How You Can Be An Educated Hearing Aid Consumer
In today’s society we all need to be our own advocates because, unfortunately, we live in an age where we are continually bombarded by exaggeration, half truth’s, incompetence and/or flat out lies.
It appears that CEOs, CFOs, accounting firms, politicians, bankers, stock brokers, jello pitchmen/model/television father personalities, athletes, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies and even religious leaders, grow “Pinocchio’s noses” on the front pages of the world’s press.
The Hearing aid business is a business; have no illusions about that. This business is populated by people, regardless of academic and/or professional credentials, who have a profit motive to sway you one way or another. Some hearing aid manufacturers actively try to fix the retail selling price of their hearing aids by not supplying some, or all of their products, to dispensers (sellers) who discount. These companies have a vested interest in maintaining an unrealistic retail pricing structure to the hearing impaired consumer because they feel that if their products are discounted to the consumer, then they will have to lower the selling price to the seller, therefore cutting the high profit margins they are making at the wholesale level. This competition inhibiting practice is not unlike companies who refused to sell to Walmart, Wholesale Warehouse Clubs, Home Depot/Lowe’s, Dollar Stores or any other business that has championed value pricing to consumers.
90% of the worldwide production of hearing aids is controlled by 6 multi-national hearing aid conglomerates who market their hearing aids under 20 different brand names. These six companies are Siemens, Oticon, Starkey, Widex, Resound and Phonak. Each of these manufacturers purchase microphones, receivers, circuits and volume controls from the same component suppliers and each of them produce quality products from those components and/or from their own proprietary digital circuits. While some of these products have more features than others, the actual discernible listening/understanding benefits of these products are essentially the same. There is very little difference, if any, in hearing aids today because of the computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing/production process. In addition, if one manufacturer comes out with a new feature, all the other hearing air manufacturing companies introduce the same feature under a different name within six months. The hearing aid industry is like many other industries where everyone copies what everyone else is doing – e.g. automobiles, airlines, computers, cell phones, calling plans, health insurance companies. etc.
Hearing aids are being manufactured today with surplus complexity. Surplus Complexity is when companies bundle too many functions into a single product in hope of widening their market share and as a way to raise the retail selling price. The more complex the product, the more expensive (the more they can charge) for it. Hearing aid manufacturers make more profit from more expensive products. The people who dispense or sell hearing aids make more profit from the expensive products while you pay more because the consumer is told they need every “bell and whistle” that is available, whether it is needed or you will benefit from those features or not.
You should choose hearing aids that best compliment your lifestyle and budget. The only real difference in hearing aids is how they are marketed by manufacturers to hearing aid dispensers (sellers) and by the hearing aid seller to consumers. I am sure that when you know how to compare apples to apples, you will not trust your hearing health care to anyone but VALUE HEARING CARE.
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