PHONAK USA, soon to be a part of the largest hearing aid group in the World, which will also include Unitron,Beltone,ReSound, and I'm sure others I'm not aware of, and also those deals that are pending, kicked off a new product campaign with a 5 million dollar advertising and sales promotion budget.
The campaign included all types of media, including a Display Sign in Times Square, New York City.
The emphasis was on a new design of a hearing aid, along with a new name for a hearing aid. Although PHONAK knows the story about the Duck,looking like a Duck, walking like a Duck, and quacking like a Duck, Madison Avenue Gurus must have felt a name like: Personal Communication Assistant, sounded more up to date and provided less stigma, evidently attached to a Hearing Aid.
Perhaps a more romantic name could have been adapted from the list of languages available through the United Nations Web Site, and I'm sure such an inquiry was made, but they settled on a new name in the English Language, even though the English Language is being eliminated in the United States, or at least its usage is becoming optional. But thats another subject.
A Participating Dealer signed-up to participate in the Campaign and assumed a debt of $2,500 supposedly to cover a Direct Mailing Campaign in selected Zip Codes to the marketing area of the Dealer.
For purposes of tracking the response and success of the Campaign, all responses to any form of Media, including the Direct Mail, were directed to a Fulfillment & Auditing Company and immediately forwarded all telephone inquiries to the participating and designated Dealers.
The mechanics of the Campaign have worked very well.
Interested Prospects got to speak to a live English Speaking Person who obtained certain information and then forwarded to call to the Dealer.
Almost without exception, the first question asked was about Price.
To my knowledge there was no training by PHONAK how to handle the inquirys or respond to the Price Question, and Price Fixing is Illegal in the United States, regardless of the recent Supreme Court Decision (which is available and can be downloaded)
so the Price of the Product depended strictly upon the imagination and pricing strategy of the Participating Dealers.
Some Dealers price their Products (All Brands and Models of Hearing Aids) at a 3, 4, or 5, times mark-up.
There are 2 Price Levels and Software Models of the Audeo, which are called the Audeo 5 and the Audeo 9 versions. With a magnifying glass, when the battery door is opened, the exact number, written in Roman Numerials, is revealed. Either V for 5 and IX for 9. Evidently, like the Roman Catholic Church, PHONAK is trying to bring back LATIN.
Both Models of the Audeo, the 5 and the 9, can be affected by the use of a Remote Control which is also available in 3 types, Wrist Watches, and 2 Hand Held versions. There is a Mans Watch available in a beautiful metal band or a rubber type sport band, more traditional and easily adjustable. The Watches come with either a White Face or a Black Face (just like some People) and the Black Face Wrist Watch with a Metal Band, is more attractive, at least in my opinion, and yes I am White (also male). The Womans watch, in order to be fair, is available the same way.
The Watch Remotes cost the Dealer about $400.00 each type, and the Hand Held Remotes cost the Dealer $200.00
The Watches are high quality Swiss Made and keep very,very, accurate time. They are Quartz and use 2 batteries, because of the voltage drain caused by the transfer signal to the Hearing Aids.
All the Remotes, provide the Hearing Aid User with the Option of complementing the automatic features of the hearing aids,by raising and lowering the volume. (Raising the Volume on any Hearing Aid is never Automatic, what is automatic about the volume is it is lowered when the Hearing Aid is subjected to Loudness Levels higher than those determined by the use of a Computer in the initial fitting appointment, and then returning to that established volume level, when the ambient noise levels are reduced or lowered.)
With a Remote Control, you have the Option of raising the Volume (or lowering it) in decible increments, for up to 10 decibals in 2 decible increments. When you press the volume control device (of any type) the Hearing Aid User (Only) hears a beep. When 2 Beeps are heard, the device has reached the (optional) 10 decible level.
In Sound, although its hard to believe, Sound doubles in loudness in 6 decible increments.
The Goal of the Sound Walls built along the Freeways in California, are intended to reduce the Sound Level on the Back-side of the Wall by 5 Decibels.
Each model hearing aid has 3 automatic programs and an additional 3 programs can be activated by the use of the Remote.
The devices identify the optional activations by - Lower the volume, + raise the volume, P change the Program.
All changes can be reversed or restored by the Remote or by opening and closing the battery door.
