For Eyes

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As I mentioned here at the time, I had my yearly eye exam several days ago. That’s when my eye doctor confirmed that my proper bifocal prescription is even a little bit stronger than it was last year. I suspected as much. Since I could still read pretty well through my 5-6 year-old prescription after last year’s eye exam, I didn’t bother to buy new glasses last year. But this year, there’s enough of a difference that I decided to buy a new pair of glasses.

My wife and I pay for health insurance as well as separate eye-care insurance, but since we both see an ophthalmologist every year instead of an optometrist, we use our regular medical insurance to help pay for our eye exams since our eye-care insurance doesn’t cover ophthalmologists. But because I need new glasses this year, I decided to check out the eyeglass stores that our eye-care insurance covers. Armed with that information and my new prescription, I visited three of them today.

Visionworks currently has a sale going on. For $149, you can get two complete pairs of glasses with no-line bifocal lenses. It sounded like a great deal until I visited my local Visionworks store. It turned out that I could only get that price if I pay for the glasses myself. If I use my eye-care insurance, it would cost me $90 to buy one pair of those exact same glasses. Plus, those prices only apply to a very limited selection of only their cheapest frames. The one pair of frames that I liked would have cost me an additional $30. I got a very strong sense of bait-and-switch from Visionworks, so I decided to try a few other places.

Sam’s Club was my next stop. Sam’s Club has really good prices on a lot of things — but you have to be careful when you shop there, because sometimes they carry only name-brand items, so even when those are heavily discounted, they might cost more than you might want to pay. Glasses are a perfect example. My local Sam’s Club offers two brands of no-line bifocal lenses, Nikon and Zeiss. I recognize both names as excellent makers of photographic lenses, so I’m sure that either one would work great for a pair of glasses. The problem is that one brand sells for over $700 retail, while the other brand sells for around $1000 retail. So even with Sam’s Club’s heavy discount, they cost around $250 and $350 — and that’s just for the lenses. Then you have to add at least $50 for the cost of even their cheapest pair of frames. The cheapest frames that I liked cost $80. So that means that even with insurance, it would have cost me at least $330 to get one pair of glasses (with really good lenses) at Sam’s Club.

My last stop was at JC Penney, mainly because it’s farther away than the other two stores. I had seen an ad in the newspaper that they are offering one pair of glasses with no-line bifocal lenses for only $99. After my Visionworks experience, I expected Penney’s offer to end up being another bait-and-switch deal. Instead, it turned out to be a real deal, that included my choice of any frames up to a cost of $130. I found several frames that I liked that ranged in price from $79 to $129 and finally decided on a sturdy, good-looking pair priced at $79. My glasses will be ready in about 2 weeks. The total cost was exactly $99. If I had used my eye-care insurance, I would have saved $3.

I called my wife at work and told her this whole story as soon as I got home. As I started to write this, I received an email confirmation that she has already successfully canceled our eye-care insurance coverage.

After all, there’s no sense in paying for insurance that doesn’t do us any good.

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1 Response to For Eyes

  1. Jack Cowart says:

    Bob, DW just had a lousy experience with the “fine folks” at Visionworks. She went in to get the “2 for $149” deal and came home having spent $411 for 2 pair. I immediately called the store and spoke to the manager. There were redundant charges and I used the word “bait and switch”. The manager agreed to reduce the cost by $75 to keep the order. BUT that’s still a far cry from 2 for $149. I have had good experiences at JC Penney as well.

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