In order to answer this question, we first have to start with who Miracle Ear really is.
Miracle Ear is really more of a brand and a franchise network than it is a manufacturer. Miracle Ear is owned by Amplifon, an Italian Headquartered multinational publicly traded corporation. Miracle Ear dealers in the US are either locations owned by Amplifon, or privately owned dealerships that are basically paying a franchise fee and have agreed to sell Miracle Ear branded products either exclusively, or nearly exclusively. Amplifon has 17,500 employees worldwide as of the date of this article, operates in 26 countries, and has 11,400 points of sale globally.
Miracle Ear Hearing Aids
It’s common industry knowledge that Miracle Ear hearing aids are a “private label” version of hearing aids produced by Signia- a hearing aid manufacturer that was once Siemens Hearing Solutions- prior to Siemens divesting it’s hearing aid division a few years ago. If you take a look at the Signia website and compare the images of products on the Miracle Ear website, you’ll notice that the product images are typically not just similar, but identical- with the branding on the instruments and the accessories for them switched out from Signia to Miracle Ear.
“Private Label” or “White Label” manufacturing is somewhat commonplace in the hearing aid industry. This occurs when a retailer or distributor does enough volume with a manufacturer that they can effectively buy their own runs of manufacturing for the product. It is not inherently “good” or “bad”. It’s simply a method of doing business.
There are several reasons why private labelling is advantageous at time to both the dealer and the manufacturer. It’s especially common in hearing aid dealer networks with exclusive territories. The reason for this is that if the instrument is labeled with a name that can only be found at a dealer in that network- so consumers find it impossible to compare services or pricing once they have decided that an instrument with a particular private label brand name is what they need. No matter who they call or where they go- no one can sell that hearing aid but a dealer in that network.
Furthermore, private label instruments often have a “private label lock” in the chip of the device that will not allow anyone outside of that particular dealer network to adjust the programming or output on the device. This is another way of keeping the patient captive to the dealer network…. if no one else can work on the instrument, you can’t choose a provider that you prefer over the one that sold you the device. And if you move? Well, you had better hope there is someone in that dealer network that you like working with near your new home.
So, are they any good?
Well, maybe not.
Here’s my take:
First off, Signia is a solid manufacturer with a variety of great products. They have a unique approach to design and how hearing aids fit into the lifestyle, and even overall style, of the user. They are a great choice for some users. Like all hearing instrument manufacturers, though- they aren’t the best choice for EVERY user.
The important thing here is that you make an informed decision. Now that you know that Miracle ear hearing aids are produced by Signia, if you really have your heart set on the Miracle Ear product, it might be best to check around the local practices in your area (we’d love it if you checked with us in Wichita Falls).
If a local practice seems more competent, or has a more attractive price on a Signia product, that might make more sense for you. Signia products are not locked by the private label constraints of Miracle Ear devices, so they can be adjusted by any qualified professional.
Also, keep in mind that a Miracle Ear dealership will typically only be able to dispense products in the Miracle Ear portfolio- which means that your choices will likely be limited to a private labeled Signia product. Many great professionals work for this organization, but their hands are very much tied in terms of solutions they can offer for your hearing loss.
Don’t get me wrong, they can fit you with whatever product you need…. as long as that product is a Miracle Ear product… which means you are typically limited to a single manufacturer.
However, an independent private practice like Wichita Falls Hearing will usually be able to offer products from multiple manufacturers to suit your needs. Truth be told, each manufacturer of hearing instruments has their strengths and weaknesses- we feel it’s important that we select your hearing aids based on your needs and your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a Miracle Ear product, we’d be happy to give you a price quote on the equivalent Signia product. Most patients who ask us for a price on the equivalent instrument tell us we were able to save them 30-40% on the treatment of their hearing loss- all while doing it with true expertise and attention to their experience.
Probably because we don’t have 17,500 employees worldwide. We have 4, and they are all right here in Wichita Falls. Everyone in the company sees you at the grocery store and around town. We’re your neighbors. Wichita Falls isn’t just one of 1,100 locations for us. It’s our only focus. We also feel a true duty to serve the community we live in, and take that commitment seriously.
I would doubt an Italian Corporation feels the same way about the people of Texoma that we do.
But hey- I guess I could be wrong….
Dusty Potter- BC-HIS
Owner- Wichita Falls Hearing, LLC