When the Battery Door is opened and closed in any Programmable Hearing Aid , of any Brand or Type, by any Manufacturer, ever made, the Hearing Aid reverts back to what is called Program 1 and the Volume level is automatically set at what is called "Half-on".
Program 1 is automatically set and established by a formula in the Computer Software, but the parameters can be changed and set by the Hearing Aid Dispenser, through the use of the Computer Software at any time.
Program 1 is always set to be used 90% of the time. It is designed to be used in a quiet room in a one on one conversation, which is what most People use most of the time.
There are usually at least a Dozen Options available in each Program.
There are also hundreds of other adjustments that can be made within the Programs.
Usually there more Programs available in a Hearing Aid, the more expensive the Hearing Aid.
Having additional Programs available in a Hearing Aid is like having 2, 3, or 4, different hearing aids, in 1 shell.
Different strokes for different folks.
You can usually change the programs by the use of a small (very small) button or switch.
Since the Faceplate on a CIC model is so small there usually isn't any room for a control or it can't be located or felt by the Hearing Aid User.
Competitive Hearing Aid Dealers include the Remote in the price of the hearing aid package.
I believe a Competitive Price for a Pair of the Audeo 5 Hearing Aids, including any model of Remote, including the Watch is $3,990 Dollars. That includes a 2 Year Warranty, including Loss & Damage Protection, whereby a Lost or Damaged Hearing Aid is replaced for $350.00 There is no loss & damage protection on the Remote Controls.
I believe a Competitive Price for a Pair of the Audeo 9 Hearing Aids is $4,990 Dollars. That includes a 2 year Repair Warranty and a 2 Year Loss & Damage Provision. Again, the Hearing Aids are replaced at a cost of 350.00
Such Retail prices provide about $1,500 to $2,000 Dollars Profit to the Hearing Aid Provider, whatever Title they use.
Not bad for about an average of 3 to 4 hours work over a period of about a year.
The design of the Audeo is called an "Open Fit" which is primarily intended for People suffering from a High Frequency Hearing Loss, which means they miss the correct understanding of the Spoken Word. Usually involving Consonants.
These same People usually have a feeling of being occluded if anything is placed in their Ear Canal. Try your Finder. The Open Fit Designed Dome, eliminates the feeling of being stuffed up.
Digital Signal Processing, used in conjunction with these type of Fittings, minimizes or eliminates feedback, usually associated with trying to wear a hearing aid designed for a High Frequency Hearing Loss.
To determine whether you have a High Frequency Hearing Loss, just "Cup" your ears forward when speaking or watch television, or listening to another Person.
If the Words sound sharper and clearer, you probably have a High Frequency Hearing Loss.
High Frequency Sounds, in Audiology, are usually though of , and in the range of, the last 24 keys on the right hand side of a Piano Keyboard.
Thats where the Consonants are spoken and heard.
The 48 keys on the right hand side of the Piano Keyboard is where all speech signals occur.
Middle C is the 40th key on an 88 key Piano Keyboard. I believe it vibrates at 261 cylcles per second. Hearing Loss testing usually starts at 250 cycles per second on an audiometer.
The lst key on the left of the Keyboard A, vibrates at about 25 cycles per second. Most Humans can't hearing below 25 cycles, although we can feel the sound vibrations.
Thus far, those responding to the Advertising Campaign on the Audeo, have been a little younger, than the typical Campaign, but they are still mostly Senior Citizens, and most of them only have a High Frequency Hearing Loss.
Which usually means, the use of a Hearing Aid, whatever it is called, and whatever its design, and color, is totally OPTIONAL.
A Person with a High Frequency Hearing Loss can function without a hearing aid, just not as well.
Depending upon how important understanding the Spoken Word Accurately is, and how much of a Problem it is causing the Individual and Family Members, usually determines whether a Hearing Aid is purchased.
Pricing a Hearing Aid beyond the individuals NEED iin understanding speech accurately is a mistake.
Most Dealers have other Brands of Open Fit models availabe at all types of varying prices levels intended to fit every pocket book.
I suggest shopping around for the best product and best price for your individual and specific needs.
Also, there is no law that says you have to wear 2.
Maybe 1 will serve your purposes.
Remember, you risk nothing when you try or buy a Hearing Aid. At least in the State of California.
All monies, related to the purchase of a Hearing Aid, including testing, is 100% refundable within 30 days of purchase.