What's with the crazy hearing aid pricing differences in Costco versus chain hearing clinics?

I am currently shopping for hearing aids, and I am socked at how much hearing clinics want for their hearing aids versus what Costco charges.

I live in Canada, so you U.S. forum members keep that in mind when I mention prices quoted to me. The Canadian dollar currently is down to $0.725 US, and more typically has been running at about $0.75 US, plus or minus 2 or 3%, for the past 7 years or so. So, we Canadian expect to pay about 1/3 more in Canadian dolalrs then you U.S. buyers pay.

I got an audiogram done at a local branch of one of the largest hearing clinic chains, and it correctly verified that my hearing, which I have been tracking for years, now finally takes a serious enough dive starting at 2000 hz, reaching -70 to -75 db by 4000 hz. This has made hearing in general, and conversations particuarly, more difficult to the point that I am now having to say way too often “Sorry, what did you say?” And my wife and my adult son are both saying I need to the TV at too high a volume level for them to find comfortable.

The chain hearing clinic told me I would benefit from their “best” offering, an Oticon Real 1, with Rechargeable battery charger, 8mm open base cup, which apparently is “normally” priced at $10,250 for a pair! Their current “sale” pricing, good to end of 2023, is $7350. And, our Provincial Government here in Alberta kicks in $900 in assistance, so the pair would cost me $7350 Canadian and will include the TV optical / Bluetooth signal box (which would apparently normally cost $250 extra). And, the HAs suppsoedly have only a maximum of a 5 year life, after which no factory repairs are even available anymore! That means that the pair of Oticon Real1 HAs would cost me $7350 / 60 months = $123 per month for the next 5 years, at which point I would have to repeat the financial flogging.

A pair of Oticon Real 2 instead would cost me $6000 net, with no specific explanation on what I would be giving up versus the Real 1. Only that the Real 1 "is better’.

A pair of Oticon 3 would cost me $5550, again no explanation od specificaly what I would be giving up.

I did not ask about any ongoing maintenance, service, or repair costs, having already gone way past my financial comfort level.

This location does NOT provide an audiogram you get to take home. They only display your audiogram on a computer screen during the visit. You can apparently get a printout if you pay “an administrative charge”.

I am reading online that this is typical of chain hearing clinics. Apparently, they all use a “high value added” pricing model.

None of this left me with any good feelings.

I have read good things about Costco’s hearing aid offerings and pricing. I read that they currently offer 3 models of HA here in Canada:

  • The Jabra Enhance Pro 10 (about to be replaced by the Pro 20 which will support the new “broadcast Bluetooth” standard). I am reading in multiple places that this is either identical to, or at least almost identical to a Resound Omnia 9 series HA. It has what looks like a GREAT app that would work great with my iPhone.

  • The Philips Heartlink 9040, which is simialr to the Jabra, but whose app is not nearly as good, which is a big negative for me, as I am technical enough to always be striving for adjustability and optimization.

  • a Rexton BiCore C R-Li model that I dismissed from consideration very early because i have been told that users have reported a high number of issues with it.

The Jabra Enhance Pro 10 (or Pro 20 if available now) looks like the best of the 3 choices for me, and the Costco Canada price is $2100 Canadian. Which means that after the $900 provincial contribution, my net cost is $1200 Canadian (about $900 US). And by the way, that includes the “Premium” charger that enables 3 daily recharges when traveling.

Costco also says right on their Canadian website:

  • Costco value pricing
  • Premium technology
  • Complimentary hearing tests, follow-up appointments, hearing aid cleaning and checkups
  • Complimentary loss and damage coverage (with no deductible)
  • Complimentary warranty periods (warranty varies by model)
  • A 180-day trial period

And, the local Costco is exactly 1 kilometer from our home. And, Costco and the Jabra both support remote assistance and reprogramming as well.

And, from what I read online, apparently, “Premium technology” does mean a “premium” HA, not a middle or low range HA in the actual HA manufacturer’s line-up.

So, how can I POSSIBLY justify $7350 ($123 per month) versus $1200 ($20 per month)?

Can the Oticon Real 1 REALLY be $7350/$1200 = 6 times “better” than the Jabra Enhance Pro 10 or Pro 20? Ok, taking out the $900 “fixed” Provincial contribution, can the Oticon really be $8250 / $2100 = 4 times better??

And, while Costco charges ZERO for maintenance and service and reprogramming, I notice that the chain clinic did not volunteer any such promise.

I don’t “see” any meaningful differences in technology in the advertising for the 2 products. They use all the same phrases, and both fashionably focus a lot on reducing background noise, which is one of my major objectives, and on “narrowing” the hearing cone in a noisy environment which is another key objective.

What am I missing here that could explain the wild difference in pricing?

