- Appear to be moving out of discount arena and into name-brand selections with frames effectively starting at $48 + 7% handling fee (including lenses) with polycarbonate lenses for single-vision.
- Carries designer name-brand fashion frames such as Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Diesel, Armani, Gucci, Guess, Nike, etc (generally between $50-100 + 7% handling fee), making them a viable retailer for low-cost glasses whether someone's looking for discount or name brand frames.
- Add 7% handling fee to each order.
- Free AR & UV on lenses.
- Pay Later aka "Bill me later" - Coastal Contacts is one of the only retailers that will send you your order before you've paid (US orders only). If you go this route, you'll receive an invoice along with your glasses (which must be paid within 15 days).
- Coastal is also a large contact lens retailer.
- B+ rating with the BBB.
Coastal (formerly "Coastal Contacts") is located in the US (WA). Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision and progressive glasses, the majority of which come in name brand designer frames. Methods of contact include a phone number, a toll free number, a fax number, e-mail, and a mailing address. They accept Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, PayPal, and "Bill Me Later". The BBB lists them with a B+ rating.
Note that in addition to the US version of the site (which can be used by anyone world-wide), they have Canadian, Australian, UK, and NZ specific sites as well, each offering glasses in their respective currencies and shipping from their respective countries. This review applies to the US version (it's the only that ships worldwide), but I've also included a small blurb about the Canadian version below, simply because it's become so popular.
Note for those in Canada (if you don't live in Canada, please ignore this italicized section and just scroll down to continue reading the US version):
Coastal also has a Canadian site called Clearly Contacts (http://www.clearlycontacts.ca) which has become popular rather quickly, and is catered towards Canadians. Prices are comparable, except they're in CDN dollars. In the past, as soon as you entered your address, the order was placed without confirmation. However, it looks like this may have changed.
If you live in Canada, whether you order from Coastal.com (US), or from ClearlyContacts.ca (CAN), your glasses will probably be shipped from the ClearlyContacts.ca location in Vancouver, BC. Therefore, order from whichever website you prefer (or whichever works out to be a better price), keeping in mind that the US version may offer some cheaper frames, but the Canadian version will charge you in CDN dollars.
Coastal was originally a contact lens retailer (and a fairly popular one at that) known as "Coatal Contacts" until they expanded into eyeglass offerings as well. One thing that really sets them apart from others is the ability to "Checkout without Payment". This applies to US orders only, but for those a little squeemish when it comes to submitting credit card information online, it may be a welcome option. If you choose this option, your glasses are shipped along with an invoice that must be paid within 15 days.
While Coastal used to carry a small selection of frames starting at $6.95, those offerings appear to have been dropped, and the offerings now begin at $38. The brand name selection on the other hand generally starts at around the $50 mark which technically qualifies those as being in the discount price range as well. There is considerably more selection as you step up to the $75 mark although that effectively takes them out of the "discount" position. That said, you typically get popular name-brand designer glasses such as Hugo Boss, Armani, Nike, and Calvin Klein offerings beginning at that range. Coastal Contacts seems to cater towards the individual who wants name-brand glasses for as close to the discount-price-range as possible.
It would be hard not to mention their ongoing "first pair free" promotion. I'm not clear as to how it was introduced in the US, but in Canada they started by offering free pairs in certain cities as time-limited offers. Eventually, it grew to the point where it's no longer time-limited - anyone can get a first pair for free. Note that not every frame qualifies for "first pair free" - however, they're quite clear as to which frames are excluded. The first pair free program that ran over a number of years ended at the end of July/2014.
The majority of their frames are name brand, and include free basic single-vision lenses with free AR.
Single-vision polycarbonate lenses (1.59 index) come free with the frame. They include free AR, anti-scratch, and UV coatings. Bifocals are available for about $48 extra (1.58 index), and Progressives for about $73 (1.59 polycarbonate). Photochromic and Polarized lens options are available as well.
Website and Ordering:
The Coastal site is clean and intuitive. Information is provided without being overwhelming, and everything is pretty straightforward.
When it comes time to order, the process has been very simplified to the point where if you've looked at other retailers, you might feel like it's being a little "dumbed-down". I'm still a little torn as to whether I like or dislike it – if nothing else, it's unique/different. You start by choosing Distance, Bifocal/Progressive, or Reading. The next option is for clear, photochromic, or "sunglasses" lenses (polarized). Finally, you're shown the lens indexes available.
Pricing and Value:
Frames begin at the $38 mark which is in the upper-region of the discount retailers, though $48 is where options really come about (and you can usually find a couple name-brand lenses at that price point too).
One very unpleasant note is the "Handling & Insurance" charge of a few bucks (I believe it's 7% of your subtotal). This is a practice I personally hate which originated in the contact lens area – these charges should be integrated into the cost of the product (or the cost of shipping) – not snuck in at the end. That said, it's not a lot, but because it's not easily quantifiable for the consumer, it's a practice that deserves to be attacked, and thus is why I chose to mention it.
On to more positive things, there's a heavy emphasis on polycarbonate lenses, and all coatings are provided for free.
Lens offerings (in addition to the cost of the frames):
|1.58 index||+$95 (sale $47.50)|
|1.59 index (polycarbonate)||free||+$145 (sale $72.50)|
|1.61 index||+$25 (sale $12.50)|
|1.67 index||+$60 (sale $30)||+$175 (sale $87.50)|
|Transitions VI 1.59 index (polycarbonate) grey||+$95 (sale $47.50)|
|Photochromic 1.58 index grey||+$145 (sale $72.50)|
|Photochromic 1.61 index grey||+$125 (sale $62.50)|
|Polarized 1.59 index (polycarbonate) grey or brown||+$75 (sale $37.50)||+$175 (sale $87.50) (free form digital)|
|AR, anti-scratch, UV coatings||free/free/free||free/free/free||free/free/free|
|Handling fee||+ 7%||+ 7%||+ 7%|
Shipping is $7.95 in the US, $9.95 to Canada, and $24.95 internationally.
The price charts are created by hand – if you notice any errors, please contact me.
Coastal is quite competitive in the upper discount range when you consider the name-brand offerings, the free coatings, and polycarbonate lenses. They're not the greatest fit for those seeking under-$20 glasses, regular tints, or high indexes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they certainly don't have as many name-brand frames as the major retailers there.
However, they don't skimp on the indexes (1.58 is the minimum) or coatings and have become well-known in a rather short period of time. And if you're looking for some name brand frames on a budget, they're certainly worth a close look.