CHOICE membership

Hearing Aid Purchases, Services & Hearing Aid Batteries

I have been wearing hearing aids since nearly 20 years and am intrigued by the closed shop attitude of the providers in Australia. The hearing aids are getting more and more sophisticated and expensive, however I cannot see why a good pair of BTE (behind the ear) aids cost $10,000 here and only 1/3 of that in e.g. United States from a licensed provider. Please note that this price is for exactly the same brand and model h/aids including warranty and service. US providers freely offer their products, services and prices on the internet whilst we are treated like the proverbial mushrooms by our Australian providers. I am about due for another pair and would gladly buy local. Could Choice possibly have a look at these practices here in Australia?

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If you are near a Costco, go there. The membership is $60 p.a. Costco has full service audiology departments and their service has been tops.

My hearing aides were about 1/3 the price that local independent audiologists demanded. They have a good range although not the top of the top of the state of the art but just below it (eg last years top model), down to fairly basic. A pair of high end BTE devices will be around $AUD2-3,000, product dependent.

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Thanks for the request @dieterfb, I’ll pass it on to our product testing team.

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Jeb
I was born deaf and never wore hearing aids until I was 14. I got my first aid (at 9 or so), it was a heavy thing and useless. Next aid, at 14) was all in-the-ear mould, long wire attached to an aid that clipped to the pocket of my school skirt. The biggest problem with this type was the constant "shushing"sound made when I walked or played sport.

Then the all in-the-ear aid arrived and that was okay until I moved to the tropics, and with the humidity
I needed to put the aid into a dehumidifier box, something you had to keep an eye on, plus I found one ear gave me trouble with moisture…another thing to keep an eye on.

I concur that hearing aids in Australia are far too expensive. What I have learnt is take yourself on an overseas trip… I have found out from my Dr (who also wears aids) that it was cheaper for him to purchase new ones in France!!! , and when I made a trip to Thailand it would have been worth my while to purchase new ones there (which I did’nt because of the after care issues).

We are not treated fairly by the industry in Australia…the businesses figure its a sure fire way to make money.

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Thanks @PhilT, unfortunately there’s no Costco in WA and so I am somewhat hamstrung with your suggestion. But I am sure that some other members can benefit and even I might contemplate a flight to the nearest Costco shop in Adelaide. It might be worthwhile to check out their range and if they stock what we are after. Thanks again.

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Hi @nehenrah, thanks very much for your reply. It shows that I am not the only one who is frustrated with the h/aid industry here in Australia. My last set I bought online in US and had to send it back a couple of times for adjustments under warranty. All went well until Australia Post stopped accepting items with batteries in it (h/aid TV transmitter and receiver of which the batteries can’t be removed and I had all sorts of problems with other postal carriers. Your are right all these thoughts of buying overseas would be eliminated if we had an open and competitive local h/aid market.Let’s wait and see if someone else had some positive encounters (e.g. see previous reply by @PhilT) or maybe Choice sheds a light on it one day.
Thanks again.

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Hubby had a new pair of hearing aids just 12 months ago, and he is lucky if he can get a month out of them without having to return them to the maker for repair, and/or adjustment. Now the practice wants him to buy a “magic” pen, for over $1000, to ensure that the aids work properly!! He is returning tomorrow to insist on better service and better aids! Will be interesting.

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Hi Dieterfb,
Australia has its own hearing aid manufacturer and supplier - Blamey-Saunders. THeir aids are very high quality, and use excellent technology, developed in Australia. They are based in Melbourne and have a clinic in Sydney and also sell on-line. You can do their hearing test on line or send them a copy of your audiogram done by a local audiologist and will set up your hearing aids based on that information. As part of their deal they also provide equipment and an app so that you can adjust your aids yourself. Their hearing aids are much cheaper than overseas brands. Last November I bought a pair of their top-of-the-range aids for just over $4000 and found they were vastly superior to the $4000 pair of overseas aids that I had been wearing for 4 years.
Their website gives you full details. I found them very helpful when I contacted them.
https://www.blameysaunders.com.au/

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I am in the same situation. Got a quote for $ 10,200 for a pair of Resound hearing aids locally. Ended up buying exactly the same model brand new from a professional in the UK, programmed to my audiogram for $ 960.00.
If you buy in Australia, you are paying way too much. At this rate I don’t need a warranty or “servicing”, but I could afford to throw them away every year and buy new ones. ( My Resound pair is 5 years old and still works perfectly!)

