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High Street Optician Chains Rip Off Exposed £532 Down To £211

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Had a trip to Vision Express last week, and I was shocked at how prices had rocketed since I had last purchased glasses from an independent optician.

Now the last time I went for an eye test, I was told my prescription had changed very little so no new purchase was needed. So the last time I bought specs not sure when but guestimate 2003 they where a pair of light reactive bifocals, and a pair of office glasses because I'm on a PC most of the day with three monitors. Total cost including the eye test was £198. [small town independent, since retired]

Now Vision Expressed tried to push me down the Varifocal route, but in the past two independent opticians, advised because of my prescription and extensive PC use, one pair bifocal and one pair PC monitor distance reading.

Anyway after a 2.5 hours sales consultation, discussing Varifocal and Bi focals, and as I cannot be faffed with sunglasses. I had quotes as outlined below, Bi and Varifocals Light Reactive lenses, Computer, Extra thin lenses, and on both sets of glasses anti scratching, UV, anti glare bla bla.

Prices:

Varifocals premium choice lense in £59 frames = £379

Bifocals in £59 frames = £292

Computer glasses in £59 frames = £240

So my preferred option was going to cost me £532

Anyway I decided to Google opticians, and then I ended up researching a firm called Glasses Direct, a firm set up back in 2004 by a student in a back bedroom. It's won a bucket full of business awards, and now has 70 staff and about to break into the US market. Watch the founders video, listen how the big chains tried to strangle it at birth.

I was very doubtful about buying specs of the web, but your existing specs have your comfort measurements on [bridge and arm length] as well as lense measurements. If you fancy a change of style, but want to see how they will look on your face. You can up load your web cam face photo and try glasses on it [there's more designer frames than Spec Savers stock] you can even try on 4 pairs of frames at home, before you buy if you want. And in any case if your not happy for any reason what's so ever there is a full money back guarantee, or replacement service, your choice.

The website is easy to use, I opted for frames from the "Classical Range" and ordered the Judge frame x 2 [different colours] as it is an exact replica of my existing glasses [which I like] in style and size. You can even download a full size spec document and print it off, and compare them size wise to your existing specs.

Cost for two pairs of glasses came to £178, I then decided I wanted to possibly change my order, so rang the firm. A customer rep said she would have an optician ring me back, which he did half an our later. He advised me what would be my best options, told me how to take my PD measurement of my existing glasses so I did not need to send my existing glasses in for them to measure. PD is a measurement the big firms don't give you because they know you can then go on-line for them. But even if if you opt to send them in, they are back by return post, recorded delivery . The new cost came to £211 and I could see on-line the spec and price changed in my updated “account†order tracking window.

Now later that night I again visited the website, showing the wife, and a 15% discount, seven day offer window popped up, so I filled in my email address and then received the offer code via email. Rang the firm, said come on, I did not get that offer when I first visited the site that day and ordered. So he looked at my order, and said in this instance he would apply the discount code to my order. Now it ain't changed in my account yet, but I will keep you informed in that regard. That will be another £33 saving. Obviously I'll report back on the actual glasses when I receive them. 10 to 14 days delivery quoted, its all dependent on your prescription with a max of 28 days.

Now with that discount applied it will give me a saving of over £350 against Vision Express quotes.So if your in the market for some specs, its worth giving Glasses Direct a look over, and hurry if you want to take advantage of the 15% discount option. Oh by the way the difference in cost between vari and bifocals is £30

__________________

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Guest Skinty

Went to Vision Express for an eye check-up. Not only did they clearly give me the wrong prescription (-3.75 instead of -2.75) but when asked about the growth covering my right eye-ball the guy said it was perfectly normal. Went off to the doctor who referred me to an eye specialist and it turned out that I needed an operation.

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Had a trip to Vision Express last week, and I was shocked at how prices had rocketed since I had last purchased glasses from an independent optician.

