Good advice. I think what is happening is that the local "apnea clinics" that sell these products throughout Canada have to bundle in their costs for their consultation into the price of the device otherwise it's not covered by insurance companies. My insurance company only covers $2000 for the initial cost of the device and supplies once every 5 years. Additional supplies are covered (like new tubes or mask) up to $300/year. But they don't cover the costs of any consultation or visits to the clinic/local provider.
I've called a few of the internet suppliers. One supplier also provided local services in Vancouver region (other side of the country from me) -- when I described the discrepancy in Internet price vs. local DME -- they said they weren't surprised because they charge the same for locals that buy the device in their store. That is -- they charge about $2500 in the store for the exact same device they sell on their website for $1100. And they justify it by saying it includes all of their local service and support. If their is a problem with a device, locals get to bring theirs in and get a loaner while theirs gets fixed -- they provide consultation and monitoring of the data, etc.
So, I understand the business model, and why it is this way -- I guess I just don't like it. Nor do I think my local DME is going to provide the additional $1000 through this service.
So, unless they come down in price, I will probably buy online.
Again, thanks to everyone for the advice.
The argument the DME is using is consistent with what many DME’s have used for many years in the U.S. However, as DME’s go out of business in the U.S. because of overcharging their customers for basic services, internet suppliers have provided fair prices and services for CPAP users. If you choose a internet provider wisely, you will receive identical if not better service from them than what you would get in person.
I will disagree with that, from my experience in Canada. I walked into the clinic not knowing much about SA other than I was pretty sure I was afflicted and that I was desperate for help. They educated me, got me setup with appropriate equipment, and helped me be successful with the initial stages of the therapy. I don't see how an on-line equipment seller would have filled that role. Now that I know about this forum and a whole lot more about SA, I don't really need the services they provide. But they do provide a good and useful service and it was worth the $1000 to me. And this $1000 over five years, so $200 a year to have a competent RT tech to ask questions of and have verify things. The DME situation in the US sounds like it is a lot less helpful and useful. It does not have to be that way.