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Quick notes:

  • Sub-$20 pricing – Zenni’s always been amongst those with low pricing. They currently have some of the lowest prices starting at $6.95.
  • Most popular – You’ll have no issue finding other customer input and reviews about Zenni (heck, the reader-reviews section on this site is full of them). Nearly anyone who’s bought glasses online has done so from Zenni at some point.
  • BBB-accredited with an A+ rating.
  • Can not check out as guest (must register).

 

Introduction:

Zenni Optical is located in the US (California), although orders may be shipped from either the US or from HK. Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision and bi-focal/progressive lenses. They a 1-800 number, fax number, email address, mailing address, and online form for contact. Payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Diner’s Club, JCB, Carte Blanche, Australian Bankcard, Discover/Novus, Switch, Solo, and enRoute. They are BBB-accredited with an “A+” rating.

 

Impressions:

Zenni is generally considered to be the most popular online eyeglass retailer. They’ve been around for a number of years and it’s virtually impossible to find a list of retailers (whether current or historic) that doesn’t include Zenni. It’s worth noting that they had some severe shipping (and customer-service-related) issues back in 2009 that were poorly addressed, though all indications seem to be that they’ve worked to improve since then – complaints appear to have decreased substantially, and they are now a BBB-accredited business. Their record isn’t by any means spotless, but they remain extremely popular and the “go-to” retailer for many customers. Looking back through input I’ve received and across other info on the web, my general impression when it comes to Zenni Optical’s customer service is that if you run into an issue, you probably won’t get a lot of sympathy from Zenni – they are very policy-oriented and will certainly offer you what their policies allow, but strictly adhering to their refund/credit policies also means that they’re not the type to go above-and-beyond to make sure you’re happy. This is generally speaking, and just the impression that I get, so take it with a grain of salt.

While in the past I’ve referred to Zenni’s website as “simple”, they’ve made a number of improvements over the years while still maintaining the ease of navigation.

Frame selection is quite good. In total, roughly 4000 frames exist, with 76 frames at the lowest ($6.95) price point. They also have a variety of frames for $9.95, $12.95, $15.95, and $19.00+. About 150 are available under the $15 mark. Beyond that, they also carry memory titanium, rimless, aluminum alloy, and quite a bit more in the way of options although prices vary in those categories, quite a few beyond the $19.00 mark. All in all, there’s a huge selection and prices generally are quite low and increase gradually as you go along. Frame prices cap at under $50 making it clear that they are heavily focused on low prices.

Frame engraving is something they’ve started offering somewhat recently, and you can get inner/outer text/art engravings in the $2-4 range, available in various colors.

Basic single-vision lenses (either 1.50 or 1.57 index) come free with the frames. Bifocals add $17 and Progressives add $21.95 to the price tag. A number of indexes are available (up to 1.67 for single vision), in addition to Transitions-branded photochromic lenses & Polarized lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are available for $9. Anti-scratch and UV are free, but an AR coating is extra ($4.95 for the basic coating, $14.95 for a more premium coating). Tint can be found for $4.95.

Prescriptions all the way up to -20/+12 are handled, and prism adds $10, making them one of the few who will tackle the really high/complex prescriptions.

They’ve essentially covered all the basics when it comes to lens options, and managed to keep the prices of those upgrades consistently low.

 

Website and Ordering:

As mentioned earlier, Zenni’s maintained a simple layout while adding functionality to the site. The search/sort feature is quite strong and is designed to help you find what you’re looking for quickly. You can use sliders to narrow down a price range, limit compatibility to bifocal/progressive, choose certain frame types/shapes/materials, select certain sizes or colors… you get the idea.

A try-on feature has been added. Zenni Optical was one of the last holdouts here, but when they finally got around to adding a try-on, they did a pretty good job. It appears to be java-based (rather than the more common flash-based ones), which was a pretty smart move on Zenni’s part. Zenni’s works flawlessly in nearly every OS and nearly every browser – it even works on the iPad, and thought was put into making it work well on touch-enabled devices too – even moving the little crosshairs around to line up with your eyes via taps works very intuitively.

