FAQ (For Readers)
I've received a large number of questions from readers over the years, so here is a page dedicated to (hopefully) answering your questions:
1. Who are you? And tell me a little about the site.
I started the site back in January of 2006. I was a regular guy looking for glasses, and wasn't willing to pay the $160 that Wal-Mart (the cheapest place locally) wanted for their cheapest frames and cheapest lenses. I took my search online, but retailers were hard to find and finding information about them was even tougher. I couldn't tell whether they were legitimate or whether they were scams. After many hours of research, I had a lot of compiled information so I decided to put a few pages online with the information I'd gathered. As the only resource of it's kind, the pages immediately started getting a lot of traffic, so I decided to expand on them. Before long, Eyeglass Retailer Reviews was born.
One of the strengths of the site (in my opinion) is that I've managed to keep things pretty unbiased. Unlike most of the large review sites out there, a retailer can't hire a marketing company to fill EGRR with fake reviews. This site actually used to have forums, but someone started attempting to post some fake positive reviews there so I scrapped the whole concept rather than risk exposing people to tainted information. Of course, the down side to "insulating" EGRR the way I have since then is that most of the information here comes from me – and who's to say I can be trusted? That said, I do try to keep a balanced approach and always aim to look at retailers from a typical customer point of view... usually as the guy from 2006 who was looking to buy glasses online and was having trouble.
2. I like my frames but need new lenses because I broke my lenses, got a new prescription, or <insert other reason here>. Where can I get this done?
This surprised me as being one of the most common questions. I've had input from a number of readers who had a lot of success with an online outfit called ReplaceALens.com . They're BBB-accreddited with an A+ rating. Note that I have not used them myself so can't vouch for them personally, but they’ve been around for quite some time and I've yet to hear a complaint. Their site used to be very simple with a mail-order form, but it's really improved over the years.
If that doesn't tickle your fancy, SelectSpecs.com was one of the first retailers to contact me years back mentioning that they added a "reglazing" (re-lensing) service. They are located in the UK though. For someone looking for something in the US, 39DollarGlasses.com is another possibility.
That said, quite a few retailers do offer that service now. If you've ordered from a retailer that you were really happy with in the past, it might be worth sending them an email and asking them if they'll re-lens your old frame. Even if they don't advertise it, quite a few will.
Do keep in mind that because your frames are going to make TWO trips through the mail this way, there's a fair bit of added risk. Stuff does get lost/damaged in the mail. Asking about additional postal insurance might be a good idea. If your current frames are extremely valuable, this is a situation where you may want to eat the extra cost and have it done locally. Otherwise, be sure to package them incredibly well and take every precaution you can.
3. Which retailer should I buy from?
This is also quite frequent. I really avoid making specific recommendations when possible because I'd feel pretty bad if I said "oh, this retailer is perfect for you!" and then you ended up having a bad experience.
The truth is, you should usually pick whoever you're most comfortable ordering from. If you're not sure, do more research. Google/Bing the retailers you're interested in to find input from others, try posting on forums (slickdeals, redflagdeals, etc), if the retailer has a contact form make use of it to ask questions, and just keep going until you're sure.
If by the end you don't feel comfortable with any retailers, I strongly suggest you just skip the online stuff until next time. There's no shame in buying in a local store – sure it's more expensive, but sometimes you can't put a price on peace-of-mind.
4. I've never bought glasses before and just got my first prescription. Suggestions..?
If you've never worn glasses (or contact lenses) before, I really suggest getting your first pair locally. The big reason is that if something is horribly wrong with your prescription... you might not know. In a local store, they usually handhold you, show you how to clean your glasses, adjust them for you, make sure everything seems correct, and all that wonderful stuff. You just can't get that level of hands-on service online.
That said, I do realize that many people are on a budget, and their only choice is online. Triple-check that you entered your prescription in that case, and if you have any issues, be sure to contact the retailer. If something doesn't "look" right in terms of vision, make sure you visit your optometrist with the new glasses in hand.
5. I had a really bad experience with a retailer. What should I do?
Start by shooting me a quick email (email@example.com) if possible and let me know what happened.
