Thank you for publishing the excellent article, “The Costco Effect” (December 2017 Hearing Review) by Leslie Lee, Ron Barrett, and J. Connon Samuel.1 It was refreshing to see the application of data and analysis to Costco’s impact on the hearing aid market rather than hyperbole.
We would, however, like to draw your attention to one point. The authors reference “the entry-level hearing aids Costco dispenses.” We take issue with this characterization. First, we are not sure what an “entry-level” hearing aid even is. We assume it is intended to mean “economy-level” hearing aids as used in your surveys.2 Costco’s line-up does not fit within “entry” or “economy-level” categories. Rather, we sell premium hearing aids at an economy price. Our current hearing aid lineup includes:
- Legato (Rexton)
- Brio 3 (Phonak)
- Forte (ReSound)
- Zerena 9 and Juna 9 (Bernafon)
- Kirkland Signature 8.0 RIC (Rexton)
The specifications are available by clicking on the product links above, and we believe it is without question that they are premium devices.
—M. Christian Anthis, Costco, Issaquah, Wash
- Lee L, Barrett R, Samuel JC. The Costco effect. Hearing Review. 2017;24(12):14-19.
- Strom KE. HR 2013 dispenser survey: Dispensing in the age of internet and big box retailers. Hearing Review. 2014;21(4):22-28.
I have been using Kirkland Signature™ 8.0 Premium for four days. This is my first experience with hearing aids and it has been very positive.
The Costco tech took her time testing and explaining the process to me. After getting to know my expectations she recommended this model. Five stars for Angela!
Restaurants and group situations with background noises are easily handled with this hearing aid.
The iPhone Bluetooth connectivity takes it to a new level. Take a phone call or listen to music, these are a big bonus.
The app gives many options to adjust to various situations but are tweaks rather than a necessity. Volume and tone controls too.
It is barely noticable and should take a lot of the “stigma”out of wearing HA’s.
Full of features and performance, the Kirkland Signature™ 8.0 Premium feels like a high end product.
I cannot understand why COSTCO would sell me hearing aids designed to work with an i-phone…without checking to see if I have an i-phone. I do not. After they arrived she said “Let me soo your phone…Oh…..it’s not an I-phone) I never got a satisfactory explanation. I had to buy a remote to work with them.
As I understand it Apple patented using bluetooth in a simplex rather than duplex mode meaning that instead of the BT radio having to work as both a transmitter and receiver it only has to listen as a receiver. This uses less energy so the battery lasts longer. It is not a technology problem it is a legal matter. Thank Apple for this little gem.
What are the advantages of Kirkland 8.0 vs 5.0
I replaced my Kirkland Signature 5’s with Kirkland Signature 8’s a year ago. My hearing is just a tiny bit better with the Signature 8’s. The 8’s are many times better with cell phone calls if you have an Apple phone because the sound is transmitted to the hearing aids through Bluetooth. Without this feature I would have stayed with the 5’s.
I thank every one for there input and my question of REM fitting was answered . The only prices i read were either 1600.00 or 2500’00 are there in between price points ? or for that matter higher or lower prices.
i have a hearing exam at Costco this Saturday Dec 1. I saw the advertisement on the KS 8.
anything special tha i should look for?
Is there a money back guarantee period ?
Currently on my third pair of HAs, which are 6yo. Have moderate loss and am 82 yo. Went to my Shelby Twp. MI Costco appointment yesterday and had the most thorough hearing test ever, preceded by filling out a 4-page questionnaire. The HA specialist, Michael, was very, very informative and helpful. I decided on the latest tech of my current Resound brand, with which he concurred. I tried on a demo pair and was pleased with the improvements. My order should be here on Monday. My experience with Costco Hearing Center has been super excellent, I must say!
I purchased my hearing aids from Costco & they worked well enough. My major problem is with the customer care. I was never advised to change the part that goes in my ear. When hearing aids stopped working, I went to Costco and they wouldn’t even give me Rexton’s phone number. After much fuss, I was able to speak with someone from Reston & they replaced them and told me they were defective. I had brought them to Costco many times & was basically dismissed
Just left Costco after hearing exam. Have high freq. hearing loss. Also a bit if tinnitus. Tech recommended Resond GN. Walked around in store with this brand and did notice clearer sounds, reduced background noise. $2,500. He did not offer to let me try Kirkland Signature 8.0. My mistake not to ask to try them. Has anyone compared the two brands and what are the advantages of each? $900 is a big difference unless there is big difference in performance.
