Today has been one of those days where we had customers given bad information by other optical shops or misleading information on their website. So I thought I'd take the time to write about it.
First, local optical shops and doctors don't like you buying online. It is obvious why, the local shop isn't getting the business. So what do they do? Tell you lies to scare you into not purchasing online. There are two things that these bad local optical shops don't get. First, most customers aren't that stupid. They usually will get a 2nd opinion just like you would get if a doctor told you something couldn't be fixed or cured. This just makes their company look bad in the future. If the customer needed something done locally like bifocals, progressives, contacts, etc. all of which we don't do online, they now will go elsewhere. So instead of just losing the one sale of sports goggles (which most local places have a poor selection of anyways--thus the reason the customer went online), they lose a customer for life. Our goal is to be as honest as possible, even if that means us losing the sale.
This is why we don't offer progressives or bifocals online and suggest that you only do this locally. They need to be properly measured and we know we can't do online and give you the best product for you needs. We could easily just use a "standard" fitting height as many online dealers do. But what may end up happening is that you either have to hold your head at an unnatural position or you won't be getting your right prescription in the lens (looking above or below the right power for distance). And that doesn't serve you as the customer. It serves only the pocketbook of the seller.
The second thing we see a lot in the industry is online dealers giving misleading information to tempt you to order at a lower price point. We try to be very upfront. We have reasonable prices for high quality products. We don't offer you lower price points for crappy lenses and then try to "upgrade" you to the better quality lens. Again, these online dealers think that you are more apt to purchase from them if they offer the lowest price possible. But again, customers aren't that stupid. Most people know like with all goods and services, that you get what you pay for. So most customers will research why the price is so much lower than others. What they will find out is they are mass produced lenses, usually from China with poor optical quality loaded with a bunch of distortion. Again, these online dealers don't understand that when the customer gets the product home, they will be disappointed and thus will both never buy from them again, or may just demand a refund. So now you made that sale, but where is that next sale coming from? Don't get me wrong, there are customers who just want the cheapest price. And that is fine. But if you want quality, pick a company that tells you that you are getting a high quality, major name brand lens. We use Essilor, Zeiss, and Hoya most often, with some other brands here and there for specialty lenses. We don't use any low grade lenses just to lure you in with a low price. Just be leery that after you purchase, they may be contacting you to upgrade telling you what you bought is low grade and you really need the higher grade lens. We don't try to upsell you after you order. We only offer you one grade of lens--high quality.
I had a customer show me an article in the local newspaper about an online optical company who thrived on his bad publicity. The bad service and bad product created so much bad publicity, it was making him rank high online with all the links to him. Basically, the owner stated in the article that as long as his bad service gave him free publicity and high sales, he would continue to offer poor service and poor quality because he only cared about his bottom line. Shameful, but that is what happens when buyers don't research the companies they buy from. Since reading that article, I have started reading testimonials and online reviews of a company before I make any major purchases in my life. And I understand that you can't please everyone all of the time. So even if a company has one or two bad reviews but the company took the time to respond and give a reasonable explanation or resolution, I know it is a quality company.
You'll find that companies offering the same quality lenses will often be about the same price. Our costs are all about the same and we need the same margins to stay in business. (also see our blog post on Transition lenses--another misleading thing companies do is offer you older generations of Transitions so they can give you a better price--but what you are paying for is outdated technology).
So if there is just a few dollars difference in price, go with the company that you know will take care of you now and in the future. We've been around for 15 years now and there is a reason.
Until next time,
Shannen Knight, ABO Optician