The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently released a damning report highlighting that several foreign owned global hearing clinics may not have your best interests at heart.
(Read more here: Hearing aid sector put on notice | Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).
This is a sad fact that I have warned people about in the past as a proudly independently owned and operated hearing specialist since 2012.
Many of the hearing clinics that you see around Australia are just ‘hearing aid shops’ owned and operated by major hearing aid manufacturers like William Demand (Denmark), Sonova (Switzerland), Starkey (America) which sell only their preferred brands.
Unfortunately, some Australians are being persuaded (too quickly and forcefully by retail salespeople) into buying the wrong hearing aid. Or they are not offered the education and support they need to get the best hearing and lifestyle outcomes. As a result, they leave their hearing aids in the drawer and regret the money they wasted.
Many of these unscrupulous clinics use shady tactics like commission based incentives to motivate their staff to sell their preferred, and often outrageously expensive brand of equipment to unsuspecting customers.
They are highly skilled salespeople and alarmingly, some have no qualifications at all. These salespeople are leading consumers to believe that their preferred solution, often unnecessarily expensive, is the only available choice.
Dealing with hearing loss is a vulnerable time and you should be able to trust that the person administering your hearing test and recommending a solution is not just doing so to get a kick-back.
If you are not planning on coming to one of Health & Hearings four clinics around Brisbane, you can still avoid being taken for a ride while getting your hearing checked by asking your hearing specialist these three questions:
This will help you ensure you are dealing with an independent clinic that has yours and the communities best interests at heart.
At a locally owned and operated clinic you’ll be able to get the attention and treatment you deserve without feeling like you are being rushed through like a number.
You should have all options available to suit your unique situation, not just what some hearing aid salesperson tells you can have.
Many of the hearing clinics around Brisbane are owned by global hearing aid manufacturers with high sales targets and lucrative incentive programs for staff.
If you feel like you are being pressured into purchasing only one option because ‘nothing else would suit your needs’ then you may need reconsider the purchase.
Avoid dealing with trained salespeople who are already counting their commission when you walk through the door and rushing you into a decision without proper hearing testing.
A qualified and experienced technician will take the extra time with your hearing test and offer independent, expert advice to ensure you get the best hearing aid for your condition, lifestyle and budget.
In 2012, I decided to establish a truly independent hearing clinic in Brisbane. I wanted to give my patients a thorough, unrushed hearing test along with advice and products that would give them the best possible outcome.
We stock all types of hearing aids and are respected specialists in invisible hearing aids. The latest ‘invisible’ technology is so small it allows you to regain clear, confident hearing and fullness of life without anybody knowing you’re wearing a hearing aid.
Call us today on (07) 3366 9355 to book your free no obligation, and no pressure expert hearing assessment at one of our four conveniently located Brisbane clinics in Ashgrove, Carina, Kenmore and Chermside.
My name is Malcolm Allen Black. I was an infantry soldier. I served for 30 years. I joined in 1959 and got out in 1988 serving in Malaysia, Borneo, Vietnam. I first heard about Health & Hearing when Soren was at Mitchelton. He had his offices there. I had in fact been going to another agency prior to this, but they were using a fairly antiquated system where they put a whole heap of green gel in your ear to create a mold to make the hearing aids out of. I found them most uncomfortable. I met Soren and I learned that there were better alternatives than these big old-fashioned things. As a result of that I got to know him and it’s been great ever since.
I was a bit reluctant about having hearing aids, but my wife was a bit concerned because a friend of hers, her husband had… basically he’d had similar problems but he would zone out and it concerned her – the wife of the husband. She seemed to be always being ignored. My wife more or less expressed the same feelings, so it convinced me that I should at least do something about it. Of course it’s been a great experience with Soren.
The original ones I found bulky and difficult to operate. These, because of the lack of bulk, I find them a lot better. They’re lighter and the actual concept is more practical than the ones that are in your ear. The technology is better. It seems to be clearer. It’s more crisp. It’s more comfortable to wear.
I would say it’s by far the best I’ve seen and the best I’ve heard. A number of my friends have had similar hearing problems. Exposed to gunfire for 30 years and some of those were quite loud, so there’s quite a lot of us with damaged hearing. I think Soren is by far the best. He’s given the best, he’s quite passionate about his subject and he keeps up with all the latest technology. I’d say I’m not going to get any better.