Now the last time I went for an eye test, I was told my prescription had changed very little so no new purchase was needed. So the last time I bought specs not sure when but guestimate 2003 they where a pair of light reactive bifocals, and a pair of office glasses because I'm on a PC most of the day with three monitors. Total cost including the eye test was £198. [small town independent, since retired]

Now Vision Expressed tried to push me down the Varifocal route, but in the past two independent opticians, advised because of my prescription and extensive PC use, one pair bifocal and one pair PC monitor distance reading.

Anyway after a 2.5 hours sales consultation, discussing Varifocal and Bi focals, and as I cannot be faffed with sunglasses. I had quotes as outlined below, Bi and Varifocals Light Reactive lenses, Computer, Extra thin lenses, and on both sets of glasses anti scratching, UV, anti glare bla bla.

Prices:

Varifocals premium choice lense in £59 frames = £379

Bifocals in £59 frames = £292

Computer glasses in £59 frames = £240

So my preferred option was going to cost me £532

Anyway I decided to Google opticians, and then I ended up researching a firm called Glasses Direct, a firm set up back in 2004 by a student in a back bedroom. It's won a bucket full of business awards, and now has 70 staff and about to break into the US market. Watch the founders video, listen how the big chains tried to strangle it at birth.

I was very doubtful about buying specs of the web, but your existing specs have your comfort measurements on [bridge and arm length] as well as lense measurements. If you fancy a change of style, but want to see how they will look on your face. You can up load your web cam face photo and try glasses on it [there's more designer frames than Spec Savers stock] you can even try on 4 pairs of frames at home, before you buy if you want. And in any case if your not happy for any reason what's so ever there is a full money back guarantee, or replacement service, your choice.

The website is easy to use, I opted for frames from the "Classical Range" and ordered the Judge frame x 2 [different colours] as it is an exact replica of my existing glasses [which I like] in style and size. You can even download a full size spec document and print it off, and compare them size wise to your existing specs.

Cost for two pairs of glasses came to £178, I then decided I wanted to possibly change my order, so rang the firm. A customer rep said she would have an optician ring me back, which he did half an our later. He advised me what would be my best options, told me how to take my PD measurement of my existing glasses so I did not need to send my existing glasses in for them to measure. PD is a measurement the big firms don't give you because they know you can then go on-line for them. But even if if you opt to send them in, they are back by return post, recorded delivery . The new cost came to £211 and I could see on-line the spec and price changed in my updated “account†order tracking window.

Now later that night I again visited the website, showing the wife, and a 15% discount, seven day offer window popped up, so I filled in my email address and then received the offer code via email. Rang the firm, said come on, I did not get that offer when I first visited the site that day and ordered. So he looked at my order, and said in this instance he would apply the discount code to my order. Now it ain't changed in my account yet, but I will keep you informed in that regard. That will be another £33 saving. Obviously I'll report back on the actual glasses when I receive them. 10 to 14 days delivery quoted, its all dependent on your prescription with a max of 28 days.

Now with that discount applied it will give me a saving of over £350 against Vision Express quotes.So if your in the market for some specs, its worth giving Glasses Direct a look over, and hurry if you want to take advantage of the 15% discount option. Oh by the way the difference in cost between vari and bifocals is £30

__________________

How much did glasses direct pay you to post that?

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How much did glasses direct pay you to post that?

look I've been a member here for years, I'm doing what I think forums can do best, passing on experiences.

I've got nothing from Glasses Direct .....not even the glasses yet. Like I say I'll keep the board informed.

Have an eye test, get quotes from the High Street, get quotes from Glasses Direct, and spend your money where you want to.

sometimes I don't know why I bother..... :rolleyes:

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Is there not another local independent optician that could have served you rather than Vision Express/Specsavers? Did your old retired optician not sell his list/practice onto another local independent?

While it's cheaper to get your glasses/contacts over the internet, you still need to have your eyes checked. Supporting your local independent optician means that the large chains have less of a monopoly on the high street outlets, and in some cases (I wouldn't cast nasturtiums on all chain opticians!) you get a better service - as per Skinty's post. Even if you don't buy the glasses from the high street, at least support your local independent by getting the check done by them...

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Glasses direct is a parasite business. No matter how much it rants about the mainstream high st optician chains it simply can't survive without them.

