Thursday, January 15, 2009

FUCK YOU, LensCrafters

I recently misplaced -- or actually lost -- the eyeglasses that I use when working at my computer.

After a couple of frustrating days searching my house, office and cars, and suffering with an old inadequate pair of glasses, I declared them officially gone.

I didn't need a complete pair of glasses -- just lenses that would fit into any of several no-longer-used eyeglass frames.

Not wanting to prolong the agony, I went to my local LensCrafters. I've bought from them before and was pleased with the product selection, quality and fast service -- but my wife said I paid too much.

The company advertises that they can make glasses "in about an hour" and has perpetual sales like the mattress stores. Their regular price seems to be their 25%-off price and they have lots of two-fers.

LensCrafters is part of a huge vertically integrated Italian company, Luxottica -- the biggest eyewear company in the world, with many stores and many brands, including Ray-Ban.

The company makes glasses sold with lots of "designer" labels such as DKNY, Polo and Versace. They operate the eyeglass departments in Sears, K-Mart and Target, plus their own LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Sunglass Hut stores. With over 6,000 retail outlets and dozens of brands, it's hard to not buy from Luxottica.

There's probably no company that can make frames and lenses as inexpensively as LensCrafters. The corporate websits brags that Luxottica has "lowest production costs and the highest margins."

I expected to pay a bit extra for quick service and an expensive mall location -- but I had no idea I'd get fucked as badly as I did.

Even with my 15% AAA discount, a pair of basic single-vision lenses, with no special coating, would have cost a whopping $192.

If I was willing to buy a complete pair of glasses to take advantage of the alleged 25% discount, and settle for an ugly frame from the closeout section, the total would have been $215.

I left and ordered a perfect pair of complete glasses at Costco for $59. I had to wait about 10 days for them, but I'd rather be part blind than a complete idiot.

According to a study by MIT, a typical pair of lenses costs two bucks to make. The raw material in the frame and lenses is worth pennies. At least one online source will sell me a complete pair of glasses for under ten bucks.

I certainly don't mind if Luxottica makes a profit. But if they get greedy, I walk away.

And if the greedy bastards are stupid enough to brag about their high profit margin, I'll tell everyone to stay away.


Anonymous said...

Eyeglasses are even a worse ripoff than hearing aids.

Fortunately, it's not hard to find good glasses for much less than LC charges.

The only reason to go to them is in an emergency when glasses are lost or broken. But for what they charge, you could buy three or six pairs somewhere else and have plenty of spares.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this, Michael. Very good to know. Incidentally, I've found that the bi-annual sales at the Sears stores DO offer a better value, but they are very deceptive about when those sales occur and I've caught them more than once trying to add on charges I did not approve.

Unknown said...

I've been there and was told how great the anti-glare coating is. I did tell them that I had the coating years ago and didn't like it. Like an idiot, I got the anti-glare coating and it was the same shit they used 20 years ago. They wanted to sell me the scotchguard to stop the anti-glare from smudging. I didn't get it, but I did get the same headache I did 20 years ago from constantly washing my glasses. These people will lie and do anything it takes to make a sale.

Anonymous said...

I to think LC is a but pricey however u state ur 2 dollar comment
I work on a private office and buy the best lens - can range my cost of 60 bucks to done varilux products of over 200 a pr ---- but if u buy from me - don't exspect that shit of - oh I don't like these or I fcked them up pls replace them - non of that with me can not afford to give u 50% off since they r ruined

As for ar
what the heck r u doing with your glasses that they get do dirty ?? Do u not clean them daily w- correct stuff ? Do u touch them all the time ,??? What
I can not figure these folks out
the dirt would still be there with or with out that coating !! Fact ! It is just being masked by the glare ..
Also it is fact the vision is better -- read up on light transmission as well as optics and u will c -- plus read up on the vast differances in coating vs 10 yrs ago !! Night and day -- baby

eyeguy said...

Lux brands optician here and I completely agree w/ you.

The company gives a shit for nothing regarding patient need and pushes constantly for greater market share. All the while, they limit our ability to provide the patients with best practice alternatives, re: lens selection, materials availability.

Fuck Luxottica! Bunch of money grubbing cookie cutter monopolists!

My advice as a professional & a patient advocate: get your eyewear from an independent and pay the extra price for best service, warranty, selection.

Oh, and to the anonymous poster who resents discounted remakes: if your lab won't comp you a remake based on AR warranty or nonadapt, you need a new supplier. And you won't remake free within one year for ANY reason at all (except "I lost them") you don't need to be in the business.. That's been the standard for over 50 years.

I reiterate. Fuck Luxottica!

Anonymous said...

I managed a LC lab for a few years and I can personally tell you that they typically have about $3 to $15 invested in every frame and then turn around and sell them for $99 to $400. Luxottica owns factories around the world which manufactures almost all of their frames and then stamps the designers logo on them. As far as lenses go, a set of progressive lenses cost the company about $25 to $50 per pair and are sold for upwards of $300. Single vision lenses cost them between $3 to $12 and are sold for upwards of $80. But you do have to keep in mind that the equipment of the onsite lab is very expensive. But they get around this by making their equipment last for many, many years, and rebuilding it as much as possible. Because they are so huge, they are able to force the equipment manufacturers into selling them equipment are below average prices, and the same goes for the price of lenses. Their purchasing power is completely unfair to their competitors. And because they manufacture most of their own frames in countries with virtually no labor laws, they max out the profit margins in all three catagories; frames, lenses, and lab work. A few years back they also struck a deal that gave them an edge in the eye insurance business, assuring that tens of millions of Americans would alsmost have to go to a Luxottica location (LC, Pearle, Sears, BJs, Target, etc.) to use their pathetic insurance plans. The fucking SEC approved the deal and allowed Luxottica to have a virtual monopoly. This is a company that needs to be reigned in!