Which on Hearing aid brands and retailers
We were interested to see Which talking about National hearing aid retailers and their ownership by big hearing aid brands. We have talked about National Retailers here on Know, but we have never focused on them really. Our job as we see it is to support Independent hearing healthcare. The article caught me a bit by surprise, probably cognitive bias though. I just assumed everyone knew that certain retailers were owned by hearing aid companies?
Lack of Transparency
In essence, Which pointed out that three hearing aid brands owned or part owned by some of the big hearing aid brands. What they were most concerned about was that when you went to visit these retailers, they only carried a few hearing aid brands and pushed you toward their owner company brand.
I think the biggest complaint was in relation to transparency and I get that, I do understand that. However, the three hearing aid brands involved, Oticon, Widex and Phonak actually offer some fantastic hearing aids. In fact I would go so far as to say market leading. Are there better, depends on what you want really. If i was buying Made For iPhone, I would buy Resound. At least for the moment.
Would I be afraid of any hearing aid from the three brands mentioned. I would have to say no. In fact I would be happy to reccomend most of the hearing aids they offer to my Patients depending on their loss and their individual needs. I am not here to defend hearing aid brands, or National Retailers, but you know, you got to be fair and balanced. Although I think Which were. But I think they missed a bigger point.
White Labelling & Missing The Point
I think Which actually missed the point a little, in fact they mentioned it, but didn't really expand on it. The real issue for me is white labelling. They mentioned white labelling and that certain manufacturers made white label or own brand hearing aids for particular retailers.
White Labelling Hearing Aids Gives No Transparency
I have said here and in my hearing aid book that I don't like white labelling, white labelling ensures that a hearing aid buyer has no idea what they are buying. How can they? No brand name, no brand technology level, so exactly how do you know what you are getting for the money spent? Absolutely no like for like comparison and the retailer can tell you any old rubbish about provenance. Now that's a lack of transparency.
I was surprised that Which didn't look deeper into this, but hey, I was caught by surprise by the article, cognitive bias again maybe. Assuming that everyone knows what I know. Anyway, you all should be going to see Independents, the Nationals can take care of themselves.
Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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