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Someone told me the opticians have to give you that PD measurement - by Law.

Anyone know if this is true ? The bloke that told me got them so I assume so. He is a big lad though.

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Went to Vision Express for an eye check-up. Not only did they clearly give me the wrong prescription (-3.75 instead of -2.75) but when asked about the growth covering my right eye-ball the guy said it was perfectly normal. Went off to the doctor who referred me to an eye specialist and it turned out that I needed an operation.

that's terrible, Wife had a similar experience, went to Boots and they spotted a torn retina, old problem due to premature birth apparently. Any how a year later Spec Savers missed it completely. And an independent also picked it up two years later.

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Is there not another local independent optician that could have served you rather than Vision Express/Specsavers? Did your old retired optician not sell his list/practice onto another local independent?

It was in a village where i used to live, went back there out of loyalty, but it had turned into a tattoo parlour

While it's cheaper to get your glasses/contacts over the internet, you still need to have your eyes checked. Supporting your local independent optician means that the large chains have less of a monopoly on the high street outlets, and in some cases (I wouldn't cast nasturtiums on all chain opticians!) you get a better service - as per Skinty's post. Even if you don't buy the glasses from the high street, at least support your local independent by getting the check done by them...

I hear what your saying, but it's a cruel world out there, and £350 is not to be sniffed at. Anyway wife supports the local independent.

Yes the big chains kill the competition off but they will always be there, so I'll used them to get my free eye test and buy elsewhere. I might get Freesat HD installed with a 360GB PVR box, with the money I'm saving . Begger giving Murdoch £10 a month for HD content. So see I will be supporting the smaller operator after all.

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Thanks for posting. I'm interested in your experience. Last time I changed (D&A) it took 3 months to sort it out. Twice they ordered the wrong shape lenses entirely. I specifically requested a design which could accomodate clip-on sunglasses, but at the 3rd failed attempt to supply those, they told me they'd decided to stop using their supplier and couldn't fill my order at all. They insisted I needed vari-focals, which I tried but couldn't get used to, and have reverted to single vision. Total cost including all their fannying around over 3 months - £440. Single vision, frameless, ultra-thins. An experience I have vowed never to repeat.

Just in case anyone is considering D&A - DON'T, THEY ARE A HEAP OF SH!TE.

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Thanks for posting. I'm interested in your experience. Last time I changed (D&A) it took 3 months to sort it out. Twice they ordered the wrong shape lenses entirely. I specifically requested a design which could accomodate clip-on sunglasses, but at the 3rd failed attempt to supply those, they told me they'd decided to stop using their supplier and couldn't fill my order at all. They insisted I needed vari-focals, which I tried but couldn't get used to, and have reverted to single vision. Total cost including all their fannying around over 3 months - £440. Single vision, frameless, ultra-thins. An experience I have vowed never to repeat.

Just in case anyone is considering D&A - DON'T, THEY ARE A HEAP OF SH!TE.

Jeez what prats, I've heard Variifocals aren't for every one, wife is OK with them apart from she finds going down stairs a bit of a bumer. I tried hers on, OK wrong prescription. If you move your head from extreme up, to extreme down the your field of vision distorts, as your eye line moves through the long, intermediate and short vision areas of the lenses. I'm fine with bifocals, and an intermediate prescription for my PC glasses.

D&A amalgamated with Boots back in May of this year, so now there are only really three big players in the High Street.

In answer to an earlier question regards the PD reading, another member asked. I'm not sure if opticians have to give it you by law. But I did read about a guy who managed to get Boots to give it to him, but they charged him a tenner. But considering his single vision glasses from Glasses Direct only cost him 50 odd quid it was still worth it.

Anyway you only have to find out that reading once, as it does not alter. It being the distance between the centres of your pupil to pupil.

In my case with bifocals, I was asked to measure from the outside of one lense magnification D [on its side] to the inside of the other lense D. Because that is all they do if you send them your specs, it's easy my reading was 59mm.

