In November 2014 the consumer review website, Which? published a report on the best and worst providers of hearing aids in the UK.
The following content was published…
Best and Worst Providers
You scored independent providers best overall, giving them five-star ratings across the board and a customer score of 84%. There were lots of comments about the professionalism of staff and good aftercare, including ‘First-class service from a professional audiologist who knows his job 100%’ and ‘Staff very helpful and willing to work with me to get the best out of my aids’.
Boots Hearingcare (and David Ormerod, which is now called Boots Hearingcare) got the second-highest consumer score at 79%, with comments on the ‘friendly and helpful experience’. Overall, around a fifth of those buying their hearing aids felt under pressure to select pricier aids from the range offered, and this was most likely to be experienced at Boots Hearingcare/David Ormerod. Those who used independent shops were least likely to feel this pressure.
The lowest scoring major chain was Hidden Hearing, with 62%. You rated it poorly on products and pricing, including transparency. It was least likely to be recommended to a friend by its customers (16% wouldn’t recommend it, compared with 3% for Amplifon or independents).
Many members liked Hidden Hearing’s service and convenience, with comments such as ‘very handy premises, with excellent receptionist and open six days a week’, but there were also a number of comments about its high prices. One member said ‘I feel that I was sold a more expensive aid than I needed, but it was partly my own fault for not researching further’.
Specsavers Hearcare got an average three stars across all categories. It was described as ‘nothing special’ and as a ‘good all-round hearing centre’.
On average, those using a private provider waited just under a week for an appointment, while those using NHS waited just under four weeks – although four in 10 waited more than a month.
HOW CUSTOMERS RATE PRIVATE HEARING AID RETAILERS
WHY YOU MUSTN’T IGNORE HEARING LOSS
Louise Overton, independent audiologist
For most people, hearing loss is very gradual. Our brain, which we actually hear with, get used to not hearing everything. On average, it takes 10 years before you recognize the deterioration and act.
When you first start wearing a hearing aid, it takes around four to six weeks’ adjustment. Your brain is suddenly bombarded with sound that it may not have heard for many years and it has to re-learn what to pay attention to, i.e speech and what to ignore, i.e environmental sounds.
The longer you leave your hearing problem before you do anything, the the harder it is for your brain to adjust. Like any part of your body that you exercise, the hearing part of the brain works better when it’s stimulated.
When making the transition to wearing an aid, it helps to be realistic. However expensive, no aid can make you hear perfectly again. And currently no hearing aid can totally get rid of background noise, so if people around you are struggling to hear, then you probably will too.
The good news, though, is that good technology can really enhance your hearing. While hearing aids may not be perfect, with patience and perseverance they can be life-changing.
MY NEW HEARING AIDS MAKE SUCH A DIFFERENCE
Dolly Loth, Surrey
Dolly decided to go privately to a local independent, as her NHS hearing aids were hugely amplifying background noise, such as the wind whistling.
Dolly applauds her audiologist’s fabulous perseverance in customizing the hearing aids, which were initially uncomfortable. The aids cost £4,000 and Dolly feels they offer all the features she needs.
She says: ‘The audiologist was realistic about what improvement to my hearing I could expect and really worked with me, visiting my home to get it right. They make such a difference when I’m socializing and I can watch TV without driving the whole household mad’
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