Let's have a chat about buying a hearing aid shall we?
Please fire away with your questions:
Okay David tell me how much do they cost?
£574 - £2442. Well you did ask me! Now of course I realise that this is a huge range here; so, obviously, this accounts for the differences in the actual models. ALL my instruments are digitally programmable with varying degrees of what we call ‘artificial intelligence.’ Each model has a lesser or greater degree of this particular technology.
It's actually a little easier to explain this when we are sat down in front of my computer as I can show you the different technologies. However, I'll only do this if you are interested.
I've noticed a lot of adverts showing small instruments; are these more expensive?
Not from me. A lot of suppliers charge extra for smaller instruments even though the larger ‘in the ear’ and ‘behind the ear’ types could use the same circuit. They don't cost me any more from my manufacturer so why should I pass this on to you? I simply don't believe in this kind of activity so I don't do it.
I've also noticed numerous hearing aid suppliers not showing their prices; should I be wary?
Let's put it this way. What are they afraid of? Personally I like to have a reasonable idea of what I'm going to buy beforehand and if I go into a shop without any prices showing I'm already starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable. This is why I've answered your question right from the start.
Hearing aids can be expensive; how come?
There is a huge amount of research and development work which is massively benefiting both the hearing aid audiologist and the hard of hearing public. When I came out of training, nearly 25 years ago, (where have they gone?) my main tool was a jewellers screwdriver; that was it.
Now we've got sophisticated computer systems not only for the programming but your hearing aid also contains an incredibly powerful and flexible microchip.
Would you believe that one of the latest chips took €50 million to develop. Just imagine this for a moment; think of a square about 3mm x 2mm; not very big is it? That's about this size ▀ .This chip can contain up to 6 million transistors.
Just think back; within living memory you'll probably remember radios with valves humming away in a big wooden box, now we can put hundreds of these radios into the size of a match head.
Fair enough; is that everything?
Not quite, we need to earn a living; fair enough? I have to factor in your service arrangements for many years to come and, as you know, things like fuel are now having a serious effect on us all. Indeed, only last year I could fill the car up for £50 now it's £75. Goodness knows what it's going to be in the next few years.
You'll find that we don't charge for many of the items that will occasionally need replacing for instance; on our ‘Receiver in the Ear’ style hearing aids the speaker assembly is always replaced ‘free of charge’, together with such items as domes, battery trays, windshields, tubing and moulds. All these items will be charged out by other companies and we NEVER charge for reprogramming, unlike a lot of companies out there.
You'll also never receive a bill for a ‘home visit’ no matter how many times you need to see me.
I hope that answers this particular question. If it doesn't, let me know.
What if I can't afford one; can you still help me?
Absolutely. Apart from people's perceptions of the cosmetics of a hearing aid this is the one stumbling block for people seeking a private hearing aid. Do you agree?
This is how I overcome this; I've done it many times to help my clients out. Let's say the initial price is a little over your budget. We can decide on a deposit that you're comfortable with as there are no ‘hard and fast’ rules about this with me. So instead of working out the monthly payments based on the balance, I'll ask you what sum you feel comfortable investing on a monthly basis.
Let's take an example: say the hearing aid is £995 and you can comfortably manage a deposit of £100 leaving a balance of £895 there will be a charge of £179 (APR 9.8%) taking the outstanding balance to £1074.
Now this is the nice part; I'll ask you what you would like to pay back monthly and so for arguments sake, if you feel comfortable with £45 that will work out at 23 months i.e. 23 payments. We can always work around your finances. I very much wish you to sleep comfortably!
That is why I can truly say that no matter what your income is we'll find a way to support you.
Do your prices include VAT?
I always quote the dreaded VAT. Appalling I know but we do have HM government to support. I absolutely hate it when I'm quoted a price and the salespeople just nonchalantly add-on nearly another 20%.
Are there any "hidden charges"?
We are very transparent. No there aren't any hidden charges. Not one. Once you have paid for the hearing aid you will need to buy the batteries. They are £3 a pack (6 batteries) and are obtainable via our mail order service which is free of postage and packing. These batteries should also be available at your local chemist.
The only other area you may wish to consider will be insuring your hearing aids against loss and irreparable damage, this is normally a very simple matter of ringing up your insurance company. We always recommend this as a number of hearing aids do go ‘walkabout’ from our clients each year. Obviously this can happen to anyone of us. We have even had, on two separate occasions, our clients pet dogs taking a liking to them and ate them!
How much extra do you charge for your warranty?
Don't fall into the trap of buying extra warranties; there's a huge markup on these services. We've got a five-year unconditional warranty which is included in the price of EVERY hearing aid.
After the five-year warranty I have an arrangement with Phonak (my sole supplier) that I have a maximum charge of £120 (including VAT) NO MATTER what they repair or replace. Peace of mind is important to all of us.
Can I buy the hearing aids that you supply cheaper?
Of course you can. There's always somebody willing to sell something cheaper and there's always somebody willing to buy something cheaper thinking they're getting a ‘bargain’. These people are not in our market. We know we run a ‘bespoke’ service but predominantly, in this industry, the hearing aid dispensers’ reputation is based on honesty, client satisfaction and aftercare.
That's what separates the good, long-term ones from the indifferent, ‘here today gone tomorrow’, ones. If the margins are slashed to the minimum to increase sales; guess who and what suffers? The very thing you bought the hearing aid for... SERVICE. Fact.
So please don't be tempted by hollow and superficial ‘sales’ offers; “Cheap Hearing Aids”; “Buy One Get One Free”; “Buy Two For The Price Of One” etc…
I've seen it all before...
There's a saying that you may be familiar with: “bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
As Warren Buffett said “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
We aim to give you great value!
Hopefully I've answered all your questions on "Buying a Hearing Aid" but if I haven't please do let me know.
Hearing Instruments – The Next Generation
The Phonak Audeo YES
How your hearing works
The outer ear
The middle ear
Children and Hearing Loss
Ears, altitude and aircraft travel
A look at your inner ear
Sinusitis and other sinus problems
Ménière’s disease: A practical alternative approach
Signs and Symptoms of a Hearing Loss
Hearing Tests - Important Checklist
All about hearing aids
The cost of hearing aids
Why are two ears better than one?
How to avoid hearing aid repair