Now if for some reason you do not have that reading, or do not want to send your glasses in for them to measure, or incaperbale of taking that measurement yourself. Glasses Direct will do them with an average PD which I believe is 63mm, as that is an average reading from 4,000 samples it suits most people. I suspect that reading is not to a mm or two, but don't quote me as I'm just guessing.

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18 months ago following cateract surgery went to high street optician..quote for distance and reading glasses £700, when I refused he said you cannot drive until you have these glasses -so now stooping to threats..I waited until on holiday in crete,, examination by opthamologist 40 euro, two pairs glasses with polychromatic(?sp) lenses 200 euro and ready to collect two days later. As usual Rip Off Britain

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Glasses direct is a parasite business. No matter how much it rants about the mainstream high st optician chains it simply can't survive without them.

Assuming eye tests arent discounted I'm not sure I agree with this; I would describe them as an discount internet retailer. I have used GD once to give them a try and in buying from their 'designer range' found the product price and service excellent.

I think the high street opticians have had it their way for too long with mark ups that other retailers could only dream of.

That said I havent as of yet gone back to GD; I use the High Street for convenience and of course getting the right fit and style is important. Buying glasses is not like buying a camera where you can visit the shop, get the advice, and then go and buy for up to 50% cheaper off the net. Glasses are a very personal purchase that the internet cant cater for.

So for those that want price and price alone, GD are well worth a visit.

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that's terrible, Wife had a similar experience, went to Boots and they spotted a torn retina, old problem due to premature birth apparently. Any how a year later Spec Savers missed it completely. And an independent also picked it up two years later.

Specavers regularly do all the tests on me, and a few years ago spotted a problem that had my GP refer me to a consultant. Basically if it kept going bad I was going blind, if not I'd be fine. Nothing medical science could do about it.

All depends on the individuals in the store I reckon. For me Specsavers have been on the ball.

Both our examples illustrate that visiting an optician and having the tests is worth it.

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Thanks for posting. I'm interested in your experience. Last time I changed (D&A) it took 3 months to sort it out. Twice they ordered the wrong shape lenses entirely. I specifically requested a design which could accomodate clip-on sunglasses, but at the 3rd failed attempt to supply those, they told me they'd decided to stop using their supplier and couldn't fill my order at all. They insisted I needed vari-focals, which I tried but couldn't get used to, and have reverted to single vision. Total cost including all their fannying around over 3 months - £440. Single vision, frameless, ultra-thins. An experience I have vowed never to repeat.

Just in case anyone is considering D&A - DON'T, THEY ARE A HEAP OF SH!TE.

I found the optician at D&A to be very good. However their prices are higher than elsewhere, and I only found out after 90 minutes consultation that they assumed I was a pensioner of the same name - because the young lass making the appt had screwed up their database. So next time I went elsewhere.

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18 months ago following cateract surgery went to high street optician..quote for distance and reading glasses £700, when I refused he said you cannot drive until you have these glasses -so now stooping to threats..I waited until on holiday in crete,, examination by opthamologist 40 euro, two pairs glasses with polychromatic(?sp) lenses 200 euro and ready to collect two days later. As usual Rip Off Britain

Did you claim on the travel insurance?

I worked in a calls centre one summer, and had several claims that surprised me. The one that sticks in my mind was a guy who was claiming for a new set of false teeth - he said he's lost his usual pair down the loo whilst on holiday in Greece. His replacement pair were made very quickly, for an excellent price, and less than that of an NHS pair, he just had to pay the £35 or so excess on the insurance. I'll put money on the fact that he had the set he "lost" too...

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Did you claim on the travel insurance?

NO I detest people who claim wrongly on their insurance ,travel and otherwise..thats why it is so ruddy expensive .I do not condone fraud. I can confirm that dentistry in Crete is also very reasonably priced and excellent as you say in your post

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Yep, I do too, and have never made a claim on any insurance (I've been fortunate enough to never need to make a claim)

However, having worked at a call centre taking claim info, I was completely shocked at the percentage of people who make claims for what seemed to be either a blatant lie, or stretching the truth so far it would nearly snap. I resent paying for everyone else doing it that I start to wonder why I don't make outlandish claims about having lost my £500 watch on the beach (and no...they never had a receipt for it :rolleyes: )

There's no reward for being good.