I’m asking because although I normally seek out “the best” or at least the “best I can afford”, the chain Clinic offering would be a financial burden for me and my wife (both retired on fixed benefits), whereas the Costco offering would be absorbable in the family budget as opposed to a financial flogging that would need repeating every 5 years.

So, again, what am I missing?

Jim G


You are missing nothing. You didn’t mention that Costco has an extended period where you can return the aids for full refund if you’re not satisfied.


Well said.
Welcome to the forum.


Not only are the Costco hearing aids the top of the line for each company, the Rexton Bi-Core is actually a rebranded Signia Pure Charge&Go AX, which is top of the line for Signia, one of the big 6 hearing aids companies and the identical hearing aid which will cost $10,000 CA at those chains you mentioned.


While you’re at it, you can wonder about the crazy difference in prices between different clinics. Like 10k AUD vs 6.5k AUD. Both vanilla audiology clinics- not Specsavers or anything else. Or the 2k AUD special “for this month only” from my local Audika. Reminder guys, you’re selling medical equipment, not bedroom suites.

The clinic that quoted me 10k, quoted that figure for all their premium aids. Really? Like the Lumity and the Real and the Omnia are all exactly the same cost to them? And if one costs them $50 less, wouldn’t that $50 be better sitting in my pocket than theirs?

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You’re not missing anything. You’re just witnessing the realization by HA mfgs that they might have found a way to get the economy of scale working for their products and be less reliant on the traditional professional audiology network that have been limiting their sales volume. And their willingness to give up on higher profit margin but shackled with lower volume sales, to trade it in for less profit margin but (hopefully) more than make up for it by much higher sales volume.

But it took a giant chain like Costco to be willing to pioneer the way to help make this happen. HA mfgs currently try to straddle on both sides of the fence, though, and are trying to make it work on both sides. HA mfgs with less resource just rebrand their models, like what Phonak did with the KS series, or Signia does it with the Rexton line. Bigger mfg with more resources like William Demant, who has 3 HA subsidiaries (Oticon, Bernafon, Sonic) and 1 licensee (Philips) does it in a more clever way, by avoiding a simple rebrand, but split one brand to Costco (used to be Bernafon, but now only Philips), while maintaining other brands like Oticon and the others to the traditional boutique retailers. That way, there is still a differentiation in the core technologies used to maintain a separation and differentiation between the 2 channels, although to be quite honest, pretty much any of their core technologies are quite competent and can do the job effectively, though. So the differentiation is really in the branding value perception, not necessarily in effectiveness of performance.

With the OTC channel now approved, and the Costco channel well underway, I think the boutique channel will not go away, but eventually they will need to make pricing adjustments to be competitive enough. Surely their will never be as low as Costco, and the HA mfgs will need to lower THEIR pricing to help those retailers, but the biggest thing is that those retailers will not be able to freely gouge the consumers as much as they want to anymore, like they have been able to do in the past. And they will have to be much more nimble and competitive with their service models to stay afloat.

I predict that now that Remote Assistance is becoming a viable technology, many may shake off their brick and mortar stores and offer online sales with Remote Assistance to shave off on their overhead costs. A brick and mortar business is just a big shackle that will weight them down financially. But the HA mfgs will have to be open to the online sales channel, though. We’ve seen it getting clamped down quite a bit by the HA mfgs by not offering legit warranties to online sales in recent years.


As a lot of the forum know on here, the biggest irony is that the Phillips Hearlink 9040 is almost virtually a rebadged Oracle Real. It is not the same hearing aid, as pointed out by @Volusiano but I think it shares the same hardware platform and whilst the algorithms are different, I think the base software architecture is generated from the same codebase, employing DNN (Deep Neural Network) algorithms for noise reduction.

Maybe an analogy is something like buying a Skoda Superb versus an Audi A6, both sold by the VW group.

Hi Jim and welcome to Hearing Tracker and the HA journey.

The $10,000/pair at a boutique/practice is covering costs for product development (platforms and algorithms) and likely also years of no cost tweaks, no cost supply of domes, wax guards, batteries, and even a no-charge replacement of lost/damaged HAs. It’s worth asking for the terms and conditions of a practice/provider because those can have a big impact on the total cost of ownership.

Whereas $2000/pr at Costco is coat-tailing on the leading edge; rebranded products made under same parent company as “premium” brands, using existing platforms and bundled with less sophisticated algorithms. This is good enough for the majority. Though does make me want to call out and question Costco using the Premium Technology. As for after sales and terms and conditions with Costco, please, someone to chime in and share those!

Another difference is trails and how they work. At my practice I could have a two week trial with any model/setup fully fitted for a fee, and the 30 day return window after purchasing. Costco has the 30 day return, not sure about pre-purchase trials. Simply walking around the warehouse isn’t a trial, more of a gimmick to make sales on the initial “Gee-whizz!” effect. I learned a lot about my needs, expecations for HA, their relative merits, correlate benefits/deficits to specifications, and how they impacted me over those pre-purchase trials.