Next, contact the retailer – give them an opportunity to resolve it. Make multiple attempts to contact them if necessary, and document all your attempts to contact them (date, time, method of communication).
If that fails, try contacting the BBB – you can use their online complaint form if you'd like. Be sure to pass them as much information as possible, including the stuff you documented above. Note that not every retailer responds to BBB complaints, but many retailers do. If they don't, it's usually a knock against their BBB rating and I do list that here.
If all else fails, you can try contacting your credit card company and inquiring about the possibility of a "charge back". This should usually be a last resort, and should only be used if you're 100% sure the retailer was in-the-wrong and when you have exhausted all other possible options. I strongly suggest that you ask the credit card company about possible ramifications of going this route. Legally, you probably have to (or morally, should) return any items if you go this route, and there could be other legal ramifications. Again, last resort.
Send me a follow-up email later if possible, letting me how things turned out in the end.
6. What is the "hot water test"?
When EGRR was in it's infancy, I received some really weird complaints about coatings "cracking". This wasn't a frequent complaint, but it led me to do some further investigation as it seemed to revolve around certain retailers which had me wondering if their coatings were somehow different. What I found was that the cracking was correlated to higher temperatures – glasses that had been left in a hot car, were exposed to steam, were placed in hot water, etc.
I personally had become accustomed to cleaning my lenses in warm water with a little bit of dish soap, and had avoided using hot water because temperature extremes are rarely good for anything.
However since EGRR had become something of a public service, I figured I may as well start testing with hot water. Beyond the aspect of it being beneficial information for readers, I also wanted to avoid the situation where retailers start using poorer coatings to cut costs. After all, why would a retailer use a more expensive coating if nobody notices it?
So the test is essentially running the glasses under hot water (roughly in the 60-70C range) for a few seconds, and then carefully examining the lenses for signs of the coating cracking. It's a painfully simple test, but it's the only real obvious indicator I have when it comes to durability which I tend to correlate with quality. Note that just because a coating doesn't crack, it doesn't meant that it's the highest-caliber coating out there! It just means it didn't crack under hot water. Maybe it's poor in other areas – but I don't have access to a lab and neither does Joe Consumer, so the hot water test is the test.
As a reminder, you should not try this test at home. If the lenses fail the test, they are unusable. And it's within the realm of possibility that even though my glasses from Retailer_A passed, your glasses from Retailer_A somehow came out differently. It's not the end of the world when they crack for me because most of the glasses I buy are for the sole purpose of reviewing, and their destiny is to sit on a shelf when I'm finished with them. Chances are you probably wanted to actually wear your glasses for months/years, so don't go running them through tests that might wreck them.
7. I contacted you but you didn’t reply!
It's not uncommon for me to get over 100 email messages some days. You can be pretty certain I read the email, but I may not have had time to respond, and it probably just got pushed down.
If you requested a response and didn't hear back from me, send me a reminder email in a couple days.
8. How does the site pay for itself or make money?
There are ads throughout the site!
9. I'm writing a paper/article, and was wondering if you could answer <insert questions here>.
Sure! I'm usually pretty open to these types of requests. Because responses for these tend to be a little more lengthy, it tends to take me a few days to get back to people on these. If you haven't heard back with a week though, be sure to send me a reminder email.
10. What happened to ContactLensRetailerReviews?
Not long after starting it, I realized it's value as a review site was somewhat low. The retailers all sell the same products and primarily compete on price, so purchase reviews would be pretty pointless aside from shipping and customer service stuff. The biggest value I saw it having was that it mentioned when multiple retailers all appeared to be owned by the same parent company, and it exposed what I consider to be a shady practice of tacking on an arbitrary "handling" fee during checkout.
Anyway, if you're really interested in seeing it again, I merged all the pages of that site into one massive long page at eyeglassretailerreviews.com/contact-lens/. Aside from a few tweaks to the layout, all the info is pretty much the same as it was when I took the site down.
11. I have another question!
Please send along an email to firstname.lastname@example.org !