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39 Dollar Glasses

reviewed by Matt on
http://www.39dollarglasses.com

 

The following is a purchase review based on my own experience. This experience does not necessarily reflect the experience that others may have when buying glasses from the above retailer. Keep in mind that each purchase review/experience pertains to ONE order. If my experience went well, it is no guarantee that yours will go well. If mine went poorly, there’s no guarantee that yours will go poorly. Purchases may be placed under varying addresses under various names in an effort to keep orders “anonymous” so that orders do not receive “special treatment” above and beyond what a normal customer would receive. Finally, while every effort is made to keep each review unbiased, note that it is subject to my own opinion.

most recent purchase (2009)

Order Placed – Aug 11, 2009

An order was placed for glasses. I went with the cheapest frames ($39.00) which came with free polycarbonate lenses, and added an AR coating ($24.95). I used the coupon link from the website (15% off) which reduced the price by $9.59. The glasses included free anti-scratch and UV coatings. Shipping was $12.95 to Canada, bringing the total to $67.31.

 

Order Shipped – Aug 12, 2009

I received an email stating that the glasses had shipped, which included a tracking number.

 

Order Received – Aug 20, 2009 (9 days)

The glasses arrived. The envelope stated they were shipped from New York. Overall, a very reasonable shipping time from the US to Canada.

 

Packaging

Inside the envelope was a clamshell case, which contained the glasses as well as a micro-fibre cloth. The case was noticably durable as soon as I held it. I resisted the urge to grab a sledge hammer and see how much of a beating it would take, but needless to say, I’m confident in it’s ability to protect the glasses during transit.

 
click on any of the images above for a full-size image in a pop-up window

Very simple, just the case, glasses, and a cloth.

 

First impressions & Quality

The frames were very solid, which was noticible right away. They’re also hinged and overall they have a good sturdy, quality feel to them. The lenses were cut precisely to fit the frames, and seemed to be optically correct throughout. Neither the nosepads nor the frames needed any adjusting.

The AR coating reflects light sources as a light purple (green/purple tend to be the common colors), and no defects were present. The lenses were quite clean and didn’t need any rinsing.

I put the lenses through the “hot water test”, and they passed without any cracking.

All around, the glasses seem to be a nice basic quality pair with a good solid feel to them, and I’d expect them to last quite a few years.

  
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Final Thoughts

I was pretty pleased with the glasses overall. $39 does get to be at the higher end of the “discount glasses” spectrum, but they do include polycarbonate lenses as standard which makes it very competitive with other polycarbonate offerings. The down side is the price of the AR coating – at $25, it easily adds over 50% to the total cost of a basic pair of glasses. It did pass the hot water test (and had it failed I would have reamed on it hard), so it’s likely to be at least a quality coating. To be perfectly fair, most other retailers charge a lot more for polycarbonate to begin with (even when they include free AR), so it probably isn’t as big a deal as I’ve made it out to be – the grand total for poly + AR is still very competitive with others.

 

Would I buy from 39DollarGlasses again based on this purchase?

I probably would. I tend to like the properties of polycarbonate, and both the frames and lenses met my expectations and were great for the price.

 

Would I recommend 39DollarGlasses to others based on this purchase?

It depends on the person. The website’s very new-user-friendly, the quality is great, and the price is very competitive as well. They’re also one of very few to have resolved 100% of their BBB complaints.

For someone looking for a quality pair of frames with polycarbonate lenses, 39DollarGlasses would probably be one of my first recommendations. For polycarbonate, it’s really the way to go if someone’s looking for quality at a good price.

That said, for someone who’s looking for a simple cheap back-up pair, they’d probably be best served to get a standard CR-39 lens elsewhere.

 

Click here to visit the 39 Dollar Glasses website / Click here to go to the 39 Dollar Glasses information page

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previous purchase (2006)

Order Placed – Jan 4, 2006

I placed on order for glasses via the website. I selected regular metal frames, Polycarbonate Transition lenses, and an AR coating. Polycarbonate Transition lenses are typically a lot more expensive. Therefore, after shipping it came out to $160.80 (note that regular polycarbonate lenses with frames are available for $39 + shipping).

