Pros & Cons Of Costco Hearing Aids

Dr. Cliff Olson
March 20, 2018
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Pros & Cons Of Costco Hearing Aids

Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and Founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Arizona, discusses the Pros and Cons of purchasing hearing aids from a Costco.

TVs and computers are not the only types of technology one can find at Costco. Many Costco centers around the country sell quality hearing aids at affordable prices. In fact, hearing aids are the company’s second largest money maker behind wine. Before you grab your membership card and rush out to your nearest Costco to purchase hearing devices, it is important to first understand the pros and cons of Costco hearing aids.

Pros of Costco Hearing Aids

Costco is one of the single largest purchasers of hearing aids in the entire industry. Because they purchase such a huge quantity of hearing aids from manufacturers, they are able to drive the prices down significantly, and then pass those savings along to their members.

Kirkland brand premium hearing aids are good quality hearing devices that will cost you about $1600 per pair, which is about half the price you can expect to pay for name-brand hearing aids you can also purchase at Costco such as Rexton, Phonak or ReSound.

Costco hearing aids are made by reputable manufacturers, and the quality is pretty good. When reviewing feature comparison charts, you can see that premium Kirkland hearing aid technology is quite comparable to the technology found in other premium aids.

Hearing Healthcare Professionals (at select locations)
Some Costco centers choose to hire certified hearing healthcare professionals such as audiologists or hearing instrument specialists. Having your hearing aid fitted and programmed by a skilled professional is imperative to having them work well for you. In fact, getting appropriate fittings from professionals who use real ear measures is more important than the actual hearing aid or its features.

If you choose to purchase hearing aids from Costco, please ensure you choose a location that hires a hearing healthcare professional!

Cons of Costco Hearing Aids

Low Number of Repeat Customers
Independent and credible industry sources report that only about 20-25% of first-time hearing aid users purchase a second set of hearing aids from Costco. This means that about 75-80% of first-time users either decide to quit using hearing aids or purchase them elsewhere. This could be explained one of two ways. Either most Costco locations are not using best practices such as real ear measures, or they are not offering a very positive patient experience. Either way, a return customer rate this low definitely triggers a red flag.

Some Aids are Locked
Some of the hearing aids sold by Costco are “locked”. A locked hearing aid prevents the wearer from taking the hearing aids anywhere other than Costco for adjustments, fittings, or repair. If you move to a new city that does not have a Costco or you find you want to look into other clinics for any reason, you will not be able to do so with a pair of hearing aids that have been locked by Costco.

Hearing Aids are De-Featured
While feature comparisons between Costco hearing aids and those purchased in audiology clinics are similar, some of Costco hearing aids may be de-featured. Representatives from manufacturers have disclosed that the hearing aids they sell to Costco have had some of their advanced features removed. If you struggle in some environments with your Costco hearing aids, the issue may not be with you. It may be that your hearing aids are missing the feature that would best help you in that particular situation.

Long Wait Times
Some Costco customers have reported very long wait times for an appointment to get hearing aids in some areas. We often have patients come to our clinic who decided against Costco hearing aids because they did not want to wait a month or more for their devices. These customers are also nervous that if something ever goes wrong with their aids, there might be another long wait time before they can get into a Costco to get their issue resolved.

Costco sells quality hearing aids at affordable prices; however, it is not right for everyone. Once you understand the pros and cons of purchasing your hearing aids through a big box retailer such as Costco, you can make an informed decision on whether or not it is right for you.

Video Transcript

Costco is one of the largest purchasers in the hearing aid industry.  This gives them incredible buying power and this drives down the cost of devices for their members.  They are also the 2nd largest money makers for the Big Box store behind only Wine.

Lets take a look at the Pros and Cons of buying your next set of hearing aids from a Big Box retailer. Let's start with the Pros:

Pro #1. Their hearing aids are CHEAP.  Not cheap as in bad, cheap as in low cost.  A pair of Premium Kirkland Signature 8.0 devices are only $1,600.

Pro #2. The hearing aids are Good.  The top tiers of devices are comparable to top tier name brand devices.  In fact, all of the hearing aids are either name brand, or re-branded from a name brand manufacturer.Pro #3. Some Costcos have experienced Audiologists and Hearing Instrument specialists.  The hearing care professional you work with is even more important than the devices you buy.  You just have to find a Costco that has a phenomenal hearing care provider.Now on to the Cons:

Con #1. Only 20-25% of patients return to Costco for a second set of hearing aids.  Obviously, this is on average.  I suspect that Costcos with terrific hearing care providers have a much higher rate.  The only possible excuses for these low numbers are either they are not performing best practices like Real Ear Measures, or they are not providing a good patient experience (ie. Customer Service)

Con #2.  Some hearing aids they sell are LOCKED!  Watch out for locked hearing aids.  They lock them to prevent you from getting them serviced from other hearing care providers.  You must go to a Costco no matter what.  

Con #3.  The hearing aids are De-Featured.  Despite the hearing aids still being good, manufacturers do remove features from the devices they sell to Costco.  If you aren't hearing well with Costco hearing aids, it may not be you, it may be the devices.

Con #4.  Long Wait times.  I have had patients mention that wait times to get hearing aids from Costco have been up to 30 days to even be seen by the provider.  There are also concerns that if you do purchase hearing aids from Costco that you will have to wait too long for service if the hearing aids need to be repaired or re-programmed.  Overall, Costco is known for providing good hearing aids at very low prices.  

Some people receive excellent benefits from Costco hearing aids as long as the hearing care provider they see is top notch.  As long as you are aware of the Pros and Cons of going to Costco for your hearing healthcare, then you should be able to make an educated decision on what is right for you.

Dr. Cliff Olson
Audiologist & YouTuber

Dr. Cliff is an unwavering supporter of Hearing Aid Best Practices and advocate for individuals with hearing loss, which inspired him to develop the Dr. Cliff Approved Provider Network.

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Dr. Cliff Olson

Audiologist & YouTuber