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The Case of the Overbearing Optician

This rep isn’t sure if this account is worth the trouble.




JESSE, A FRAME rep who is pioneering her territory with an exciting frame brand, was commuting to an appointment at an optometry clinic and decided to call her sales manager during her drive.

Her manager picked up, “Hi Owen, I’m on my way to an appointment five hours away so I thought I’d call to troubleshoot,” Jesse said.


Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.


Carissa Dunphy has been working in private practice optometry since 2008 and is the founder of Optician Now ( Follow Carissa on Instagram and Facebook at @opticiannow.

“Anytime, whatcha got?” Owen responded.

“I’m going to Brookside Vision Clinic, who sought us out at Vision Expo. They were insanely excited to carry our brand but their office is quite rural and fell within no territory of ours. I totally hit it off with their optician so I made an exception to take on their account, which pleased her. My experience as an optician proved vital through that process.” Jesse shared, “They got some promos for free frames and free shipping, which made them even happier, and their sell-through has been fantastic.”


“Well that sounds great, so what’s the problem?!” Owen asked.

“Remember a few months ago when we got the awesome new POP? I knew this office would absolutely love it so I stopped in to drop it off when I happened to be visiting some family nearby. The main optician/buyer was clearly bothered that I came in without an appointment. I said I didn’t need any of her time and that I would just drop off the new POP in the lunchroom and be on my way.” Jesse continued, “The optician then said that since I was there I should give her an RA for the defective frames. Even though I knew there would be no order I told her I’d get her an RA. I looked at the four frames and only one was truly defective. One was chewed, one was clearly overheated by the optician and one had glue all over it yet I could not find that it was broken anywhere. I told her that three of the four frames were not warrantable but this one time I would get them on the RA and home office would ultimately make the decision.”

Owen responded, “It sounds like you’re not done yet.”

“Nope.” Jesse sighed, “After that she asked me to comp her a few frames for her friends!”

“That is many flags. Tell me again why you opted to take on this account…” Owen replied.

“Maybe I’m reading into it,” Jesse said, “Maybe when I get there this worry will all have been for nothing but I emailed her a few days ago to confirm our appointment, because it’s such a far drive, and she replied and said how excited she is for our visit and to see the new frames I have.”

“Go in like none of this matters. She wants new frames!” Owen concluded, “Give me a buzz after the appointment and tell me how everything went fine.”

Jesse continued on her long drive and tried not  to overthink it. When she arrived at Brookside Vision Clinic she unloaded her bags, walked into the office and greeted the receptionist, who told her the optician who confirmed their appointment was not in today.

The Big Questions

  • Are high sales of her frame line worth continuing to deal with this optician? Should she ask to work with someone else in the office?
  • Does she bring this up with the optician and hope they can get past it?
  • At what point should the rude and unprofessional behavior result in severing the relationship?
Jeri G.
Peoria, IL

Cut bait now!

Justin T.
Pittsfield, MA

We’ve all had folks that we just don’t see eye-to-eye with (pun intended). In my opinion, business is business. If a product has great sell-through and/or high demand from your patients, it deserves a spot on the boards. If you really can’t stand the rep (or vice versa), it’s OK. I’d even encourage you to ask to deal with someone else in the organization. The patient’s happiness, and the success of your business, almost always come before your own personal feelings. Almost always.

Pam R.
Canton, MI

I would politely explain how I made an exception to do business with them. That you need to follow the same rules most frame reps do in regard to warranty and comped frames. Although you love doing business with them, you can understand if they no longer want to carry your line. Going forward, if they decide to continue to carry the line they will know what to expect.

Rick R.
Girard, PA 

Hell no, it’s not worth it. And who else would she deal with?
I say she needs to end the relationship now.
When she is back in her car, email the account and terminate.

Mikki C.
Seattle, WA

If it is a high grossing account then it is worth keeping, however many boundaries have been crossed in this situation. I would be very clear on policies to include warranties, comped frames, and commitment to appointments before moving forward. Opticians need to respect a rep’s time. Many believe we make a lot of money and most of the time, that is not the case. A lot of reps are 1099 and pay out of pocket for travel, gas, etc. One missed appointment can really affect a rep’s entire month.

Have an open conversation about it.
If the account does not honor the boundaries discussed and continues unprofessional behavior, it is acceptable to discontinue business with them.

Jessica A.
Portland, OR

Although for me I know it would be hard because I’m a people pleaser, I think after the third strike it would be time to talk to the owner. If this optician is doing it to one rep, they are probably treating other reps the same way and it’s hurting the business. Once you open an account with someone or a particular brand you become partners and if one isn’t meeting the other in the middle, the relationship will fail.

Jolan R.
Roanoke, VA

Driving is more expensive than ever, especially considering the luggage frame reps have to carry. During the summer months, the heat in your car alone can damage your inventory.

If the home office is going to ultimately be involved in making final decisions with a difficult person anyhow, I would see if this could be considered a house account for the rural nature and set appointments way in advance, but only travel to the customer bi-annually to take better care of the customer and save on gas and expenses and the general headache. Most people do not deal well with confrontation so even if the rep brings this up and handles herself gracefully, she still risks losing business and having to deal with missed appointments. Many optical managers are passive aggressive this way when dealing with reps. Opticians have the upper hand these days because they are few and far between.

Amie R.
Spring Hill, TN

Whoa! That is just rude! I am big on reps having appointments, but when one is stopping by out of kindness we are always appreciative. Comping frames for non-employee friends, that’s a hard negative. Professionalism dictates that the rep has an open conversation with the optician — by phone or zoom is fine. If that does not fix the situation, the next step is to let the account fade away.

Gracanne Z.
Woods Hole, MA

Wow! First of all, after being in the business for 30 years myself, this is real. You have to value your worth and time.

Insist on taking an inventory and pointing out and replenishing sold frames is a given. Then promote any promos that are running and insist/assume that you will expect an order for your time. This customer has to uphold being a dealer for your brand. Offer two options: i.e., 15-piece or 30-piece order. Take charge and be diplomatic. You confirmed and drove five hours.

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