Here's what readers are saying so far.

In our latest Real Deal scenario, Fran, a frame buyer for Eye Contact Optical Boutique, sourced a few discount ophthalmic frames from a department store. They've been selling well in the boutique, where they're offered as a sale item without a warranty.

Clearly there's a demand for this price point, conservative frame style and brand recognition, and Fran is now considering traveling to the same department store in other towns to buy more frames.

But now she's starting to encounter some consumer backlash.

As one customer said, "That seems deceptive. Why should we buy something from you that we can easily buy ourselves, and probably for less money?"

Several questions now arise:

  • Is it unethical for an optical to sell ophthalmic frames found in a retail environment? Where does this retail environment extend to — eBay, Etsy, estate sales?
  • Would you consider providing discounted frames to patients without a warranty? How can this help or hurt your business?
  • Is there anything Fran can do or say to this patient to retain a sale?

We'd love to hear what you think. Check out the full scenario and send us your own response here.

Below is a sampling of the responses we've received so far.

Rick R.
Girard, PA 

I don't think it's unethical unless you're trying to deceive your patient. I've never seen ophthalmic frames other than online.

I've sold discontinued frames, without a warranty, but with the understanding that if the frame breaks or is defective, we will do everything to find a replacement at a discounted cost.

Fran could inform the patient they could easily buy a frame and bring it in for lenses but her office cannot be held responsible for any breakage. All frames are bought for less and sold at a profit, that's just business.

Cindy H.
Chattanooga, TN 

Buying frames in that environment and from questionable entities can create issues because the frames might not be cleared for U.S. use and sales. Large companies allow some frames to be sold out of the United States with the condition that they won't be sold here. This is true of lenses as well. Not necessarily "knock offs" they may not be of the same quality that U.S. standards require. Without knowing the source of origin, one should really hesitate to buy and resell them, even from a discount retailer. Their buyers wouldn't know or care if the frames weren't up to code.

P.S. The sales clerk is an idiot.

Monique B.
Manchester, CT

That’s a toughie. I personally would find a wholesaler that sells really cute frames that are not in a nearby store. Worst case, patients could see Fran regularly making trips to this ‘Max Goods’ store. Not a good look.

Fran could be more resourceful. There definitely is a market for that type of product.

Mary N.
Toledo, OH

I would never buy ophthalmic frames from a retail store (not optical) and would never buy the same brands that the consumer could find there. I do buy disc frames from sales reps and offer lower-priced good-quality frames without a warranty. This is a great way to get the consumer out of cheap frames, and we have better frames to adjust and work with.

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Optometric Practice in a Small Town

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