ACCC concerned hearing aid sales may be driven by commissions

Richard Laycock 3 March 2017 NEWS

Doctor fitting hearing aid on female patients ear

Survey finds that sales commissions and incentives are used to motivate clinicians to sell hearing aids.

Australia's consumer watchdog released a report today outlining issues with sales techniques in the hearing services industry, suggesting clinicians needs overshadow those of the consumer.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is concerned about a range of business practices, particularly incentive-based tactics and commissions, which are commonly used to drive sales.

These issues stem from a survey of 85 consumers and industry members. Additionally, the ACCC spoke with the 10 largest hearing clinic operators for clarification in regards to their sales practices.

There were two other areas of concern: cost and performance and treatment of vulnerable consumers.

Hearing aids can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 per pair and the survey found that a number of consumers were dissatisfied with the performance of these devices across the various price points.

"Some hearing clinics encourage clinicians to sell more expensive hearing aids by setting sales targets, paying commissions to clinicians, having arrangements that favour certain brands or are owned by companies that manufacture hearing aids," ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

The study also found consumers were often vulnerable to persistent sales techniques as a result of their age, disability, hearing impairment, economic situation or a combination of these factors.

The ACCC advised hearing clinics to review their performance and incentive structures so there is no conflict between doing what's right for the consumer and what generates the best return for the clinician.

Need a hearing aid and have private health insurance? Find out what portion of costs you're covered for.

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