The Phonak Brio is a specially made product only sold at Costco warehouses. It is not the exact same product and doesn't have the same exact features as the regular line we carry in our private hearing practices. You will find that warehouses typically carry economy lines made by the major manufacturers. Some of these lines can only be programmed by Costco. Most economy lines are not the latest models or technology made by the manufacturer, which is why they are less expensive. The products are not bad by any means, but there are factors to consider beyond price. Programming hearing instruments is very technical and takes high skill to do correctly, especially with higher levels of hearing loss. The software to program normally is just a starting point, the skills of the hearing professional come into play in setting it correctly. I find that there are more advanced options available and I don't want to be limited by offering just very limited and specific lines. As a private practice I can provide more catering to specific needs and spend more time with my patients setting the aids correctly. Many times the professionals in warehouses are starting out in the business and have limited programming skills or too many patients to maintain to spend a lot of time with you. Ask lots of questions and find out why they are recommending a specific aid, see if it's the best fit for your hearing loss or is it just because that's one of the very few options available in their line of products. The same can be said of franchises that offer just one brand. If you aren't as concerned about a precise fitting, price is the biggest factor (you'll spend a little more at private practice) or you have more of a minor loss, then a warehouse setting may work for your needs. Thanks for the question and for taking the time to educate yourself! Learning about the options and brands before making a huge investment is key, especially when it regards your hearing! Best of luck to you.
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