In Health on Monday 16th Nov, 2020

Specsavers takes on the hearing aid industry’s secretive pricing

There are more than 160 Specsavers Audiology stores across Australia – but unlike some other hearing companies, you can view Specsavers’ prices before you even walk in.

The realisation you may have hearing loss can be a pretty confronting time. First, you have to make the decision to confirm your suspicions with a hearing check. Then there’s the wide range of hearing solutions to choose from, including a wide range of styles and technology options. You may be left wondering how to start your research and who to trust with your hearing care needs.

That’s why it’s important for you to know that audiology services and hearing aids are available from a trusted brand that offers end-to-end care (from free hearing checks and easy-to-understand advice, to personalised fittings and first-class aftercare) at great prices.

Don’t let your hearing health suffer

The hearing sector hasn’t always made it easy for Australians to find solutions to their hearing issues. A 2017 report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that hearing aids ranged in price from about $1,500 to more than $15,000, yet it was hard to compare like-for-like because hearing aid providers didn’t offer much information on product benefits and functionality.

That led consumers to buy expensive hearing aids that often didn’t suit their needs, the ACCC said, leaving many deeply dissatisfied.

And while the regulator’s report put the industry on notice to improve transparency and service, even now, if you take a quick look at some hearing aid retailers’ websites, you’ll notice that many still use complex product descriptions or fail to provide clear product prices.

Kathryn Launchbury, Senior Audiologist at Specsavers Audiology, says understandable worries about price is one of the reasons why Australians typically wait 7 to 10 years to seek a solution for their hearing loss.

“Hearing aids can be expensive and prices are not always readily available before seeing an audiology professional,” she says. “Therefore it can be difficult for customers to feel empowered when they need to make the decision to invest in their hearing health and leads them to postpone taking action until their hearing loss is having a significant impact on their life.”

So, you might be wondering, well, ‘where can I find clear, upfront pricing and expert customer-care from a brand I can trust?’

The answer is, it may be somewhere you already visit regularly – Specsavers.

A name you trust, now in hearing care

While you probably know Specsavers as the place you should’ve gone to avoid an embarrassing eyesight-related incident, Specsavers also offers hearing services that are very different to most other Australian hearing aid providers. Although Specsavers Audiology is relatively new to Australia, it’s been operating in the UK for more than 16 years.

“We wanted to offer hearing services at traditional Specsavers prices, providing transparent pricing and good value for our customers with excellent care and support,” Launchbury says.

Specsavers Audiology turns the traditional hearing aid sales model described in the ACCC report on its head by giving consumers complete transparency on prices before they even set foot in a store – the full range of styles and prices can be seen on their website so you can walk into your hearing appointment prepared with information on how much you may have to pay.

“We believe that customers should know what they are going to pay before they start their journey, so we are leading by example by offering clear, transparent pricing,” Launchbury explains, “the cost of hearing aids should never be a surprise.”

Choice backs Specsavers on price

Independent consumer body Choice agrees, saying that Specsavers Audiology’s own Advance-brand hearing aids “are substantially cheaper than competitors”, with premium models costing $3,495 per pair compared to $6,000 to $8,000 or more for mainstream brands. The Standard Advance models start from $1,495 for a pair (or at no cost to you if you are eligible for the government Hearing Services Program) and you don’t have to pay extra for a more discreet style of hearing aid.

Hearing aids have come a long way from the bulky, unsightly models of old – can you spot the Advance Mini RIC, priced from $1,495 per pair, in this photo?

It’s not just the upfront purchase price that matters when it comes to buying hearing aids, but also the maintenance, aftercare and reliability of the product. Specsavers Audiology offers free aftercare for 12 months, so any maintenance checks or adjustments to your hearing aids needed during this period are at no further cost. Customers will be provided with enough batteries to reasonably operate their hearing aids for a one-year period (if their hearing aids require them), plus a 4-year warranty. And if you’re not completely happy or have concerns with your purchase, Specsavers Audiology has a 90-day return period.

Specsavers makes hearing care easy

If you or your loved one has been putting off getting your hearing checked, it’s now simpler with Specsavers with free hearing screenings for those aged 40-plus in all stores offering audiology services. You can check if your local Specsavers is one of the 169-plus stores that offers audiology and book a free 15-minute hearing check with a Specsavers Audiology Professional  by using this easy portal.

If you’d prefer not to go into a store or are self-isolating, hearing consultations can still be done remotely with an audiology professional. A free 15 minute telehealth consultations can be booked online.

After your hearing check, the next step is a more comprehensive hearing assessment that costs $49, or at no cost if you’re eligible for the Australian government’s Hearing Services Program (HSP). This diagnostic assessment is an hour-long appointment including sharing your results, and we can discuss if hearing aids are the right solution for you.

Launchbury encourages anyone who’s planning to go to such an appointment, whether with Specsavers or another hearing care company, to go armed with pricing information that’s available on Specsavers’ website.

The senior audiologist had some important words of advice for anyone considering hearing aids.

“We understand the purchase of hearing aids is a big decision no matter the price,” she says. “When deciding on hearing aids, make sure you know the prices of every level of technology and if possible, find out this information prior to your hearing assessment appointment so you have an idea of the potential costs involved. Also, don’t feel pressured into making a decision on the day.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Hearing not on par?

Did you know Specsavers can look after your ears as well as your eyes? So, if you feel like your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, visit your local Specsavers audiology professional for a free 15-minute hearing check today. T&Cs apply.

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Have you tried researching hearing aid prices before? Did you find it easy to get the information you wanted?

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