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Thinking of Buying Hearing Aids?

Check out the findings of this Which? survey of hearing aid providers.

Posted: 15th February 2016

DeafHear.ie Thinking of Buying Hearing Aids? Check out the findings of this Which? survey of hearing aid providers. 2016
 

Hearing aids can be expensive to buy, so it is useful to know what to look out for when buying hearing aids. In Ireland, medical card holders are entitled to free hearing aids from the Health Service Executive. But the majority of Ireland’s 250,000 adults with significant hearing loss must purchase their own hearing aids…

In 2014 Which?, a UK consumer champion, conducted a survey of over 400 readers who bought hearing aids from retailers in the UK. These retailers included Amplifon, Hidden Hearing and Specsavers, all of whom sell hearing aids in Ireland. The survey also included Boots Hearing Care, who don’t presently offer hearing aids for sale in the Republic of Ireland.


How customers rate private hearing aid retailers:


Brand

Products/
pricing

Staff/
service

Arrangements/
facilities

Customer score

Local Retailers

5 Star

5 Star

5 Star

84%

Boots Hearing Care

4 Star

4 Star

5 Star

79%

Amplifon

3 Star

4 Star

5 Star

69%

Specsavers Hearcare

3 Star

3 Star

3 Star

68%

Hidden Hearing

2 Star

3 Star

4 Star

62%


(The survey involved 407 Which? Connect members, and the sample was made up of: local independent retailers (80); Boots Hearing Care (109); Amplivon (31); Specsavers Hearcare (83); and Hidden Hearing (32). Customer score is a combination of satisfaction and recommendation and is not directly linked to star ratings).

 

it’s more to do with the professional fit
and service given by the provider

 

Which? Advice

Which? noted that it is crucial to choose a trusted retailer to ensure that a person optimises their chances of getting the best hearing aid solution. “The difference between a good and a bad hearing aid solution is not usually the aid itself, since most hearing aids are made by a handful of manufacturers. It’s more to do with the professional fit and service given by the provider.”

Which? comments on Amplivon

Amplivon got a rating of 69%. It scored relatively low on ‘products and pricing’, which combined ratings of hearing aids offered, the transparency of pricing, the clarity of information provided with them and the time given to decide on products.

Customer views included many reporting that they received a friendly and efficient service, with good customer care. But others complained of high prices. One person said they were quoted 2,800, but after searching the internet they found the same aids and a full package for 2,000. “When I advised Amplivon’s head office, I got a reduction of 800. Because of this I would not deal with the company again.”

Which? comments on Specsavers Hearcare

Specsavers Hearcare got a rating of 68%. They got a start rating of 3 out of 5 across all categories. Which? states that Specsavers is a major hearing aid provider in the UK, with 138 hearing centres and 586 optical stores that provide hearing – care services.

Customer views included a few that reported receiving excellent care, but it was not always consistent. One respondent reported “I have been seen by four different qualified Specsaver hearing staff. All but one have been excellent.” Customer views on Specsavers were summarised by Which? stating that ‘while no–one reported having a terrible customer journey, none were blown away by their experience.’

 

If you suspect you may have a hearing loss, don’t ignore it!

Visit: www.mindyourhearing.ie

 

Which? comments on Hidden Hearing

Hidden Hearing received the lowest customer rating in the survey of 62%. Hidden Hearing is one of the major hearing aid providers in the UK with over 80 centres. Which? noted that Hidden Hearing scored below average for its range of products and the transparency of pricing.

Customer views included many who reported that they liked the service and that they found the home–visiting service convenient. But a ‘major gripe’ was pricing and hard–selling. One respondent said “The reason I hate Hidden Hearing so badly is that they really ripped me off with the price they charged. On the internet, or from other providers, my hearing aids would have been about 895, rather than the 1,400 I paid for each of them.” Another said “my only concern is that, after two or three years, I now feel I am being pushed a bit to buy newer models. There seems to be problems getting parts for my present aids…”

Buying hearing aids in Ireland

At present there is no Standards for the dispensing of hearing aids in Ireland, so the customer has limited protection. The good news is that some key stakeholders, (HSE, Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists and DeafHear), are presently conducting a consultation on draft Standards for the dispensing of hearing aids, and hopefully these will be adopted in the near future.

DeafHear Advice

In the meantime, DeafHear’s clear advice is if you suspect you may have a hearing loss, don’t ignore it! Many people are ignoring the fact that they have acquired a hearing loss, and this is having a negative impact on their quality of life and even on the health of their brain! Don’t allow this to happen to you!

If you suspect that you may have a hearing loss, you should first of all visit your GP, as the difficulty may be due to something as simple as a blockage of earwax. But if the indications are that you may have a hearing loss, you should make arrangements to have your hearing assessed as soon as possible. Medical card holders should get a referral letter to HSE audiology services from their GP. If you don’t have a medical card, you should consider getting your hearing assessed privately.

“Many hearing aid providers offer free hearing tests, but that doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed a good service” says Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy. “We encourage people to choose their hearing aid provider carefully and to shop around. I would advise anyone considering buying hearing aids to read our leaflet ‘A guide to buying hearing aids’.”

 

If you think you may have a hearing loss,
consider getting a hearing test as soon as possible!

For more information, visit www.mindyourhearing.ie

 

Resources

Format
Size
Download

Concerned About Hearing Loss Leaflet

Download File
485kb
Download File

A Guide To Buying Hearing Aids

Download File
267kb
Download File
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Media Contacts

DeafHear.ie will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request.

To contact Brendan Lennon; Head of Information and Policy, click here...

 

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more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.

 

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