Buyer Beware-Where to Buy
The biggest factor when considering a purchase through a franchise or private label is that you will typically pay a lot more for the same hearing aid. Because the names have been changed, you don’t even know what level or age of technology you are getting. I have many patients who have basic or mid-level technology, but paid premium level pricing. The reason you pay more is for branding and marketing; franchises spend millions on advertising just in the Upstate.
Another point to consider is that the parent companies typically do not give their newest technology to the re-branded label immediately. When GN ReSound or Signia (formally Siemens) develops a new model, Miracle Ear and Beltone normally won’t be able to sell that technology until later down the road. Why go this route when Sound Hearing Care can offer straight from the manufacturer and give you the latest technology?
When you purchase in a franchise setting, it’s typically all about the sale, not your hearing needs. See pic for a job posting in a recent Hearing Journal. We at Sound Hearing Care focus on superior hearing, not selling. When you offer a great product and good customer service, high pressure sales tactics are eliminated.
What’s a Re-branded Hearing Aid?
The “private labels” out there make it hard for a patient to do an apple to apples comparison, since the name of the hearing instrument is changed. 5 major manufacturers make most hearing aids on the market. Re-branded versions are sold through franchises and are called something different like Miracle Ear or Beltone. The problem with buying this route is that you become tied to that office or franchise for the life of the hearing aid. You lose the flexibility to use another local professional (For example: relocation, you aren’t satisfied, or the office closes). They are by all means reputable hearing aid brands, but proprietary private labels can only be purchased, programmed and repaired by the offices that sell them.Some private and/or franchise labels are: Kirkland, Accuquest, Avada, Miracle Ear, NuEar, Beltone, Audibel, etc…
- What is a franchise/private label hearing aid you may ask?
- Do you want to be limited on just one brand they carry?
- Do you want to be forced to pay their service and repair rates?
Sound Hearing Care only sells the brands from the original manufacturer. This means that we are not beholden to any one hearing aid manufacturer, which gives you the consumer a wider choice of options, to better fit your specific hearing needs.
Check out this link for further information on re-branding and private labels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle-Ear
Big Box Stores
Yes, they tend to be less expensive, but there are trade offs and typically it is service and the technology. The lines typically sold at big boxes are economy lines and private labels, and can tend to be 3 to 5 year old technology. The newest technology and higher quality lines of hearing aids just aren’t available there and the manufacturers will not work with warehouses, that’s why the cost is less. If you want a higher level of service, better technology and the skills of highly knowledgeable professionals, you should seek out a private practice with brands such as Widex or Oticon, plus have years of programming experience.
“It is our belief that we sell better hearing, not hearing aids, and we know that supporting hearing aid distribution through big box retail is a path toward the further commodification of hearing aids. This commodification is not the right direction for our industry, and most importantly, is not beneficial for those we serve.” Brandon L. Sawalich, Senior Vice President, Starkey Hearing Technologies.
We at Sound Hearing Care completely agree!
What about programming, how good are the franchises?
Visit one of Sound Hearing Care’s 4 convenient locations in Simpsonville, Powdersville, Travelers Rest or Greer/Pelham Rd area to find a more economical route to better hearing. Click below to schedule your hearing evaluation today.