Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Does the chewing gum loose it's flavor...

...on the bedpost overnight?
That photo there is of 2 similarly overpriced pieces of nightstand hardware. Well maybe the 1911 isn't that overpriced but the hearing aides are ridiculously overpriced. The hearing aid industry has to be one of the greatest "Guild type" scams currently being perpetrated on the public. You have to buy from a closed loop of "certified" technicians. The industry is dominated by a few large suppliers and the pricing power they maintain results in insane cost to the consumer.

On the other hand, the pistol price is pretty much driven by open market simple supply and demand. Demand remains high for the classic John Browning design (nearly 100 years later) and so prices continue to stay high.

Each of those hearing aides is made up of a few dollars of electronics (max!) and a dollar or so of molded plastic and elastomer and has very little touch labor. What there is of touch labor is relatively cheap/low skilled assembly line labor. I'd be surprised if there's more than $20 in each aid (parts and conversion cost). Add to that an hour or two labor by a skilled hearing aid tech for individual customer testing, fitting and programming. Add it all up and they retail for $1500 -- EACH! I'll be lucky if they last a year or two before failing. At least this pair has a better warranty than the 3 pairs I've gone through since 2001.

That's just a guess on my part but I should be a pretty good guesser in this area. Professionally I've helped source electronic parts for nigh on 20 years and have been involved in sourcing injected molded parts. At one time I was something of a specialist in molded elastomeric parts (having written my employer's elastomeric keypad qualification and reliability document and qualifying some of our earliest keypad suppliers in Taiwan and Mainland China).

By way of contrast, the Springfield Armory "loaded" US Government Model of 1911 has in it 10's of dollars of material and a hundred dollars or so of machining and hand finishing and sold for just north of $500 when I bought it 6-7 years ago. Today that model retails around (i think) $800.

Compare that to the hearing aides and I'll let you guess what I'd rather have spent $3000 vs $800 on.

Now if I could only figure out where my hearing went...

It's down >40dB down through the midrange so hearing aides are an all day thing for me. Can’t think why…
Nothing to do with sitting next to the drum riser running lights and effects for a dance/rock band in the 70’s, shooting unprotected many days as a kid and left with ringing ears for 48 hours, troubleshooting & launching a/c on the roof of a carrier or 500+ hours radar time sitting between 2 T-56’s.

Nah, just bad genes.

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