In the wake of the tragic Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, numerous businesses that offered discounts to National Rifle Association (NRA) members have come under scrutiny. After mounting pressure from consumers and advocacy groups, much of it posted on social media, more than a dozen companies have decided to end NRA member discount programs for their products.
The growing number of the companies listed on the NRA’s website cutting ties with the organization now includes Starkey Hearing Technologies. Several companies that offer discounts to NRA members began to feel pressure to sever those ties shortly after the massacre. As the pressure built last week, many hearing care professionals voiced their opinion about Starkey’s association with the NRA, with much of the social media chatter being very critical of their relationship with the organization.
On Saturday, February 24 via social media, Starkey issued the following statement:
“We have made a decision to not renew our discount program with the NRA. We will be asking them to remove our information from their website. Our focus remains on bringing better hearing to people around the world in partnership with hearing professionals.”
While the NRA blasted the growing list of major companies (including United Airlines, MetLife, Hertz, and others) cutting ties with the organization as “cowardice“, the response to Starkey ending their relationship was met with praise by many on social media after the announcement.
Because it is a highly political and controversial issue, however, not everyone was pleased with the move and NRA supporters also went to social media to share their opinions on Starkey’s decision to end the program.
The timing of the negative publicity for Starkey comes as an inopportune moment. The company has been the center of a very public $20 million fraud trial involving several former executives. Defense attorneys for the four accused former executives have countered that Starkey’s founder, Bill Austin, has known about the alleged illegal activity for years, including the accusations of unscrupulous behavior by their current president.
An email request for comment by Hearing News Watch to Starkey regarding their relationship with the NRA was not returned.