39 Dollar Glasses
- Catered strongly towards new customers with little to no experience buying online.
- Polycarbonate lenses standard – polycarbonate, a virtually shatter-proof material excellent for everyone (but even more strongly recommended for children) is the lens used in their basic pairs of glasses.
- Name brand lenses – while the basic lenses are unbranded, there is a heavy selection of name-brand lenses, often in polycarbonate.
- Flex Spending Accounts – they advertise heavily that those with FSA accounts are able to use them for purchases here.
- Re-lensing – 39dollarglasses offers a re-lensing service if you have existing frames and would like to simply have new lenses put in.
- BBB accredited – they are BBB-accredited with an A+ rating.
- "Worry free guarantee" - if unhappy with the glasses, you can let them know within 10 days of receiving them and they will pay for return shipping and refund your money (minus the original shipping charge). Some exclusions apply.
- Higher end of the discount price scale (no offerings in the under-$30 range).
- AR coating is considerably more expensive than most retailers.
- No name-brand designer frames offered.
39 Dollar Glasses is situated in the US (New York). Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision, bi-focal, and progressive glasses. Methods of contact include online live support (8 hours a day Mon-Fri), a web inquiry form, a 1-800 and direct phone number, fax, and a mailing address listed on their site. They accept Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, and Discover. They are BBB-accredited carrying an "A+" rating.
39 Dollar Glasses has been around over a decade now (since 2000), and continues to be well-suited toward the nervous first-time buyer. At times it almost appears that they're just as much in the "peace of mind" business as they are in the "glasses" business. The largest downside to 39 dollar glasses is the price – they're at the higher end of the "discount lenses" scale, and don't include a lot of freebies. On one hand, your $39 gets you Polycarbonate lenses on single-vision glasses – a good step up from the basic CR39 plastic lenses offered elsewhere. On the other hand, adding an anti-reflective coating bumps up the price of your glasses by $25, where many other retailers offer the coating for free (or at least a lower cost), although to be fair many of those other retailers are putting the AR coating on CR39. If you're looking for Polycarbonate lenses, it's actually a pretty reasonable deal. If you don't mind CR39 or glass though and are looking to spend as little as possible, you may want to look elsewhere.
It's worth noting they've also added a "100% worry free guarantee" which is laid out quite simply. If you don't like the glasses, you can contact them within 10 days of receiving them for a refund (minus shipping) or an exchange. If you live in the US, they'll pay for the return shipping. There are a couple lenses that are excluded (the branded UltimateViewHD and Varilux lenses only qualify for a 50% refund), but the vast majority of lenses certainly seem to be eligible.
It's clear that 39DollarGlasses is quite proud of the reputation they've established over the years. The BBB logo on their site links directly to their listing on the BBB page, clicking on their ResellerRatings logo hops right over to that site, and in the past they've display excerpts about themselves from Readers Digest and the Wall Street Journal on the main page. They've also added a PowerReviews Express section for each frame (though honestly I tend to mistrust review sections on product pages as they can be prone to astroturfing, incentivization, etc). Looking through reader input I've received as well as other resources on the web, I get the strong impression that 39DollarGlasses makes every attempt to resolve issues when they arise.
The majority of their plastic & metal frames are $39.00 which includes single-vision lenses. They do offer a selection of other frames (rimless, bendable titanium, etc) but those generally cost more. Most of their frames are offered in 2-3 colors which vary depending on the frame selected. While they do not carry a name-brand designer line, they have maintained a consistent selection of frames to the point where if you bought frames years ago and want new ones of the same type, they'll probably still carry them. One nicety is that despite getting a mix of $39 and higher priced frames when you first select a category, the moment you sort by price, you've got about 250 frames at the $39 mark. So while that initial $39 is higher than many other retailers start with, that price stays consistent rather than bumping up after a page of frames.
Single-vision lenses come free with the frame. They also offer tinted, polarized, Transitions (brand), and 1.67/1.74 High-Index lenses. Bi-focals and progressives are also offered in tinted, polarized, and Transitions (brand) variants. Up to -12 SPH is offered (no extra "high-prescription" charge). High CYL values (above +/-3.25) will require you to choose a higher index though. One thing you may notice is that many of the lenses are name-branded with names such as UltimateView HD®, Seiko®, Drivewear®, NuPolar®, Transitions®, SMARTshades® and Varilux®, the latter coming with a certificate of authenticity. Through my research, every indication has been that all their lenses seem to be crafted (and the glasses put together) in a lab located in the USA.
Website and Ordering:
The 39 Dollar Glasses website remains excellent – particularly for first time buyers. Much of the site is very step-by-step in a way that's simple and non-complicated, but with a good bit of information available when desired.
As soon as you choose a frame, the next page gives some basic measurements, and includes a "SmartFit" section on the same page which lets you browse between 12 different faces (6 male, 6 female) to see how glasses look on different face shapes. They also have a PDF file you can download and print, cut out, and then put against your face and check out in a mirror if you want to get an idea of how they'll look on you. On top of that, they've added the ability to upload your own picture and see how the glasses might look on you that way, known as "ExactFit". With the flexibility they've added to it (while maintaining the simplicity), it is easily one of the best try-on features I've used. That said, it currently suffers from a bug where if you click for more info on the "PD" measurement from within "Step 3" of the ExactFit process, you will be unable to close the PD popup. Very unfortunate that it seems to have missed testing as that will quickly frustrate a potential customer. Ignoring that issue for the moment, one of the largest concerns a new buyer typically has is "how will they look on me", and 39DollarGlasses definitely has covered that area from a few angles.
