Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013

Hearing Aid Reviews: Big Chain Stores

Woman hangs open sign at hearing aid store doorway.

Hearing aids are an important investment. They enable better communication and can make life easier and more enjoyable, but where you shop for your hearing aids is almost as important as what type of hearing aid your purchase. The reviews are in in and there seems to be pros and cons with buying hearing aids from big chain stores.


  • Pros: Because there are many big chain stores to choose from in a given area, it can be as easy as finding out the days the hearing aid section is open and going to the store to get an appointment.
  • Cons: Because big chain stores are balancing their time between multiple interests, they might not have a hearing aid specialist on staff or even a certified audiologist. Also when first getting hearing aids, a patient needs to see the audiologist a lot for adjustments. As noted by Katherine Bouton, in her NYT article Straining to Hear and Fend off Dementia, "Increasingly, people buy hearing aids online or from big-box stores like Costco, making it hard for the user to follow up. In the first year I had hearing aids, I saw my audiologist initially every two weeks for reprocessing and then every three months."
  • Repair:

  • Pros: Because big chain stores have shops across the country, it's easy to bring your product back to one of those stores when you are traveling. Repairs and service needed when you're on the road might be less of a hassle in this situation.
  • Cons: Service may be limited to certain days the hearing instrument section is opened and patients still have to contend with other customers. Also, if you happen to be in a place without a big chain store, you're going to have a hard time getting your hearing aid repaired.
  • As noted by a member on the Hearing Aid Forums:

    “I have a friend who got hearing aids last year at [big chain store name deleted] and .....he took his hearing aids into a clinic once when he was on vacation because they were too loud and he needed to have them turned down. There was no [chain store name deleted] in this town so he tried 2 private clinics and neither could help him because the hearing aids were locked out so no one but [the chain store name deleted] was able to adjust them! He suffered his entire vacation.
    Ted, HA Forums (JR. Member)

    This type of practice which is not locking but a specific software used only by big chain stores has been noted by other audiologists. In fact one audiologist on the same site noted, “I have had a client who bought some [brand name deleted] from [big chain store name deleted] and wanted me to adjust them. I tried my best ….but they were not compatible with my version of the software. I called [manufacturer deleted], who confirmed this was the case and they were not allowed to give me the software!”


  • Pros: Pricing for big chain stores is generally less than the prices you might be a doctor's office for a hearing aid.
  • Cons: An audiogist office tends to offer more than just a hearing aid with their price, including service, fittings, cleaning, batteries, and repairs for an extended period.


  • Pros: Big chain stores tend to make buying of hearing aid simpler, because of their limited stock. This can mean less decisions when it comes to looking at confusing features for hearing aids. Many people find they are satisfied with the limited choice and the less confusing technology options available at big chain stores.
  • Cons: In general big chain stores tend to stock hearing aids that are a few years behind the choices available at an audiologist’s office. They also offer a limited supply, but this is their business model and works well to keep down costs. This isn’t always a bad thing. However, it is something to consider if you are interested in a wider, more up-to-date variety.
  • Overall Hearing Health: It should be noted that big chain stores are not the place to go for overall hearing health. They are selling hearing aids, and that means that other hearing issues are best dealt with at your audiologist or ENT office. There are balance issues and numerous conditions that can be associated with hearing loss that are best identified and recognized by a hearing health professional, such as an audiologist or ENT.

    There are a lot of options for buying hearing aids these days, but it is clear that the pros and cons have to be weighed in order for you to make the decision that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Shopping for hearing aids can be confusing. Hearing Aid Forums offers a great place to start. Not only is it free, but it allows you to post your questions and get answer from audiologists. If you'd like to learn more about hearing loss, hearing heath, and hearing aids click HERE to DOWNLOAD our free guide to hearing health!

    This guide will teach you:
    ▪ The 3 different types of hearing loss
    ▪ How to help a loved one hear you
    ▪ 8 different hearing aid styles
    ▪ Advances in digital and wireless hearing aid technology.


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