You could also trial with Costco and boutique at the same time, an A-B comparison

I share your outlook on eye-watering prices! I also don’t think there’s a simple right and wrong with hearing aids, only what works better or lesser or you. (E.g., your -70bB over the 2k-4k octave would have alleviated some problems I had with some models I tried!) In my case I tried a few brands and went with a single side ($1500 out of pocket) over a full BiCROS setup ($5000 oop) in part for the savings but mostly for the performance that suited me more, even over more sophisticated features - including stellar speech in noise performance.

Cost is the bottom line for many. It sounds like it makes sense to start at Costco, get the hearing test, try some models to find out what meets your needs… and be ruthlessly self-centered. It’s not just hearing, they are supporting your lifestyle and activities too… so think about battery life, streaming needs, benefit in situations, IP rating, your reduction in What’s per hour, etc.


About those “less sophisticated algorithms”: I have read that the Resound and Jabra apps can be used interchangeably!

Jim G

You are seeing what I have been seeing for years.

A least some of the Medicare Advantage plans now pay out a large portion of the cost of hearing aids if you use their preferred provider here in the states. So not as bad for some us here.

That being said, the cost is still 2 to 4 times more then what Costco charges. So I went with the Philips brand a few weeks ago.

Costco’s plus side is the low cost, free hearing testing, unlimited adjustments, a 180 day trial period, free cleanings, wax guards and dome replacements at the store, a three year warranty and two year replacement warranty.

The negative sides include just three bands to choose from, don’t use degreed audiologists normally (can be a issue for those with profound hearing loss, tinnitus, other medical issue or special needs like a musician), and no local store (remote hearing adjustments can be made, but may an issue for for folks that have a hard time with technical things, including the hearing fitter at Costco).

Since you say you are like to tinker with technical things, buying a Costco hearing aid, a Noahlink wireless device, downloading the fitting software and going the DIY route may appeal to you. I believe you need a windows computer.

Note E-bay seems to be running low on Noahlink wireless devices, so move quickly.

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Costco US and Canada has 6 month return. Costco Canada Hearing Aid Info



Perhaps it should be mentioned: having a contract with the leading edge.

By and large I don’t think this is the case; for some models past and present there have been insignificant differences.

Costco has a six month return.

True! Although someone looking to replace existing HAs could do some A-B testing during the roam.


Costco, at least in US has a 180 day return period
At least on my contract they offer a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty and 3 years loss and damage.
Cleaning, dome and wax filter changes are free. Batteries are $8.29 for a pack of 48 if one has an aid with disposable batteries.


It is a two year replacement coverage on my Philips and I believe I’ve seen the same coverage with the Jabra. So things may have changed since you when there.

The warranty is still three years.

Really, not providing tinnitus treatment support is the only difference when the aids are truly rebadged. Costco just doesn’t play the tinnitus game. But the aids still have the capability if the user turns it on via DIY or another audiologist.


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That’s why I specified. My first pair had 2 year loss and replacement. I was surprised and pleased with the 3 year loss and replacement on my KS9 (bought in 2020).

To clarify, the Philips HearLink 9040 is not a rebadged Oticon Real, and anyone buying it should not be under the illusion that it is. And this is the case at the most basic level that these 2 hearing aids perform. Philips is very clear in their literature that they use directional microphones to focus on speech in front of the hearing aid wearer while noise reduction up is applied to sound from the rear and sides. Oticon is equally clear that they employ an open paradigm, giving the wearer equal access to a 360 degree surround sound soundscape. These 2 different approaches create a different listening experience for the wearer. I’m also not aware that Philips has ever made claims to employing a Deep Neural Network, AFAIK.

None of this is to knock the Philips HearLink hearing aids which have received lots of praise from those who are using them. The point is that Philips and Oticon Real are 2 different hearing aids, employing their technologies differently. This is not a statement about the quality of either. My impression is that both are of high quality.


I think there are a lot of similarities and shared tech.

It doesn’t mention DNN - but if you look at this link here it mentions AI:

You talk about the open paradigm - well - that is what is being experienced by Costco customers of the hearlink 9040. It is allowing a lot of sound through.

The point is this is essentially Oticon technology.

I don’t know about other manufacturers, but I run Phonak’s Target software through a program called Parallels on my Mac. It’s less than $100, so probably cheaper than buying a new computer just for this. Target works fine, but interestingly, I couldn’t get the Roger Upgrader to work. Had to use my husband’s PC for that one.

Yeah sometimes the firmware won’t update either, this is why it’s always best to use a windows PC if possible.