 

Order Shipped – Jan 5, 2006

I received an email stating: “Your order is expected to ship in 2-4 business days. Shipping method: USPS Global Priority. Order total: $160.80. You will receive an additional email containing your delivery confirmation number immediately after your order is shipped.” Their website allows you to check the status of your order, so not wanting to miss the ‘shipped’ day, I checked the status of my order daily, which always read “In Production”.

 

Order Received – Jan 16, 2006

I received my order in the mail. While I was happy to get my glasses, I was surprised, as I never received an email that said they had shipped, nor did their website ever change the status of my order. It still showed “In Production”. Not the end of the world, but had the glasses become lost in the mail, I wouldn’t have really had much of an indication, as the status page never changed. Free with the glasses was a hard clamshell case and micro-fiber cloth which has a string so that it can also be used to carry the glasses.
Pictures (click on any of the thumbnails to open the image full-size in a new window)

39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Packaging 1 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Packaging 2 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Glasses Case 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Open Case and Glasses 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Glasses Overview 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Glasses
#1 and #2 are of the packaging, nothing fancy. #3 is the hard clamshell case. While not indestructable, definitely sufficient for shipping, as you would need a fair bit of weight to crush/break it, #4 is the way it was when first opened. You can’t see it, but there was some sort of ‘debris’ all over the lenses. It rinsed off easily with water. #5 and #6 are just a couple extra pictures I took to display the glasses.

 

Order Received – Jan 16, 2006 (continued)

I examined the frames, which seemed to be straight and constructed well. They fit perfectly and didn’t need any adjusting. Bright light that ends up reflected in the lens shows as green, which seems to be the color of the AR coating. While examining the lenses, I noticed a vertical hairline scratch in the right lens, just left of center, extending about 5mm from the top and going all the way down to the bottom. I put the glasses on and noticed within a few minutes that light in certain situations would catch this scratch in such a way that it would cause an annoying blur (similar to the blur caused when dirt or a smudge gets on a lens).

Pictures of the scratch (click for full-sized image)

39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - glasses scratched lens 1 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Glasses Scratched Lens details 2
I apologize for the “messy” backgrounds. The digital camera I was using had difficulty catching light reflecting from the scratch and I had to take over 20 pictures from different locations in my home subjected to varying amounts of light before I was able to get decent shots of the scratch. Clicking on either of the above images will open a full size picture in a new window. I have labelled the areas where the scratch is.

 

Contacting 39DollarGlasses – Jan 16, 2006 (continued)

I went to the 39dollarglasses website and filled out their online form, giving as much detail about the scratch as I could, and asking what their policy is in this situation. By Friday, Jan 20th (4 days later), I had not received a response, so I sent another message via their online form. Monday morning (23rd), I receieved the following reply:

Thank you for your inquiry. We are sorry to hear you received your new glasses with a scratch in the lens. We sincerely apologize if we may have caused you any inconvenience. We will be glad to remake the scratched lens for free of charge. Please send the glasses back along with the original invoice and a note describing the problem to:
39dollarglasses.com
3075 Veterans Memorial Hwy.
Suite 230
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Once we receive the glasses, we will give you a courtesy call.

On Jan 26th, I sent the glasses back via Xpresspost (a postal method which includes tracking information) I included a picture and a description as well. Fast forward to February 17th, and I had not received the glasses, nor had I been given the courtesy call. I sent an email asking for an update to the status of the glasses. After the weekend (Feb 20th), I received the following in an email:

Thank you for your inquiry. We had received your glasses on February 2nd and sent them to the lab to have the right lens remade due to the scratches we found. Your remake order was shipped out on February 15th via USPS Global Priority Mail. This service can take within 7-14 business days to deliver. If the order does not arrive by March 6th, please contact us.

 

Replacement Glasses Received – Feb 23, 2006

I received my glasses in the mail. I took pictures of the packaging, but it was packaged almost identically to the way I received them originally, so there’s little point in including another set. However, there was a problem… Yes, they replaced the lens, but believe it or not, the new lens had a scratch in it. I kid you not, there are pictures below.