I was diagnosed with hearing loss last Wednesday at an audiologist office. This morning, I had an appointment at Costco. I felt like the Costco test was more comprehensive and was very impressed by the experience. I slightly preferred the Benafon over the Kirkland. The Kirkland devices are $900 cheaper ($1600 vs $2500). I haven’t decided if the Benafon are $900 better.
I am new to wearing hearing devices.
The VA tested me and found, that I did have hearing loss, it was not service related.
Being wary of all of the free hearing test companies I pursued aids through UTSW Medical Center, whose diagnosis concured with the VA’s findings.
They gave me a list of facilities and I chose one near me, where I purchased a pair of Oticon OPN for $4,450 + $100 Consultation Fee + $27 for my follow-up visit.
I was very disappointed in the product and in the service of the Professional.
Then while in Costco one day, I visited the Hearing Center.
The very helpful young lady at the counter informed me that I could choose any of brands Costco offers for $2,500/pair.
I took the Oticon back for a refund and ordered a Bernafon Zerna through Costco.
Although they are made by the same manufacturer, I believe the Bernafon to be superior to the Oticon as a device and feel the professionalism of the Costco employee to be superior to that of my degreed professional with the recommended audiologist.
NOTE TO COSTCO: You have done a fantastic job in training your staff at the hearing center. I will recommend you to anyone who asks.
Not my experience at all. I would not recommend a big box store for hearing help. I have been to two different Costco stores and was disappointed each time. I am back to my hearing healthcare professional that has been in business for over 30 years. Very satisfied with the service and Oticon OPN hearing aids I am now wearing.
What is REM?
REM stands for real-ear measurement. In simple terms, it is an important way to verify that the sound level at the eardrum matches the prescribed sound for the person’s individual hearing loss.
I have been wearing hearing aids since I was 16 years old. I am now 51…thats a really long time. I have had all kinds if hearing assistive devices over the years, cheap and not so cheap. I have say that with the latest set (Kirkland Signature 8.0) I am more pleased than ever at the versatiliy and technology on these little babies. The cost was a remarkable difference in comparison to some of the other brands Ive used and the quality I would call superior in many ways. These are not “entry level”. Ive had entry level. They cost less because someone finally got a clue.
I like what Robert said, though the “audiologist” defending Costco really made me laugh. Seriously, who goes to school for almost seven years (assuming minimal qualification of M.A. level) so they can perform the same job as someone with only a G.E.D.? That makes no financial sense, at the very least, especially since Costco makes it very clear they pay based on the position, not education. In Costco’s eyes, both a dispenser and an audiologist are equally qualified to fulfill the job requirements, non-medical otoscopy, non-medical / simplified hearing tests, and hearing aid fittings.
Seriously, our local Costco has a clinical audiologist who was a researcher with Cochlear (PhD, not GED!) and just wanted to give up the 24 x 7 researcher world. The others I have encountered at Costcos have all had audiology focused degrees. Perhaps you need to get out more.
The problem is not Costco. The problem is that the Manufacturers will not sell to us at the same price as to Costco. They call it Volume Pricing but the reality is that Costco doesn’t order in quantity, they order one customer at a time as everyone else does. We need to request an end to the volume pricing snow job. We can compete & live with a smaller profit margin. If the Manufacturers can make a profit selling to Costco what is the justification for higher prices to us? We do not get anything they don’t give to Costco. Costco has established the Market Price like it or not. Only the Manufacturers can provide a FAIR Market Price.
“Entry-level hearing aids” may, for many people, actually mean hearing aids that would help people with mild to moderate hearing loss (no other complications) and not reflect on price points at all.
The original article uses data that supports what we have experienced in the field while working with hearing loss support groups and hearing loss professionals — Costco has and continues to bring “hearing loss solutions” to everyday conversations between family members, and that is really good news for everyone.
