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.
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 GBP1,583 and GBP2,882 for a pair.
But, our research shows that for one company, 10% of its customers paid in excess of GBP5,000.
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.
The budget-friendly Silvercrest beard trimmer and rotary shaver are available in store at Lidl now, for as long as stocks last. Could they be the best personal care bargains around? It’s not the first time Lidl has launched budget-friendly personal care products. In September 2017 we took a first look at the Lidl Sanitas SBF 70 Bluetooth Diagnostic Scale, and at the start of this year it released the Silvercrest Personal Care Activity Tracker.
These low-cost grooming tools are among the cheapest you’ll find, but how do they compare with other beard trimmers and shavers in terms of features?
What is the Silvercrest rotary shaver?
We’ve tested budget electric shavers before, but at GBP19.99 this is among the cheapest we’ve seen. The specs on the Silvercrest rotary shaver include:
- Rotary cutting head Rotary shavers have three circular heads that rotate to lift and then cut stubble.
- Beard and sideburn styler and nose and ear trimmer You get two additional attachable heads, one for tidying up your sideburns or moustache and another for clearing hairs from the ears and nostrils. These aren’t commonly included accessories, especially not with budget models, so it’s a nice addition.
- Detachable, waterproof cutting head The shaving head can be removed and held under running water for simpler cleaning.
- 60 minutes’ claimed battery operating time This is a decent amount of time for an electric shaver, and it would be up there among the better models we’ve seen if it can actually hold its for charge that long.
- Also in the box A charging base, micro-USB charger, cleaning brush, shaving head cover to help protect the blades and a travel pouch.
If you want to see how those specs match up against electric shavers from brands that are more well known, including the GBP208 Braun Series 9 9290cc, make sure you check out all of our electric shaver reviews. 
What is the Silvercrest beard trimmer?
This is a slightly more expensive and advanced trimmer than the GBP10 beard trimmer Lidl we reviewed back in January.
But at GBP22.99 this beard trimmer is still some way cheaper than its big-name brand rivals. The specs on the latest Silvercrest beard trimmer include:
- Titanium-coated cutting head that can be removed for cleaning Titanium-coated cutting heads are claimed to be stronger and stay sharper for longer than standard stainless steel ones. A removable head is a useful function that should make cleaning a bit easier.
- LED screen showing length settings This is a handy ease-of-use function that should make picking the correct length for your beard or hair trim a lot simpler.
It’s usually reserved for high-end beard trimmers, so it is a surprise inclusion to this lower-cost model.
- Built in memory function This will remember the last cutting length you set the trimmer to, so you can maintain a consistent style, trim after trim, without having to remember which length you used last time.
- Three detachable combs for 55 cutting lengths ranging from 1.5 to 41mm This is a massive range of cutting lengths, and with a maximum of 41mm it offers more options for those sporting slightly longer beards, which you won’t find in very many beard trimmers.
- 60 minutes’ claimed battery operating time This is comparable to most of the beard trimmers we’ve seen recently.
In the box you’ll also get a cleaning brush, oil for lubricating the blades, a micro-USB charging cable and a travel pouch.
- ^ Lidl Sanitas SBF 70 Bluetooth Diagnostic Scale (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Silvercrest Personal Care Activity Tracker (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Braun Series 9 9290cc (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ electric shaver reviews (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ GBP10 beard trimmer Lidl we reviewed back in January (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ beard trimmer first look reviews (www.which.co.uk)
There are stacks of products out there that claim to ease your cold and flu symptoms, but not all of them are what they’re cracked up to be. Here’s three that we think you should leave on the shelf.
1. Double action painkillers
These typically combine two common painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen) into one tablet, with famous double action painkiller brands including Nuromol and Combogesic.
Manufacturers claim that by combining both in one tablet, their double action pills can be more effective in relieving pain (up to 30%, according to Combogesic). But you pay a high price for the convenience of a two-in-one tablet. The cheapest product will set you back GBP3.99 compared with paracetamol and ibuprofen sold separately which can cost as low as 44p, almost nine times less than the cheapest combined product.
Find out more about choosing the most effective painkillers in our guide: best painkillers: paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen?
2. Vitamin C supplements
Vitamin C supplements have long been a popular choice for people who are experiencing symptoms related to a cold or the flu. This has prompted a raft of vitamin C-only products hitting the market that claim to help prevent or cut short your cold.
However, studies have been unable to trace a strong enough link to suggest that a big increase in Vitamin C does anything to help combat cold and flu symptoms. ‘Megadoses’ of more than 1000mg, which is 25 times higher than your recommended daily allowance of 40mg have been shown to have negative side effects, with the NHS warning that negative symptoms such as stomach pain and diarrhoea. There are much tastier alternatives such as pineapples and oranges, which will be sure to give you all the vitamin C you need.
Echinacea is a plant that has been used as a traditional herbal remedy that’s claimed to help various health conditions. In recent years, there has been a surge of echinacea-based products that claim to help relieve our cold and flu symptoms. However, most clinical studies have shown echinacea to have very little benefit in treating cold and flu symptoms, with a lot of perceived benefits being down to a simple placebo effect.
Herbal remedies such as echinacea have also been shown to cause side effects for some people such as headaches, dizziness or, in children, skin rashes. This has led to some concerned organisations, like the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issuing advice not give echinacea to children younger than 12 years old, and extending this recommendation to adults who have a cold.
How to find the best remedies for your cold or flu
Follow these tips when scrutinising over-the-counter remedies in a pharmacy:
- Ask the pharmacist to explain the risks and benefits of products, or to suggest alternatives.
- Check on the packaging what the key active ingredients are, and if other products do the same for a cheaperprice. This also means you won’t buy multiple products that look different, but are in effect exactly the same.
- Look for cheaper versions of the same medicine.
Each medicine product in a pharmacy has a marketing authorisation (‘product licence’ or ‘PL’) number. If this is the same on two products, they are the same medicine. This is an especially handy tactic when comparing branded and own-brand medicines.
- Double-check the full ingredients list, especially if you’re on a restricted diet, so you’re aware of extras such as salt and sugar in medicines.
If it’s not stated, ask the customer services of the company or your pharmacist.
- ^ best painkillers: paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen? (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ health products you don’t need (www.which.co.uk)