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The Big survey

ECPs’ Top 10 Peeves in Dealing With Vendors — Ranked!

‘Don’t keep telling me it’s going to be available in two weeks!’ and other complaints eyecare biz owners passed on while taking our Big Survey.

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WE WANT TO state upfront that the hundreds of ECPs who took INVISION’s 2021 Big Survey were at pains to shout out the many ways that individual frame reps have helped them during the pandemic, from filling in for missing opticians to literally driving through blizzards to get a particular frame to a needy patient. But we also took the opportunity to let our pandemic-fatigued business owners and managers vent a little and, well… they did. We’ve ranked the 10 most common types of complaints our hundreds of respondents registered with the Big Survey when it comes to dealing with vendors. Here we count them down to the most frequently cited, with some of our favorite examples of each.

10. Inconsistent or Unreliable Info

  • “Saying one thing and doing another.”
  • “Inconsistency of information given from person to person within the company.”
  • “Sales staff turnover.”
  • “Dishonesty.”
  • “Over promising, Under delivering.”

9. Minimums/Punitive Quotas

  • “I could do without the minimum purchases per year, especially if they aren’t introducing enough new styles. You want me to keep 36 of something but you’re showing me the same styles all year.”
  • “Annual frame minimums, paired with exchange ‘expiry dates’ on frames we previously purchased. It seems like people are setting up the system now to trap us with their inferior products.”

8. Pushy/Fake Salespeople

  • “Schmarminess.”
  • “CL reps trying to change our prescribing habits.”
  • “Calling me every other week! I run a short-staffed office and calling me to see if I want to order some product takes valuable time I should be helping patients with.”

7. Frame Board Blues

  • “When the original sale is more important than keeping current stock on the boards.”
  • “Knowing more about brands/options/promos than the sales reps do.”
  • “Discontinued product that has not been pulled from my board.”
  • “Vendors who do not know their inventory; they suggest a great frame to only find out a few days later that its discontinued or backordered.”

6. Shipping Costs

  • “Having to pay large shipping fees to return defective frames.”
  • “Exorbitant shipping fees!”
  • “Shipping fees and tariff charges make the cost of the frames more than the buying group discount we get with some vendors.”
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5. Padded Orders

  • “Shipping out frames that we did not order just for us to ‘see.’”
  • “Their only care is maximizing sales. It is unbelievable how many reps we have thrown out for padding orders recently.”
  • “The constant need to make sure they do not send more product then we asked for.”

4. Surprise!

  • “Cold calling me. At least give me a heads up you’re coming.”
  • “Just come in without calling or making an appointment. Stand in the way of customers trying to pick out glasses.”
  • “They just show up at lunch time.”
  • “Reps that show up with no appointment in the middle of the day and want the doctor to just “talk for a minute” Nope not gonna happen.”

3. Shoddy Customer Service

  • “Apathy from customer service reps.”
    “Rude customer service.”
  • “When customer service can’t give a straight story.”
  • “Reps being MIA between visits, especially when we have questions or concerns.”

2. Warranties/Terms of Exchange

  • “Some warranties are like a jigsaw puzzle! Some reps hate to take back product; then next time they come, it’s too far gone to exchange.”
  • “Not exchanging frames 2+ years old. We’re in a pandmic here!”
  • “Not respecting exchange terms and making excuses not to take items back.”
  • “Not honoring warranties with discontinued eyewear, even though eyewear was less than a year old.”
  • “It was simple when the frame rep would come into the office and they would take back our defective frames. Now we as the consumer have to jump through hoops to send them back for credit.”

1. Back Orders

  • “Backorders with frames really causes patients to be dissatisfied.”
  • “Vague backorders. If you can give me a date you will have the product, great. But don’t keep telling me it is going to be available in 2 weeks.”
  • “No communication when dealing with backordered product.”
  • “No notification of an item going on backorder AFTER I purchase it, causing an unknown delay without notice.”

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between September and October, attracting almost 400 anonymous responses from owners of vision business across the United States. The full results are published in the November-December issue of INVISION.

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After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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