The fact that 80% of folks in need of help currently navigate a hearing world without any medical treatment or technical assistance impacts all of us on so many levels that reducing this statistic should be a national priority. 48 million Americans (HLAA) suffer with hearing loss and unlike all that is rightfully done to accommodate people with vision or mobility challenges, people who can’t hear and understand clearly are left to their own solutions (and investment) when trying to communicate with others.
Imagine asking those confined to wheelchairs to carry their own portable ramps to access public buildings! (Makes no sense.) Likewise, if you look around at noisy public spaces and understand that hearing aids amplify ALL sounds, you will realize that we have an opportunity to accommodate hearing aid wearers, outside of their homes, if assistive hearing technology is in place. So far, in most parts of the US, we are sorely missing that opportunity.
For more info: http://www.hearingloss.org/content/hearing-assistive-technology
Emcom Systems – Audio Directions Division
entry level providers?
I am an Audiologist with 20 years of experience and I consider myself fortunate to fit hearing aids at Costco. Costco has rigorous testing and fitting protocols that include REM with each fitting. I know this is not the case with many private practice Audiologists.
The Costco near me does not do REM. Neither did the one where I used to live. Costco promotes from within, so the person selling you hearing aids was selling Costco pizza by the slice two months ago, or stocking toilet paper.
I’ve had Costco hearing aids for 3+ years and frequently go in for adjustments or cleaning, I have confidence in the techs there and I’m a critical cynic. They are trained, there are quite a few devices that are utilized. Maybe someone sold pizza before but wanted to improve his position and received training. There many top businessmen who started off delivering papers or even pizza.
Tells you everything you need to know, they don’t know what entry level is. They sell yesterdays premium not today’s. Horse and buggy used to be premium at one time.
This is not true. I am an Audiologist with 20 years of experience and I have the privilege of fitting hearing aids at Costco. I have actually lined up the spec sheets of what are recognized as industry standard premium hearing aids and they match Costco’s premium hearing aids that I am fortunate to sell.
Premium vs Economy: It’s the lie manufacturing has used for years. Today’s premium is tomorrow’s economy. So what is the manufacturer to do when they first sell you a wonderful product then want you to buy again in a year or two? Make a minor change and call it a break-through. That’s why we have 24 channels when 12 is more than enough. In a few years we will have 30 channels and the manufacturers will be saying all the previous models are crap.
Can Costco explain the difference in pricing between the Reston Legato Li & the Reston made Kirkland Signature as their data sheets make them seem relatively alike. There’s also an additional year warranty with the Kirkland product and not the Legato?
Also, why are Hearing Healthcare Professionals outside of Costco not permitted to service the products sold by Costco? The manufacturers will not provide outside clinics with the required software necessary, nor will they repair these products while under warranty or beyond!
We’ve had patients come to us with products they’ve purchased from Costco and whether they’ve moved too far from a Costco location, preferred our licensed Clinician or otherwise, they’re now tied to Costco for their service. This doesn’t seem a fair business practice as, (correct us if incorrect) the suppliers are not permitted to allow their non-Costco clients to service the products as per their arrangements with Costco.
Concerned for our hearing impaired.
I am a certified hearing instrument dispenser working for Costco. Prior to this I dispensed hearing instruments for another company, and was fortunate that the location was in need of a certified dispenser immediately (they usually promote and train from within by a year-long apprenticeship, and their apprentice was not working out).
I have been very impressed with Costco’s standards (including REM with every fitting–my former company did not do this) and their amazingly-low prices for premium level Hearing Instruments. All Costco’s hearing aids are now premium level instruments(no more lower-cost “advanced” level), but the manufacturer that wins the bid to be the Kirkland Signature then lowers that already low price considerably.
The KS 8 is manufactured by Rexton, and has direct to iPhone streaming capabilities. Rexton Legato LI RIC aids have the premium pricing but are rechargeable, having a completely encased lithium battery, and must be charged with a separate charger. This is a huge advancement over Rexton’s last rechargeable device (4 hr charge now lasts 24 hours). Also at this time the Legato LI RIC does not have direct iPhone streaming capability. The sound of the instruments is quite similar. So rechargeability is the difference a person would be paying for.