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A couple of years ago I read an article about some hearing aids developed by the same company that developed the “bionic ear”. The article indicated that they were a significant breakthrough and were programmed by the user, cutting out the audiologist.

Then the information just disappeared, and I haven’t been able to find any reference to them since. Does anyone know anything about them?

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g’day @ashleigh.murch, thanks for your post. I visited the Blamey Saunders website but found that similar to the previously suggested offer from Costco the available range of h/aids is pretty limited. However, I do believe that these suggestions could be very beneficial for folks that are in the beginning of their h/aid life when one needs to get used to wearing the aids in the first place and also to find out how they actually work. I e.g. used to work in hot mining conditions when I started out with suggested completely in the ear h/aids and similar to @nehenrah I needed humidifiers to get the moisture out. After numerous, sometimes by-monthly visits over the years my h/aid professionals finally advised me accordingly about 3 years later!! Note that a return trip was about 300km. I now feel that I am better off to purchase oversees and make use of the 1 year international warranty.

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Hi @erwinhecht, I totally agree with you. Once you are a confident enough h/aid user then you can take the big step and buy oversees. Unfortunately I am not able to put figures to the local price for the actual hearing aids and service. The Australian h/aid professionals claim that the required ‘service’ part of the deal brings the prices to what they are here. But how then can licensed h/aid providers in US e.g. sell exactly the same incl service and 3 year US warranty for 1/3 of the prices we get charged here?

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This would be a great expose for Choice to do.
I am new to hearing aids and was originally naive enough to think I could just go to my local hearing centre. When I found the price somewhat exorbitant I started looking further and found price fixing, collusion, and sales tactics more associated with used cars. I was able to purchase a $6000 pair for only $3000 after shopping around and asking for better deals. I have since talked to people who have left the industry due to the lack of ethics of many of the manufacturers and suppliers. They do not see this as providing an essential health service but as a high profit earner. I have also been told that many of the hearing aids come with all of the top end hardware already installed and paying extra for the best model is merely getting the features turned on in software.

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If that particularly bothers you, it is the same with many computer controlled device lines having multiple models. It is not cost effective to make and support different “back ends” or unique hardware for every product so the “guts” of products are very often the same with the firmware settings (enabling/disabling things) being the difference. Admittedly sometimes a chip will be omitted when its function is not enabled (eg an NFC in a mobile) to minimise manufacturing cost, but.

Last comment is that “merely…software” can be pretty hard to get right so the cost of developing it re selling prices should not be summarily dismissed as invalid.

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Costco are also fantastic for spectacles. I’m not a member at present but when we were my husband and I were thrilled with the low price and the excellent service. I’m having cataract surgery soon and will new glasses. Guess who’ll be joining Costco again?
I’m also going to ask if I can have my late husband’s expensive hearing aids adjusted to suit me. I’m slightly deaf in one ear.
Has anyone had that done?

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Hearing aids adjusted? Yes I use a pair of my Aunt’s I just needed the audio responses adjusted to my Audiogram and new ear moulds made. It was quite easy.

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Wow. Thanks so much. Could you tell me where you had them adjusted please.
I’m in Canberra.

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Australian Hearing :slight_smile:

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It’s the same story with CPAP machines for those who have sleep apnoea - machines there are about one third the price of the exact same machine in Australia. And some of those machines are made in Australia!!

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My husband and I have both been using Blamey Saunders hearing aids for about 3 years and are very happy with them. We recently decided it was time to check that they were still adjusted correctly for our aging ears, and their service representative patiently talked us through the on line testing process and helped us to adjust them. We couldn’t be more satisfied with both the product and the service, and the added bonus is that all our money stays in Australia.

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