HEARING AIDS-MIRACLE EAR & OTHER PRIVATE LABEL
Today when I arrived home, I received a mailing piece from Miracle-Ear regarding an offer to buy hearing aids. They obviously are not aware I am a competitor.
Miracle-Ear, is a brand name created by a Hearing Aid Pioneer name Ken Dahlberg and his son Jeff. Kenny Dahlberg got into the hearing aid business after WWII. After some legal decisions involving the FDA and FTC and BELTONE Hearing Aids, in 1983 Ken Dahlberg announced the Brand Miracle-Ear. The name was associated with a very small hearing aid in the same way Frigidair and Xerox were identified with the products they introduced.
Dahlberg was one of the major suppliers to Sears for their hearing aid departments,among others, and was eventually to sold to Bausch & Lamb and then sold again to Amplifon of Italy. Amplifon sold the physical properties to Siemen Hearing Aids who now is making the hearing aids for Amplifon with the various Labels including Miracle-Ear.Amplifon does not manufacture hearing aids. They are strictly a marketing Company that sells hearing aids through Wal-Mart Stores, Sears Stores,Miracle-Ear Centers,and SONUS offices and Affiliates.
The only problem I have with Amplifon is not with their products, which are as good as any, why wouldn't they be, but with their marketing efforts, qualifications of their employees,and the way their business is conducted.
Like any Company, they are only interested in generating profits for the owners and the investors.Their employees, who are Hearing Aid Dispensers, whether they are Audiologists or Hearing Aid Specialists, are only interested in selling hearing aids, since that is how they are compensated.
Their marketing efforts employ typical current techniques. Promotional Discounts, in absurd amounts,over-priced products, incompetent employees, only interested generating sales, and sales presentations resembling those involved with selling jewelry.
The hearing aid product, and the services involved, and the Buyers of the Product, are unique, and the sales and marketing of any other product, do not apply to the Hearing Aid Industry.
It is primarily the profit potential available that attracts the big "Players" in retail sales.
The locations in the Sears Stores, are regarded as Concessions, the same as the Watch Repair Concession. The financial arrangement used to be that SEARS received 15% commission on the total sales of the Hearing Aid Division sales, and in return provided the space and all the expenses such as energy and maintenance. The Employees were all on Straight Commission, and usually there was a high turnover. Promises were made and not kept. Anything to sell Hearing Aids.
The Consumer suffered.
The Primary Problem with buying a Hearing Aid Product of any type, from any of the Names or Brands associated with AMPLIFON, such as Miracle-Ear or SONUS, is that no one else can service the products. No one else can program or adjust the hearing aids because the Computer Software is not available to Independent Hearing Aid Dispensers. The Consumer is at the mercy of Miracle-Ear and SONUS, and obviously, they have no mercy.
Look at their pricing, and the techniques they use to sell hearing aids. Would anyone really want to get involved in a long term relationship with them?
This is another case of BUYER BEWARE.
Consumers, especially World War II vintage, have a Trust Relationship with SEARS. Also, Miracle-Ear exploits the Credit Card advantage available through SEARS. SEARS is in financial trouble and is not the same SEARS of the past 100 years. Everyone is scrambling.
It is up to the Consumer, and Consumer Advocates, and of course the appropriate Government Enforcement Agencies, to police the Hearing Aid Industry, and the Retail Industry in general.
Thank God we have Small Claims Courts in every State.
Read the Literature from all Hearing Aid Companies, Distirbutors,Dealers,and Hearing Aid Dispensers, including Audiologists,including Medical Doctors,and Facilities, including Universities, and Non-Profit Organizations,with a jundiced eye, and great scrutiny. Involve your Family for their input before you get involved and buy any product.
Know who you are doing business with, and why.
Know their Reputation.