Think twice about your hearing aids

SEEK OPTIONS: Consumers are being urged to ask more questions when it comes to purchasing hearing aids following a report by the ACCC.
SEEK OPTIONS: Consumers are being urged to ask more questions when it comes to purchasing hearing aids following a report by the ACCC.

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A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) placing the hearing aid industry on notice has been welcomed by Redland’s audiologist Wesley Ong. 

In a report titled Issues around the sales of hearing aids the ACCC is encouraging the industry to reconsider the use of commissions, disclosure and sales practices, as well as urge consumers to shop around when it comes to hearing aids. 

Mr Ong, of the Fidelity Hearing Centre, welcomed report saying it needed to be done to regulate the industry and provide transparency for patients. 

The report found that patients are not always aware of incentive payments and commissions received by clinicians, and if they are disclosed, they are generally buried in the terms and conditions provided post-sale. 

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The ACCC found that not all incentives are of monetary value. Manufacturers have been known to offer clinicians all expenses paid overseas trips to conferences, as well as electronics.

It doesn’t bode well for consumers, with the ACCC raising concerns about older customers “remortgaging their homes or entering into financial plans to pay for high end hearing aids”. 

Hearing aids range in price from $1500 to $15,000 for a pair. Commissions on hearing aids can be as large as 15 per cent, according to the report. 

“Commission-based selling can provide incentives to clinicians to supply hearing aids that are unnecessary or more expensive than a consumer needs,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

“This has the potential to lead to consumer harm where trusted advice is being given to patients, many of whom may be vulnerable or disadvantaged.

“Hearing clinics should be conscious of the incentives they offer and consider remuneration structures that reward service and quality advice ahead of sales.”

CHOICE advises consumers to shop around to find the most competitive price before making a commitment.

When it comes to getting your hearing tested, one of the benefits of going with an independent clinic is knowing hearing clinicians are not influenced by anything. 

Fidelity Hearing Clinic, located in Birkdale, is independent and is an an Audiology Australia accredited audiologist. With a particularly strong interest in hearing aid technology, Wesley is able to select and customise the most appropriate devices to suit each individual client. 

Phone to book an appointment on 1300 792 634.

Choosing a hearing aid

  • Ask the clinician about range, features, benefits and prices. You may not need the features of a more expensive model. 
  • Ask for a quote including the type and cost of any recommended hearing aid. 
  • Get a copy of your hearing test results and use it to shop around for the best deals. 
  • If you don’t understand something, keep asking until you so. 
  • Pay only what you need. Some clinics may be commission, or incentive driven to sell you more. 

*Source: ACCC