I’m ever so grateful. They’ve done a brilliant job, the staff outside and the reception and things like that. They’ve always looked after me very well. I can’t fault them.
My name is Don Cunningham. I served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1970 to 1990. I was a shipwright which is the ol’ ship’s carpenter in the old days. So if it was broken we’d fix it as long as we didn’t have to play with the electrics. Didn’t like that stuff.
I heard about Health & Hearing through a flyer that arrived on my workstation which is the little desk at the back that I sit at. I’d been having trouble with the hearing in my left ear. It wasn’t much good at all so I thought I’d give it a shot. Go along and see about a hearing aid. I’ve had good results because now I can hear out of the left ear relatively normal and I can understand what everybody’s talking about at our social gatherings and what have you whereas before it was just a big jumble. It’s extremely frustrating when you can’t hear what’s being said for start. You just sit there and try and lip read and that doesn’t work so you just sit there and nod when you’re supposed and shake your head when you’re supposed to. You’re not in it.
Working with Soren as a veteran, he understands, he gets it, he gets us. It makes it a lot easier to explain your problems and everything like that. He’s been really good in dealing with it. He looks after you. I guess he understands the reasons half of us are deaf or going deaf. You don’t have to explain it. He understands, he knows about gunfire and stuff like that. That’s what sent us deaf, or certainly didn’t help. Ships themselves are very, very noisy things. Lots of us do have hearing problems because of it. Because the noise never stopped.
Since I’ve had the hearing aid, to start off I can hear properly. I’ve also suffered from tinnitus and by wearing the hearing aid it’s reduced to where I don’t even notice it. Then I was hoping it’d do that and it did.
I can’t answer why I didn’t get a DVA hearing aid but I can tell you a few mates have got them and they sit in the drawer.
My life has changed with the hearing aid because I can watch TV and most times I know what they’re saying except for somebody [inaudible 05:13] and nobody knows what they’re saying, but my wife doesn’t have to repeat everything she says a dozen times, usually only a couple will do. But really I can hear it the first time. I just go along with it and say what’d you say because I don’t really know if she’s asked me to do something that I don’t want to do. It’s been good. It helped.
To get a good hearing aid, you got to spend a bit of dough I think and that’s obvious with the DVA that don’t seem to work. It ended up that I got private health so I use that plus the other DVA stuff. It made it manageable. It would have been out of my league if I didn’t have that really.
All my dealings with Soren and his guys has just been really good. I can ring up if I need something or whatever, I can just ring up, no problems at all. It’s been good. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t, I tell you.
Hi, my name’s Max. Like many of Soren’s clients, I served in the army for a period of 21 years and resigned my commission at a time where I was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss in the army. The army issued me hearing aids and I spent nearly 25 years going to the audiometrist to try and resolve my problem. Now I would work and my experience was always just an audiology just throwing me in a cabinet, showing me a graph, and sending me on with a recommendation for [eyes 06:47]. No mention of tinnitus, no mention of my broader health issues, no discussion on the impact on my family and on that goes. Soren on the other hand was quite different. Everyone sells hearing aids, but Soren sells health. There’s a reason why his company has Health number 1 and Hearing last.
As a group of people who have served, we are a strong network and I was referred. Most of us have issues – mental issues, most of us have social issues. I have discovered that hearing is a serious part of the healing process.
I was issued hearing aids in the army. They did not work. Technology took awhile to catch up. But even so, with the current technology, Soren differentiated himself with this health care first, and aids second. Anyone can get – buy – sophisticated hearing aids. But few if not no audiometrists spend time on health hearing – hearing and health combined.
I have been back to Soren several times. He has greeted me with warmth. He has asked me about my health, he has asked me about the impact of the hearing aids, and I’ve been doing that for six months. Soren was a [ex-Dutch 08:20] veteran. He understands, he gets it. He delivers. He’s very active in the veteran community.
When Soren diagnosed my hearing loss, he recommended a type of hearing aid that would suit my hearing loss perfectly. I couldn’t afford it. I left his office. He found me two days later and said come back. He gave me the hearing aids that I needed. How he did that, as a businessman, I have no idea. I am in debt.