39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Replacement Glasses scratch close-up 1 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Replacement Glasses scratch close-up 2 39 Dollar Glasses review - Feb 2006 - Replacement Glasses scratch close-up 3
These were taken with a different digital camera, as it caught the images much better. However, the close-ups are a little blurry. Click any of the images to open in a new window. Before anyone asks, no, it’s not the same scratch. this one actually extends across the entire length of the lens (the other began 5mm from the top). Also, this one is slightly to the right.

 

Replacement Glasses Received – Feb 23, 2006 (continued)

At this point in time, I’ve given up, and decided to leave things where they are. Rather than paying shipping to send the glasses back again (and waiting until late March / early April to receive them back again), it’s got to the point where both myself and readers should have an idea of what you might expect from 39 Dollar Glasses. The money spent in shipping would probably be better spent purchasing new glasses from another retailer to review anyway. The glasses are still perfectly useable 90% of the time. For the rest of the time when a reflection becomes an issue, I have other pairs.

You can probably guess what I’m about to say now. I’m extremely disappointed with my experience with 39 Dollar Glasses. To be honest, the scratch didn’t bother me that much to begin with. In fact, the only reason I sent back the glasses was for the sake of this review. With a minor issue, I usually won’t bother contacting the retailers before placing the review. After all, these are discount retailers, and I expect that minor flaws may present themselves from time to time, and I will simply include them in my review. However, on major issues (which I believe a scratch like that is), I will always contact the retailer and ask if they will fix it, even if I normally wouldn’t have personally. I then wait until the retailer has had their opportunity to resolve the situation before posting the review. Before you ask “why not post the first half and then update it later”, it’s because I know for a fact that quite a few retailers visit this site, and if I were to post half a review, they would immediately be able to determine which customer I am, and I can guarantee you that in some cases my glasses would receive special treatment and care, and you would not receive a fair review.

 

So what in particular was I disappointed with?

A few extremely minor issues first of all. The order page was never updated, the glasses had some sort of debris on them the first time I received them, it took 2 messages before I got a response the first time, and I wasn’t given the “courtesy call” they told me I would receive when they got my glasses back. None of those are major issues, but are all worth mentioning.

The one major issue I had was of course the scratched lens. I know mistakes and oversights do happen. However both times, before sending me the glasses, a simple 5 second inspection would have easily caught the scratch. Remember, when I returned the glasses the first time, I also sent a detailed explanation and even had a picture with the scratch circled. I would think that in a situation like that, a retailer would at least take a little extra care in ensuring everything is right the second time around, but it seems in this case, that was not so.

Depite all that, there is some good to be said for them. Ordering from their website was a breeze, and aside from the scratched lens, the quality of the glasses seems to be really good. The customer service was also pretty good, as they got back to me within one business day (2 out of 3 times anyway). They also didn’t give me any hassle, and were quick to accept the glasses back to have the lens remade.

Total time between ordering and delivery (first time): 12 days
Total time between returning glasses and receiving them: 28 days

 

Would I buy from 39DollarGlasses again based on this purchase?

Probably not.

 

Would I recommend 39DollarGlasses to others based on this purchase?

Maybe. They wouldn’t be one of the first places I’d recommend, but they do have a few things going for them. First of all, despite my experience, I don’t hear a lot of bad about them, so I have to assume that it’s because the quality is usually fairly high. Customer service itself seems to be good as well, and they’re also one of very few who have resolved every one of their BBB complaints.

 

Update:

A long time has passed since this review. I was eventually contacted by someone on behalf of 39 Dollar Glasses who assured me that the owner had taken steps to improve quality assurance on their end, and indeed the 2nd time around in 2009 I didn’t run into any issues. I should also note that complaints that I’ve received about 39 Dollar Glasses have been extremely rare over the years (they’re doing well above the average). So keep in mind that so far as I can tell, my experience in this case appears to have been far from the norm.

 

Click here to visit the 39 Dollar Glasses website / Click here to go to the 39 Dollar Glasses information page

 

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