Online eyeglass sales are rising due to low cost bolstered by the free services provided by local opticals. The fault is our own. More than other industries, we provide services for free in hope of a future purchase. It’s devalued what we do.
Many years ago at my office in a major mall, I noticed a man do a double take as he passed our door. “Oh, an eyeglass place,” he said as he flung his old glasses at me and said “Here, adjust them.” This was a high-end optical and this guy would be the last person who would ever buy anything from us. Irritated by his rudeness, I told him it would be my pleasure to adjust his glasses for a $10 charge. He abruptly pulled them from my hand and left. This man had come to know this as a free service without value provided by any “eyeglass place” he passed. How dare I ask for a small fee for a service that required a great investment in training, equipment and overhead? Our industry must stop this practice which makes online optical sales possible.
"It would be unthinkable to walk into an auto shop with oil and filter in hand asking for a free change. And yet people do this all the time in our industry.”
My optician recently served a patient who came to us with several pairs of eyeglasses bought online. She wanted them all adjusted, as well as the lenses switched between two frames. He charged a fee for this, but in my opinion, he enabled the online seller. It would have been better if he told her we only service frames we sell. If we damage your frame, we can replace it which we cannot do with your online glasses. If we don’t provide such services to these online patrons, they may think twice when they’re stuck with unusable glasses.
My son is an automotive enthusiast who orders tires online. Of course, these tires need to be mounted and balanced locally. What if no tire store would do this? There would be no online tire sales. It would be unthinkable to walk into an auto shop with oil and filter in hand asking for a free change. And yet people do this all the time in our industry. We need to retrain the public that optical services have a value and this cost is built into the your optical purchase. Buyer beware when it comes to online glasses. You were on your own when you bought them and will remain so when you receive them.
Dr. Sheldon H. Kreda, OD, is a graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and is in private practice in Lauderhill, FL, with an emphasis on medical optometry and specialty contact lenses. You can visit his practice at eyerx.net.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 edition of INVISION.