39 Dollar Glasses has not yet implemented a mobile version of their site, so mobile users get the desktop version but without the try-on feature.
Going through each option during the order process, just about anything someone might not know is usually clickable for a small popup with information. How to read you prescription, how to take a PD measurement (they even include a printable ruler in case you don't happen to have a junk-drawer full of them), details about each lens, etc. However, the information could use a little more depth and perhaps a few pictures to help show the differences between some of the lenses. One other issue I came across in my recent browse through is that after selecting a tint in Step 3, you're brought to a new page to select the color. But that new page doesn't list the previous item you just chose – it would be nice if it at least said "tint for your transitions selection", perhaps even with some additional help there.
They do keep a "Having trouble ordering? We're here to help" note in a predominant position along with the toll-free number. It almost gives the feeling of being hand-held throughout the process.
Checking out as a Guest is allowed, which is always a plus.
It's worth noting that while browsing, I never felt as though I was being bait-and-switched or pressured into something more expensive. The cheapest stuff was always selected by default, and the only thing it mentioned as a "recommendation" was the $25 AR coating. That said, the upgrades themselves are heavier in price.
The short version is that the 39 Dollar Glasses site works to keep the experience clean, simple, and elegant. I do have a few minor issues as mentioned, but to be fair, I had to look for them. Overall it was a pleasant shopping experience.
Pricing and Value:
The majority of plastic/metal single-vision glasses come to $39.00 complete with UV protection and scratch-resistance. Bi-focals come to $89.00 ($99.00 for progressives) and also include UV protection and scratch-resistance. Tint is offered in 7 colors (brown, grey, G-15, blue, rose, orange, yellow), but adds to the price. Transitions lenses are offered in Brown or Grey.
Despite the basic offerings being priced higher than most other retailers, the fact that your $39.00 gets you polycarbonate lenses makes it a pretty reasonable deal. Stepping up to anything other than a non-basic lens starts to escalate the price quite quickly, though you're generally getting name-brand lenses for the money. However, this probably isn't the place for someone simply looking for a backup pair of glasses, since you can get a basic pair of glass or CR39 lenses/frames complete with an AR coating for less elsewhere. That said, if this is your first time buying glasses online, you're looking for polycarbonate and/or name-brand lenses, or are planning on using a FSA account, 39 Dollar Glasses is definitely worth checking out.
Lens offerings (based on a $39 pair of frames/lenses):
|Single vision||Bifocal (+$50)||Progressive (+$60)|
|Clear Polycarbonate (1.59)||free||free|
|Clear Polycarbonate Illumina Brand (1.59)||free|
|Clear Polycarbonate UltimateView HD Free-Form Brand (1.59)||+$59.95|
|Clear Polycarbonate Varilux Comfort New Edition Brand (1.59)||+$99.00|
|Clear Seiko Brand Super High Index (1.67)||+$49.95 (free AR)|
|Clear Ultra-high Index (1.74)||+$89.95 (free AR)|
|Tinted CR39 (1.50)||+$9.95||+$19.95|
|Tinted Polycarbonate (1.59)||+$19.95|
|Tinted Polycarbonate UltimateViewHD Free-Form Brand (1.59)||+$69.90|
|Tinted Polycarbonate Varilux Comfort New Edition Brand (1.59)||+$108.95|
|Tinted Seiko Brand Super High Index (1.67)||+$59.90|
|Polarized NuPolar Brand CR39 (1.50)||+$49.90||+$88.90|
|Polarized NuPolar Brand Polycarbonate (1.59)||+$88.90||+$98.90|
|Polarized UltimateView HD Free-Form Brand Polycarbonate (1.59)||+$99.90|
|Polarized Transitions NuPolar Brand photochromic||+$89.00||+$99.00|
|Transitions Brand CR39 photochromic (1.50)||+$49.90||+$88.90|
|SMARTshades clearLIGHT Brand photochromic (1.58)||+$49.95|
|SMARTshades Optical Dynamics Brand photochromic (1.59)||+$49.95|
|Transitions Brand Polycarbonate photochromic (1.59)||+$88.90|
|Transitions Ultimate View HD Free-Form Brand Polycarbonate photochromic||+$99.90|
|Transitions VI Varilux Comfort New Edition Brand Polycarbonate photochromic||+147.90|
|AR coating||$24.95||not available||$24.95|
Shipping adds $4.95 in the US, and $12.95 internationally.
The price charts are created by hand – if you notice any errors, please contact me.
While more expensive than a number of other online retailers, 39DollarGlasses has situated themselves well as the go-to retailer for those new to buying glasses online. Even for veteran buyers, the price is still reasonable enough and they may very well be the best place to buy glasses if looking for vast polycarbonate offerings.