Starkey Caught Red-Handed Selling In Costco: UPDATED

Does Starkey owner Bill Austin believe the media and his customers are stoopid, and expect that we at The Hearing Blog would not uncover his selling Starkey brand hearing aids at the 10 Costco stores in South Korea? Yes, he asked Costco to scrub it from their website; but one of our loyal readers actually went into one of the stores and supplied us with the photographic evidence. What’s more, by selling custom products this proves Austin can’t say “well, it’s a distributor we can’t control” — We caught them red-handed with the goods.

Here is the printed brochure

Here is the printed brochure

June 26th 2015 Update: One of our South Korean readers we asked to investigate wrote us the following:

I went to ILSAN Costco’s hearing aid center. And I asked an employee who works in a hearing aid center about Starkey brand. She told me that they don’t sell Starkey brand anymore because of margin and hearing aid problems. I didn’t asked what kind of problems… I hope it helps to you. And I tried to take a picture but a security was watching me. So I couldn’t take a pic.

March 31st 2015 Update: We received a third conformation Starkey was selling in South Korea Costco stores through at least May 5th 2014: More here.

Last April after the market explosion when Phonak decided to sell their premium hearing aids in Costco, Starkey owner Bill Austin huffed and puffed that he would never sell in Costco. However, we soon had reports that in fact he was (quelle surprise!) bullsh*tting, as we had two reports of them selling their wares in the 10 Costco dispensing locations in South Korea. However, we didn’t have all the evidence until tonight, when we received the photo evidence to go along with the earlier scan of a 2012 brochure.

No wonder Starkey is Not Exhibiting here in San Antonio at AudiologyNow

Here are the Starkey standard instruments sold in the Costco South Korean stores
Click to enlarge in a new window


Here are the Starkey custom instruments sold in the Costco South Korean stores
Click to enlarge in a new window


Here is the Costco brochure from 2012 showing Starkey Starkey standard instruments sold in the Costco South Korean storesClick to enlarge in a new window

Here is the Costco brochure from 2012 showing Starkey was being sold three years ago in the Costco South Korean stores
Click to enlarge in a new window

← ReSound Prostrates Itself Offering The LiNX On The Costco Altar, Ignoring Phonak's Mis-Step One Year Ago Three 60 Minute Free Webinars On FM ALD's You Must Watch →

About the author

Dan Schwartz

Electrical Engineer, via Georgia Tech


  1. David Rich
    March 27, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Frankly Dan, I do not care if Austin/Starkey sells hearing aids in South Korea. To my knowledge, none of my market go there to shop. Austin is a shrewd businessman. Frankly, I do not like him personally, but I do respect that he has developed a giant of a company in this industry. FYI, “stooped” is spelled “stupid”. Your are very tech savvy, so do not forget to use your spell check.

    • Anonymous McAudstudent
      March 31, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      I mean, if you’re going to knock how Dan spells things, at least quote him correctly…

  2. Susan L Fenrich
    March 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Wow, this is interesting to say the least. I hope this isn’t an experiment to see how things go over there and then if successful start doing the same thing same here. As long as he stays out of Costco in USA we are good. He should have been truthful about it though. This is disappointing. Knowing Mr Austin for over 30 years and knowing what he has done for so many, I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very smart man that has done a lot of good for our industry.

    I would like to know why the industry just doesn’t lower the prices to everyone so we can all sell more hearing aids. How many sets of hearing aids can people buy when we continue to take thousands out of their retirement? These costs are truly insane. I would live to sell a hearing aid for $459.00 again!

  3. John
    March 28, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Your reporting seems credible given your digital footprint on emotional intelligence…

    “Guess what bitch? You’re so fucked ’cause you’ll soon be deaf as your parents!” -Dan Schwartz 2013

    “Besides Marlee Matlin, name ONE succesful deaf person” -Dan Schwartz 2013

  4. John Zeigler
    March 29, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    form a GPO like 98% of USA Hospitals do. What you want is not to beg for prices by have the power to demand lower parity like pricing. A GPO is more legal, more transparent and more fair than what is available today. Go to and read and firm your own opinion. Call me emailJZ and I will contact you to answer any questions. Go to LinkedIn for my profile posts. John Zeigler AuD

  5. sylvia
    June 24, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Brilliant reporting.
    Susan I would like to say as an 80 years old women ! wearing aids and BUYING HEARING AIDS !! IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING I HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH IN MY LIFE.
    Price is shocking!
    Other friends are buying a car for what I need to pay for ear aids.
    Sylvia Australia.

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