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Should You Buy Hearing Aids From Costco?

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This is a post about the pros and cons of buying hearing aids from Costco. I am not an audiologist nor am I a hearing aid technician; I am a professional hearing aid user, having worn them for over 35 years. This post is not sponsored in any way, shape or form.

This post is part of my “You Ask, I Answer” series, in which I answer questions you pose to me about anything disability related. If you have a question,  ask by emailing me here.

Ah, Costco!

Big Box Emporium of sometimes amazingly priced goods. Once you have entered the world of hear-ware, it’s impossible to not notice Costco’s Hearing Aid department and be lured but the sweet, strong sound of their lower-priced hearing aids.

Should you buy Costco hearing aids though? This is a question I am asked with a fair amount of regularity; so much so that a post seemed warranted.

Should you buy hearing aids from Costco?

But should you actually buy hearing aids from Costco? I think the answer depends on where you are exactly in your hearing aid journey, and the staff of your given Costco.

Let me explain.

Costco Usually Hires Hearing Aid Specialists, Not Audiologists

Hearing aid specialists are people who have trained to work with particular hearing aids.

Hearing aid specialists are not doctors, they have not attended medical school, they are not skilled with a wide range of hearing aids or hearing deficits or anything in between. By contrast, an audiologist is an actual doctor who has spent years studying the ears, vast spectrums of hearing, and also pretty much every type of hearing aid out there.

Audiologists are the experts in hearing and hearing aids; hearing aid specialists are not even necessarily experts in the hearing aids that they have specifically trained in.

Because of the importance in getting your hearing correctly assessed in the beginning and also of getting the perfect hearing aid in the beginning, I do not think you should buy hearing aids from Costco.

Key point here is: in the beginning.

I think that once you are further along in your hearing and hearing aid journey, Costco is okay. You simply do not want to go there when you yourself do not know much about hearing aids or your own hearing.

In my case, I have been wearing hearing aids for 35 years. I know my hearing chart down to the bar, and I know exactly what it all means. Having worn every major hearing aid brand made, I know what works best for my particular type of hearing (loss). I can receive a poorly made hearing aid mould from Costco and know that it’s poorly made; a first timer would not necessarily know it was poorly made and would just be stuck with something sub-standard.

You really need to know your stuff if you get your hearing aids from Costco.

Some Costco branches apparently hire audiologists.

This is important to research – my opinion is that if this is your first time hearing aid purchase, don’t even think of getting them at Costco unless you will be working with an actual audiologist. If your particular branch does feature an audiologist, make sure 100% of your assessment, selection and fitting process is handled by the audiologist (- in other words, don’t get shipped off to the “hearing aid specialist”).

Costco Hearing Aids Are Not Top of the Line

If you have complicated hearing and need digital hearing aids that require a lot of tweaking to get the setting perfect, Costco hearing aids will not be the best. They carry hearing aid models that are older. This makes sense of course, because they are significantly cheaper than standard hearing aids. I wear Phonak hearing aids right now, and since I didn’t need the most advanced model out there (- which I know because I know my hearing so well by now), Costco’s selection was sufficient for me.

I saw an audiologist right before I went to Costco for this round of hearing aids, so I know that there are hearing aids that are a more perfect fit for my hearing that what I am using from Costco. With a 2k increase in price, however, I was willing to settle with Costco.

Costco Offers Flexibility For Adjustments Later

Costco offers discounted hearing aids as well as significantly cheaper hearing aids from its Kirkland brand. For me, that was nice but the main reason I went with Costco was the ease of getting something fixed.

You see, audiologists will only work with hearing aids they sold you. If your hearing aid breaks and your audiologist has gone out of business, you are out of luck – like, you are so far out of luck that even the company that manufactured the hearing aids won’t touch them. If your hearing aid mould get hard and you need a new one made, you will be hard pressed to find another audiologist or branch that will help you.

With branches all over the place, Costco makes it easy to get small things like a new mould fixed.

Using Costco, you could ostensibly get your hearing aids in California and have them repaired in Hawaii. It really doesn’t matter; it’s all the same as far as Costco is concerned. This makes it incredibly convenient and wonderful to not have to stress out about whether or not your audiologist will retire or quit shop, leaving you stuck.

Here’s a table that outlines the pros and cons of buying hearing aids from Costco

PROS of Getting a Hearing Aid at CostcoCONS of Getting a Hearing Aid at Costco
Cheap hearing aidsRarely hire audiologists; "hearing aid technicians" are the norm
Can get hearing aids serviced at any Costco branchThey do not carry the latest and greatest hearing aids
May not have the right hearing aid for your hearing, but you won't know if you don't have an actual audiologist working with you

Gosh, that “cons of getting you hearing aid at Costco” list sure does look longer, doesn’t it?!

I don’t mean it it’s all bad though; if you are a veteran hearing aid user like I am, Costco is a solid option. I know enough to tell them when they mess up (like when they forgot to put the air vent in my hearing aid, or when the ear mould was not fitted correctly); I even know enough to show them how to fix their mistakes when they mess up.

But hey, it’s cheap and I can get their mess ups fixed in any branch!

I hope this helps in shedding some light on the affordable hearing aids that Costco offers, and in figuring out if they make sense for you.

I think if you can swing it, getting your first pair of hearing aids (or any really) is best done at a solid medical facility that has connected ENT specialists, as this is often related to hearing. Save Costco for when you really understand every part of a hearing aid, and when you know how your hearing works.

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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