I’ll refer Soren to every veteran and ex-soldier. It’s not only veterans who have served overseas that have got a hearing loss. It needs to be appreciated that even training is in my part of the army anyway, can be quite rigorous. So hearing loss is not uncommon for those who have been deployed. I am a very big referrer of Soren’s services. I have done it several times. They’ve all enjoyed their experience. The point I’ll make again is the issue is about well being and health. The resolution to the hearing problem contributes to that, but that’s his discussion. It starts with the health needs. The holistic approach.
Soren’s business, his staff, himself, significantly differentiate the audiometrists that I’ve experienced in Brisbane and elsewhere. And there are many. There are many audiometrists, there are many that I have visited. But Soren is the only one, and I’ll repeat, that satisfies my wider health needs as part of his resolving my hearing problems.
My name’s Dave, Dave McDonald. I joined up in 1967. The Sergeant in the police thought it was a good idea and he took me down to Sydney from Newcastle and he got me up the steps at York Street. Three months later I was in the army.
It affected me a bit in as much as I’d missed the point that something that my wife would say and that was the cause of a big argument. Then when she found out I was deaf, she couldn’t be more sorry and apologizing but that lasted about a week and then I went back to being abused for not listening. Honestly, in lectures and things like that, I couldn’t grasp what was going on. Sometimes it was the crux of the matter, and you missed out. I have no problem now. I still have the habit of looking at people’s lips, but that’s just me from now on that’s my way of looking you in the eye when we’re talking. I hate people who don’t look each other in the eye when they’re having a conversation.
The one I had before was a big elephant ear – it looked like Dumbo. You’re rushed through as a veteran – sign here, they’re ready, and away you go. Don’t forget to keep wearing them. No follow-up. That’s what this place excels at. Soren wouldn’t let me go until he made sure everything was [tiggity boo 11:56].
As a veteran, Soren related. He knows what we want. We don’t want those big ears that DVA gives you when you first go for a hearing test and they give you the hearing aids. Soren came up with these in-the-ear. Much more comfortable. Much better looking. But the after service. Julie and Soren, they chase you up. It’s plain to me be known. There’s no hassle. None.
I’m an avid member of the golf club down at Ashgrove. There was a flyer down there. [unintelligible 12:42] I wasn’t impressed with the one over the road there because I still had that big booth. I was a bit claustrophobic on that stage. I hated that booth. I’d do anything to get out of it. Soren with this new technology and everything – it was just easy.
I’ve heard from Mel Black and Max Moran who were out there. Mates of mine, good mates. It just goes on like that. I’d tell anyone I know – look at me. Oh, ear plugs. As I said before, I give Soren’s name out left right and center. So does Mel, so does Max, we all do. Julie is so bubbly on the telephone, my gosh settle down. What’s happening here. I have nothing but praise. If I had a fault Soren would know it and he knows, I’d tell him anyways. More than happy.
Terry Curtis. I’m from Brisbane. I live in Bridgeman Downs. I went away to Vietnam with the Ninth Battalion in the old Australian Regiment in 1968-1969. In fact we did 13 months overseas. Went on the advance party and came home on the… so didn’t do 12 months we did 13 months, or some of us did. When I joined the army, they didn’t do a test like they do here now. A fella stood behind me and whispered 55 or… and I passed. I had 20/20 or whatever it is, hearing. So technically, I guess I had a hearing loss before I joined the army. Then it’s progressively gotten worse maybe because of old age, I don’t know. We put it down to gunfire.
A friend of mine is sitting out there, Bob [Buick 14:50], told me that he just got hearing aids and he can’t hear. He never met a more professional outfit in the way that this technology. He had hearing tests from people from acoustic laboratories all around Australia like we did in those days – in the army days. He told me about it and I said, well I’m due for hearing aids. Rang up, made an appointment, came here, and I got mine yesterday. Driving home in the car I had to turn the volume down in the radio [chuckles] , that’s how good they are. This morning my wife was talking. She talks so much louder you know, so I just got to put up with that.
