did that work???

I don’t think it is the type or severity of your loss that dictates your satisfaction with hearing instruments but rather the way in which you perceive sound. Although I have always had a significant hearing loss, previous to ending up where I am now (105-120 up to 1000Hz with no response beyond that) I was a very well trained musician. My ears are highly trained not only to pick up the subtleties of sound, but I have perfect pitch as well. My audiologist has said that my extreme sensitivity to changes to my aids, and my ability to pick up on even the most minute of problems with the sound can be attributed to that. Profound loss or not my ears are trained to hear things a certain way and that is the way they want to hear it. I think I was more picky about my programming before when I had more hearing. I think my audiologist would agree too.

I buy my glasses at Wal-Mart and I’m happy with them. If they started selling quality hearing aids I might consider buying from them. Of course what I would consider as “quality” is last years models from the major brands. Sort of like Costco with their rebranded Siemans aids.

I also wouldn’t want stripped down models, I like some of the bells and whistles of the high end aids. I like my Phonak Audeo’s, but would like to be able to use the Icom for stereo playback of my Ipod.

I won’t need to buy hearing aids for another 5 or 6 years (I hope). I do know the next aids I buy will come with the ability to program them myself.

Mike

program youself. I doubt Siemens.-Oticon-widex - phonakor starkey will go that way. The concept might be good but they have decided to ban internet sales…

LOL! They might as well try to ban computers and the 21st Century… :smiley:

all those companies has been explicit about not
selling through the internet. It seems they are afraid
that their traditional channels would stop ordering from them… Perhaps they might change their mind sometimes…

Of course, the logical result of their decision is to doom themselves to a much lower sales volume than would be possible if they used their brains, instead, to figure out how to utilize computers and the internet to remotely fit and adjust hearing aids. :rolleyes: Phonak, et al, are so firmly wedded to direct marketing that they cannot imagine it being done any differently.

However, I am not at all surprised at their decision. I have experienced, first hand, companies that prefered to go out of business rather than change their behavior. :eek:

Forces like Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, AmericaHears, etc. are all good signs that disintermediation has already started in the hearing aid industry, which will make it easier, faster, cheaper for deaf people to hear again. :cool:

But not necessarily better service. I appreciate the time and service my fitter gives me. In fact his prices are much lower than what I’ve seen quoted on here.

I agree, it is like going to TopCuts (or some other hair salon chain). You can get a haircut for $10 and it probably won’t take that long. You don’t need an appointment you can just walk in, and it may be more convenient but chance of you ending up with a great haircut is pretty slim. Or you can go to a nicer salon where you call and book an appointment, pay a little more, spend a bit more time there but in the end the haircut is better and worth the extra time and money.

Now there will always be the people who go to TopCuts, but there will also always be people who are willing to spend the extra money and time to go to a higher end salon.

Same is true of the convenient hearing aid dispensers that cost less and the places that take a little more time and money.