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Glasses direct is a parasite business. No matter how much it rants about the mainstream high st optician chains it simply can't survive without them.

What will eventually happen is that the eye test will be charged at it's actual cost rather than the thirty quid or so you pay now with the subsidy that the expensive glasses allow.

I don't think the optician is required to provide the PD by the way.

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Specavers regularly do all the tests on me, and a few years ago spotted a problem that had my GP refer me to a consultant. Basically if it kept going bad I was going blind, if not I'd be fine. Nothing medical science could do about it.

All depends on the individuals in the store I reckon. For me Specsavers have been on the ball.

Both our examples illustrate that visiting an optician and having the tests is worth it.

I reckon that could be Glaucoma

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Assuming eye tests arent discounted I'm not sure I agree with this; I would describe them as an discount internet retailer. I have used GD once to give them a try and in buying from their 'designer range' found the product price and service excellent.

I agree, VE gave me an eye test, I signed a NHS form [because I'm over sixty] and they get paid for doing the test by the government. If under sixty I would have had to pay.

Would I have gone elsewhere possibly if it was cheaper. Businesses supply either a product or a service or both, they are in competition with other businesses. Having had four businesses of my own, I was always in competition with bigger chains. Did I cry because I did not get all the trade no, I just got on with the job of making a living. One business I sunk money into failed to turn a profit, but as they say, that's business.

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Is there not another local independent optician that could have served you rather than Vision Express/Specsavers? Did your old retired optician not sell his list/practice onto another local independent?

While it's cheaper to get your glasses/contacts over the internet, you still need to have your eyes checked. Supporting your local independent optician means that the large chains have less of a monopoly on the high street outlets, and in some cases (I wouldn't cast nasturtiums on all chain opticians!) you get a better service - as per Skinty's post. Even if you don't buy the glasses from the high street, at least support your local independent by getting the check done by them...

Unfortunately, the test fee for a proper test (someone that'll spot problems developing early on) doesn't nearly cover costs - the profit is made on the sales side. So, if you get a test and don't buy the glasses, you are not really doing anyone any favours (independents or chains).

If the bulk-storage businesses take over the retail side, then the testing prices will go up. Sure, the large chains will be able to compete online already, but some of the independents are moving into it too i.e. your indepedent may well own a share of an internet retail site just to get some share of that market. Other independents are specializing in quality services, charge more for the test but then give a discount if you purchase in-store.

There's no substitute for a proper eye test, by the way. The number of problems that a good optom can spot by looking in the eye is impressive.

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Unfortunately, the test fee for a proper test ... doesn't nearly cover costs - the profit is made on the sales side. ...

It is not dissimilar to the situation with mobile phones. You can get it cheap with a long contract, or pricey and no contract. In the end you still pay for the phone.

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first update:

Ordered two pairs of glasses 13th July, same day but after I placed my order GD are offering 15% off your first order codes.

14th July I have a word, GD say they will set the discount against my order.

15th July, my order is still billed at pre discount rate, so I email them...no reply forthcoming.

19th July my order is still billed at pre discount.

So tomorrow I'm cancelling my order under the provisions of the "Distance Selling Regulations"

See what they say to that.

Also, I've been looking elsewhere since they blanked me regards the discount, and I've found I can get them cheaper [at pre discount code price] from Glasses2You I emailed an inquiry on Saturday morning, and received a reply back immediately...replying to emails, Glasses Direct should try it.

Also on my prescription, Vision Express offered me the choice of Thin and Extra Thin lenses with bifocals. Glasses2You assured me they also offer that choice. Yet Glasses Direct, for technical reason only offer them on single vision lenses.

The above post should put to rest any ideas that a few people harboured, that this thread was in fact a back door advertisement piece for Glasses Direct.

Like I said before, I only relate my experiences as others may find them of benefit. And lets be fair, buying prescription glasses on line, is a world away from buying DVD's on line..

Edit: I just noticed Glasses2You are offering "a guide to buying glasses on line" and a 10% first purchase discount code.

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