I’ve always had a hearing aid in this ear, but never in this one. And this is my really bad ear. This one in here – it’s just amazing, you know? I can take this one out and hear quite well with this one which I could never do before. Even though I had hearing aids, this was the best I’ve ever had. I told Bob this morning when we were coming along. I’ve never had a hearing aid as good as this in this ear. Amazing, isn’t it?
What I used to have before. I have two hearing aids and in this one he wore one – I’d get an echo. You might speak and I’d get it here, then I’d get it here in this one. That doesn’t happen now.
He has such a presence about him. You sit down and you feel confident to let him take you over. That’s what I did. He looked professional, I know he was professional. You just do what he says. It wasn’t all that hard to do. You just sat there and I trusted what he was doing. That’s what you expect a professional to do. I was happy with it. He took a lot of time to set up and I appreciate that. I will come back in two weeks I think and readjust or whatever. That’s what I call professionalism. I recommend it for vet friends or someone who’s got a hearing aid. You’ll be treated like you have a hearing loss and we’re going to improve it. Improve your hearing. That’s what you want. Not someone who’s going to take the money from the government and give your buddy something to stick in your year. Up until this day I used to call them ear plugs. This is different now. Anyway. That’s me. [Laughs]
My name is Graham Palmer. I’ve been in the Australian Defence Force for the last 45 years. I’m from Brisbane. During that time that I’ve served in Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, and the Middle East on a short deployment to the UAE. I’ve always come back to Brisbane in the time that I’ve been in the Defense Force. I’m now a part time soldier but I’m on contract with the [Gulligly 17:59] barracks.
I have a friend of mine who I’ve been putting up with tinnitus for about 25 or 30 years. I’ve a friend of mine in Harvey Bay who sent me to a mate of his at Harvey Bay and said that I needed hearing aids. From there I got allocated the standard DVA hearing aids. Through that gentleman I met Soren. Then about three months ago I lost my hearing aids, or they were stolen from an activity I was at. I come and saw Soren and that’s how we formed our relationship.
There’s a vast difference. The ones that I was originally issued by the DVA, they certainly helped to improve my hearing a little bit, but I suffer from tinnitus quite badly. The ones I’ve now got through Soren, they not only help my hearing but they also improve my tinnitus. They block it out a bit. They’ve actually got a hearing mechanism where I can Bluetooth from my television to that so I don’t annoy my family anymore having the television loud. So the television can actually be muted and I can still hear the TV generally about wherever I walk in my house. That goes for radios or stereos or whatever I want. It’s actually improved my quality of life and made me much more pleasant at home to be around.
Since I came to see Soren where I got these new hearing aids, my life has actually got vastly improved – just the quality of life because the hearing aids are better. I’m not as self-conscious they’re a little bit smaller as what I did before, and as you can probably tell in the video I’ve got no hair, so I wear my hair very short and the other ones were quite bulky. These are refined so I tend to wear them more outside than I ever have before.
As a veteran, I’ve found that they are very pleasing and comfortable experience. I have dealt with a few different organizations as a veteran and it’s always – you get the feeling that you’re not, I won’t say treated as a second class citizen, but you always get the opinion or the feeling that you’re trying to take the system for something. However, you come here, you’re very, very welcome. Soren puts you at ease and immediately puts you at ease and you feel like okay I’m at the right place. I’m actually going to be looked after. I’ve been to a few hearing specialists and you always get this, you know you’re trying to take the system or whatever, but you don’t get this here at all. They’re really welcoming. You get the impression that they’ll go the extra mile to look after veterans.
Even at work I wear them where I wouldn’t before. I wear these now. Also just being able to listen to conversations better because I’m wearing them. It does help my tinnitus. I have tinnitus nearly 24 hours a day and it does help to block it out. It’s just improved so much it’s unbelievable.
When Soren discussed them with me originally, I was thinking that it’d have to be out of pocket because I hear all of these terrible stories, however it cost me completely nothing. It was absolutely free which was really good. From what I understand that Soren does this as a service to veterans, he either takes no money at all out of it or very minimal cost to himself. I think that’s fantastic.
I recommend Soren’s Health & Hearing to any veteran to come on in and speak to Soren. I give you my assurance that in my job I have to be very confident and be upfront and honest. I’m a welfare officer in the Australian Army. He gives you exemplary service to a veteran so I highly recommend him.