Shopping for glasses these days is enough to leave anyone in a daze. You have to navigate what seems like an endless maze of choices. There are often thousands of different frames and a huge array of different lens types and coatings. When you multiply this by all the places you can get your eyeglasses, it gets complicated quickly. Many of these places even offer eyeglasses in an hour for the time crunched buyer. But, is that really a luxury that you need to pay for? In our opinion it isn’t, and we’ve found that many shoppers spend way too much for this minor perk. In most cases, you will overpay for this service, and cost is the biggest complaint that most of our readers have voiced.
In fact, Consumer Reports recently surveyed almost 100,000 glasses shoppers, and although 2/3 of shoppers were satisfied with there purchase, around half were satisfied with the price they paid. This is a disturbing trend that has grown in the past few years. With the recent increase in large stores offering eyeglasses in an hour, this satisfaction seems to be going down. All while price goes up of course.
In our study though, we’ve found that it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to get a great deal on your eyeglasses if your willing to stay out of the mall chain one hour eyeglasses places. This will also cut down on some of the sales pressure you’re likely to encounter as you can go shopping armed with what you want (and more importantly, what you need) already decided. Before heading out to your eye doctor’s office, it would be a good idea to at least be familiar with some of the different lenses, coatings, and edge treatments so you aren’t bowled over with the many choices.
This knowledge will also give you a starting point for asking your what you should look for to ensure that you aren’t sold unnecessary upgrades that you don’t need. For example, many shops will recommend that all glasses wearers opt for additional UV protective coatings or high index polycarbonate lenses, which in most cases aren’t necessary. These options do provide a nice markup for the store though.
Many of the shady chains will also prey on uninformed shoppers pushing them toward much more expensive options such as progressive or “no line” bifocals even if there are other, high quality alternatives that may be less expensive. The best way to combat this is to speak with your doctor before shopping to find out what you actually need. This small step can save you lots of money and frustration. If your eye doctors office includes an eyeglasses shop, feel free to look, but don’t feel as though you have to buy there. Under Federal law, you are allowed to have your spectacles prescription filled anywhere.
On our glasses shopping excursions, we’ve found that the cost of prescription varies dramatically. For example, shopping at a local LensCrafters store had us seeing about double for options available elsewhere. For example, a simple polycarbonate (CR-39) lens cost around $120 before any discounts. This is several times more costly than the same frame at a local Costco store or online from a dealer such as Zenni Optical. We found similar pricing differences more most options and coatings too. For example, if we wanted to upgrade to an anti-reflective coating LensCrafters required us to upgrade to their FeatherWates polycarbonate lens for a whopping $240! As a comparison, a similar lens at online retailer Zenni Optical is a $41.95 upgrade and $80 at our local Costco. This is over a 300% price difference that the average consumer is paying just to get their eyeglasses in an hour. This seems a bit steep for such a small convenience.
This cost difference is only multiplied if you are interested in fashion frames. This can push your costs up by hundreds of dollars. Many of these frames are all made by the same manufacturers though, and the designers just license the frame and put their names on. This means that duplicate frames are available at lots of other shops for significantly less money. Many of the top manufacturers (like Marchon and Safilo) have several options that are just like their fashion counterparts for much less money. This is also a situation where online retailers can save you significant money. These shops carry all the same manufacturers lines, but at significantly discounted prices. Many retailers routinely have specials offering inexpensive acetate frames for $20 or less. In fact, online retailer Optical 4 Less has packages (frames & lenses) starting at only $15! This is an absolute steal for what you get, and a great way to test the waters or get an extra set of glasses to keep as a spare pair. It takes a few days to get your order, but who wouldn’t wait a few days to save $350? We sure would. These are some of the savings available to you if you don’t need eyeglasses in an hour.