There are a 25 percentage points between the overall customer scores of the highest and lowest-rated hearing aid providers, according to our latest customer survey.
We asked 3,183 Which? members to rate NHS and private hearing aid providers on twenty-one aspects of service, including price, value for money, range, suitability of hearing aids and staff skill.
Our survey results cover private suppliers such as Boots Hearing Care and Specsavers Hearing Care, as well as the NHS.
The top-rated hearing aid supplier achieved an impressive 87% overall customer score, while the lowest scorer picked up 62%. Just two providers were rated excellent for the range of hearing aids they offer, with one supplier slated as being poor.
Find out who the winners and losers are in our guide to the best and worst hearing aid companies.
NHS vs private hearing aids
Most people get their hearing aids from the NHS, so we’ve compared the experiences of both NHS and private customers to see if going private is any better.
We grilled hearing aid users on how things had gone from start to finish when getting a hearing aid. They also told us how satisfied they are generally with their hearing aid provider, and whether they’d recommend it to a friend.
We used customer ratings to compare the NHS and private companies on measures including cleanliness and privacy of facilities, staff skill, customer service and thoroughness of testing.
While there are significant differences between how customers rate private hearing aid suppliers to the NHS, the choice of hearing aids shouldn’t be one of them. Contrary to what many people assume, the NHS offers all the same brands as you can get privately.
While it’s possible that the NHS won’t offer the very latest models, the technology will be up to date and the hearing aids just as good as the latest models available privately.
Most people we surveyed ended up with Phonak, Oticon or Siemens/Signia hearing aids, regardless of whether they went through the NHS or a private supplier.
Our NHS vs private hearing aids page tells you everything you need to know to make the best choice for you.
What should you pay for hearing aids?
Not all hearing aid companies publish their prices, and even when they do it’s hard to work out which the most up-to-date models are.
So we’ve used intelligence from manufacturers and retailers to create our definitive guide to hearing aid prices.
Hearing aid users we spoke to told us they’d paid between an average of £1,583 and £2,882 for a pair. But, our research shows that for one company, 10% of its customers paid in excess of £5,000.
Hearing aid pressure-selling
Nearly half (47%) of customers of one company told us they felt under pressure to buy, and a third (35%) felt some pressure to buy a more expensive option from a range of solutions.
We have advice and a video on how to buy hearing aids and the pros and cons of buying hearing aids privately.
Companies do offer different packages that are bundled into the price – for example, batteries and wax traps and frequency of appointments.
You shouldn’t feel under pressure to buy, and should be able to shop elsewhere to compare offerings and prices. You’ll have an ongoing relationship with your audiologist, so it’s important you feel comfortable from the start.