Speaking of the mobile experience, Zenni’s site adapts to mobile devices pretty seamlessly. I did run into a serious issue/oversight on my latest visit though – they’re currently running a “Share to Win” promotion, and there’s a little popup on the screen which blocks some of the prescription area when using a phone. Closing it doesn’t “stick” correctly, so if I’d been planning to purchase while on my phone, chances are I would have given up in frustration part way through.

The ordering/prescription page is laid out well. Little “?” bubbles exist beside every option – mousing over a “?” brings a pop-up with further information/explanation.

My previous complaints about the remainder of the cart not jiving with the theme have been addressed – the cart looks and functions normally.

Unfortunately, to place an order you’re required to create an account (there’s no “checkout as guest”). I know that retailers love getting you signed up for various reasons (everything from account security to marketing), but as a customer it’s never something that’s thrilled me. This time around I wasn’t ready to create another throwaway account just for the sake of seeing what’s changed, but keep in mind that in previous times, before placing an order you were required to accept a Terms of Use agreement that bound you to “Arbitration” if there were a dispute. This last part (forcing the customer to agree to arbitration) ticks me off to no end. Instead of conveying that “if there’s a problem, let us know – we want to take care of it and make sure you’re pleased“, it comes off as “if something goes wrong, we’re more concerned about making you jump through hoops than anything else, really“.

To be fair, that may have changed. And even if it hasn’t, I haven’t heard any complaints about the “arbitration” requirement being used against a customer yet. And I really hope it’s something that a legal department insisted on rather than something Zenni intends to use against customers. Arbitration agreements are supposed to be for businesses making deals with each other – they don’t have any place in customer agreements as far as I’m concerned. If a customer has a problem, you’re supposed to… you know… work things out.

 

Pricing and Value:

Zenni remains extremely competitive price-wise. With frames starting at $6.95, free lenses, and shipping at $4.95 within the US ($9.95+ internationally), it’s quite possible to get a pair of glasses for under $15.

 

Lens offerings:

(prices based on $6.95 frames)

 Single vision Bifocal Progressive
1.50 Standard lenses free +$17.00 +$21.95
1.53 Trivex lenses +$29.99 +$49.00
1.57 Mid-Index lenses free +$21.95
1.59 Polycarbonate lenses +$9.00 +$39.00
1.61 High-Index lenses +$19.95 +$46.00 +$49.00
1.67 High-Index lenses +$34.95 +$67.00
Polarized 1.50 index (grey/amber) +$32.99 +$57.99 (1.49 index) +$57.99
Polarized Vision-Ease SunRx® 1.59 index polycarbonate (grey/brown) +$72.00  +$92.00
Polarized Vision-Ease Coppertone® 1.59 index polycarbonate (grey/brown) +$76.00  +$96.00
Photochromic 1.57 index (grey/amber) +$19.00 +$49.00 (grey) +$59.00
Photochromic 1.57 index (purple/blue/rose) +$29.00  +$59.00
Photochromic Vision-Ease LifeRx® 1.59 index polycarbonate (grey/brown) +$66.00  +$99.00
Transitions VI brand photochromic 1.50 index (grey/brown) +$69.00  +$109.00
Transitions VI brand photochromic 1.59 index polycarbonate (grey/brown) +$66.00  
Transitions VI brand photochromic 1.61 index (grey) +$139.00  +$159.00
Transitions VI brand photochromic 1.67 index (grey) +$169.00  +$189.00
Tint (standard) – grey, green, amber, blue, purple, pink, yellow +$4.95 +$4.95 +$4.95
Tint (gradient) – grey, dark grey, green, amber, brown, blue, purple, pink, yellow, dark yellow  +$7.95 +$7.95
Anti-reflective (AR) coating +$4.95 +$4.95 +$4.95
Anti-reflective (AR) coating – super hydrophobic (water resistant) +$8.95 +$8.95 +$8.95
Anti-reflective (AR) coating – Oleophobic (oil and fingerprint resistant) +$14.95 +$14.95 +$14.95
Anti-reflective (AR) coating – Mirror Finish with Oleophobic (gold/blue/silver) +$19.95 +$19.95

Shipping within the US is $4.95. Canada is $9.95. Other countries vary between $9.95 and $38.95.

The price charts are created by hand. If you notice any errors, please contact me.

 

To sum them up, Zenni’s the most popular retailer, has incredibly low-prices (both for offerings and addons), and is BBB-accredited.

 

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Curious as to how things have changed since 2006?
Here is my original writeup from many years ago…


Zenni Optical
“The 19 dollar prescription eyeglasses”

Caution: There have been reports from a number of sources that there have been a lot of hiccups/issues with Zenni recently. For the time being, I recommend being careful when ordering through them. If you’ve bought from Zenni recently (2009), please LET ME KNOW how it went – good or bad. I can be reached at matt@eyeglassretailerreviews.com . In the meantime, if you do plan on ordering from them, I strongly suggest keeping records (order date, any attempts at contact, etc) in case you have to file a dispute with your credit card company. I’ll update with more info as available.

 

Introduction

Taken from their “Lenses and Lens Materials” page:

All of our Single Vision, Bi-Focal and progressive bi-focal lenses are premium quality high index Polycarbonate composite polymer high impact resistance lenses with full UV protection, special strong anti-scratch coating.

Zenni Optical is located in California (USA). Pricing in USD. They display a 1-800 number, email address, and physical address on their Contact page. They accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diner’s Club, JCB, Carte Blanche, Australian BankCard, Discover/Novus, Switch, Solo, and enRoute.

 

Impressions

Zenni Optical seems to be one of the more popular retailers. And it’s no surprise… They’re based in the US, have decent contact information, and have some of the best pricing available. Their lenses come with a free anti-scratch coating, and most of their other lens options (tint, anti-reflection, etc) are pretty low-priced.

The 19 dollar prescription eyeglasses they have are essentially all the frames under their “Metal” and “Plastic” categories. If you want to step up to Stainless Steel, Memory Titanium, Memory Plastic, or Rimless, the price ranges from $23.95-29.95, so still under $30, which is pretty darn good (assuming the quality is decent).

All in all, this would appear to be a great place for inexpensive lenses. A first time buyer probably wouldn’t have much difficulty finding a set of glasses that meet their needs. Many people have ordered from Zenni, and most of them seem to have had a good experience, although they do have their share of dissatisfied customers as well. A search from search.bbb.org shows that they have an “unsatisfactory” record with the BBB (13 resolved and 12 “no response” complaints).

 

Pricing

Basic Frames (Metal or Plastic) + Lenses$19.00
- Photochomic + Single Vision+$39.00
- Bifocals+$19.00
- Progressive Lenses+$39.00
Extra Strength Prescription+$9.00
.
AR (anti-reflective) + Anti-Radiation+$4.95
Tint+$4.95
Clip-on Sunshade+$2.95
Shipping (US)+$4.95
Shipping (Canada)+$9.00

A pair of single vision lenses without any add-ons is only $23.95 after shipping if you live in the US. This is pretty tough to beat if you ask me.

Website Ratings

CategoryRatingDetails
WebsiteGoodWebsite is easy to navigate. When ordering, there are clickable ‘help’ buttons which give more detailed information on each option, which can be helpful to those who have never ordered glasses online before.
SelectionGreatThere were over 60 of the $19 frames (Metal and Plastic frames), as well as a selection of Stainless Steel, Memory Titanium, Memory Plastic, Rimless, Children’s frames, and more.
Frame InfoGoodDimensions, Weight, and Color, as well as a short description all given.
Lens OptionsAcceptableNo choice in lens material, although polycarbonate is arguably a ‘safe’ choice for Zenni to go with, since it often sells for more than either Glass or CR39 lenses anyway. AR and Tint are really the only options, although Single-Vision lens wearers can also choose photochromic lenses. For most people looking for basic inexpensive lenses, the options offered are probably sufficient.
ValueExcellentFor a cheap pair, or a back-up pair of eyeglasses, these can’t be beat.

 

Click here to go to the Zenni Optical purchase review

 

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