- Sub-$20 pricing – While a number of their frames/options get into higher price points, it's possible to get a very basic pair of prescription glasses for $6.95 plus shipping, clocking in at about $12 total delivered to your door.
- Website – The website design is quite good, easy to navigate, has a polished feel to it, and is well-done in general. The search section is very easy to use.
- Help bubbles ("?") – virtually every prescription/lens option has a well-written help bubble. Even the search options have mouse-over help bubbles. EyeBuyDirect has clearly gone to lengths to ensure that if you don't understand something, there's an explanation ready and waiting for you.
- Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, Paypal available – these are somewhat minor, but they're one of very few retailers who offer these as payment methods (in addition to standard Visa/MC/Amex/Discover) at this point in time.
- Party Glasses offering – to me this seems a little gimmicky, but if you'd like a crystal added to the lens that will make it sparkle, they offer it for $9.95 extra.
- low BBB rating – The BBB is not a fan – they currently carry an "F" rating with the BBB.
- UV protection not included for free – it will set you back an extra $4.95.
- No name-brand designer frames offered.
EyeBuyDirect appears to be located in the US. Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision and bi-focal/progressive lenses, and offer a mailing address, toll-free number, direct line, email address, and an online form as methods of contact. Payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Discover, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, and Paypal. They are listed with the BBB with an "" rating.
The EyeBuyDirect website is very well done. Selection is good, it's very customer-friendly, and it's easy to navigate and move through to purchase. Everything is laid out in a simple manner in a way that feels intuitive and easy to use. Frames with basic lenses start at $6.95 (plus shipping) with an ample selection of frames – at the time of writing there were over 100 frames available at that price point.
A couple strong positives in particular about the site: first, the search is laid out in such a way that it becomes very easy to narrow down the selection to the frames you're interested in. Want to see all the $6.95-$14.95 frames? Just use the slider. Have specific size requirements? A couple drop-down boxes there. There are a number of other search options too, and it's laid out in an inviting way – it just feels quick and easy.
Another positive takes place during the order process – all the lens options and prices are laid out on one page, with helpful (concise while remaining informative) mouseover "?" bubbles beside each one. Most of the selection is done via check-boxes, and the way it's laid out feels very up-front when it comes to what you're getting and the cost.
All is not perfect however – I did come across a downside which really rubs me the wrong way. On the main page they have the "BBB Accredited Business" logo at the bottom. Problem is, they're not BBB accredited. Now, I'm all for trying to make the customer feel comfortable, but this feels really shady. I hate shady. They were BBB-accredited once upon a time, but they certainly haven't been for some time now.
As mentioned above, the glasses start at $6.95, and there is a healthy selection at that price. There are far more frames available at higher price points as well, but I'm happy to see that the $6.95 selection does actually feel like a selection rather than a bait-and-switch. The frame selection overall is quite good, and most types (aside from Designer) can be found for under $50 – most being well spread out in the $25-40 price range. This includes metal, plastic, rimless, sport, flexlite, titanium, etc. Frames are each listed in 1 color. Where they have multiple colors offered for a frame, the frame is simply listed more than once.
Single-vision lenses come free with the frames. Bifocals add $19, Progressives add $39, Free Form adds $49, and Tri-focal adds $69 to the price tag. You can select indexes anywhere from the free standard of 1.5 up to 1.74 in most cases. Six tint colors, gradient tint, Polarized, and Photochromic lens options are available as well. Anti-scratch is free, but AR, water repellence, and UV coatings cost extra.
Website and Ordering:
The EyeBuyDirect website is really quite mature. It's very easy to use, has a lot of easily accessible information (mouse-over popups for nearly everything), and has a new-user-friendly feel to it. Images of frames are very clear. The website has an "EyeTry Now" feature which allows you to upload your own picture and see what the glasses might look like on you. When browsing frames, hovering over any frame with the mouse quickly shows the size, as well as whether it's available in single/bifocal/progressive.
An annoyance is in regard to the UV protection (which costs $4.95)... First, I'm not thrilled when companies charge extra for this. Is there anyone who *isn't* going to be wearing their glasses outside? To me it's slightly worse than when a car dealership charges you extra for floor mats. Even more bothersome is that it remains selectable even if you choose Polycarbonate lenses or the Photochromic option (both of which already have UV). It should probably be greyed out in those situations so that people don't unnecessarily spend an extra $4.95 (or think they need to spend the extra $4.95) on something they're already getting.
That all said, overall it's very step-by-step, all the pricing is laid out very clearly, and it's a quick comfortable process in general.
Pricing and Value:
As indicated previously, frames including basic lenses start at $6.95 with a selection of over 100 frames at that point. Additional price points are at $14.95, $19.95, $29.95, $39.95, and $49.95 with a grand total of over 900 frames (though bear in mind some of these are simply duplicates in additional colors).
The standard free lenses come in a 1.5 index. That's quite low, but fortunately lens upgrades are gradual. However it's worth noting that some of the other retailers in the same price range offer 1.56-1.57 index lenses as their base, which puts EyeBuyDirect at a bit of a competitive disadvantage here.
Lens offerings (based on a $6.95 frame):
The main differences in the chart are in availability (for example, you can not get polycarbonate Bifocals or Progressives). Beyond that, upgrade prices tend to be the same. Trifocals act oddly on the order page (no indexes listed, and all coatings are shown as available). I have a feeling the order page may not be accurate when it comes to trifocals.
|Single vision||Bifocal (+$19)||Progressive (+$39)||Free-Form Progressive (+$49)||Tri-focal (+$69)|
|Thin and Lite (1.57)||+$10.00||+$10.00||+$10.00||+$10.00||?|
|Super Thin (1.6) – standard prescription (free AR)||+$24.95||?|
|Super Thin (1.6) – strong prescription (free AR)||+$39.95||+$39.95||+$39.95||+$39.95||?|
|Ultra Thin (1.67)||+$67.00||+$67.00||+$67.00||?|
|As Thin as possible (1.74)||+$78.40||+$78.40||?|
|Anti Glare (AR)||+$6.95||+$6.95||+$6.95||+$6.95||+$6.95|
|Premium Water Repellant Coating||+$9.95||+$9.95||+$9.95||+$9.95||+$9.95|
|Color Tint (brown, green, grey, purple, blue, yellow)||+$4.95||+$4.95||+$4.95||+$4.95|
|Gradient Tint (only available on certain frame sizes)||+$9.95|
|Polarized (only available on certain frame sizes)||+$32.00||+$32.00|
|Photochromic (only available on 1.57 lenses)||+$35.95||+$35.95||+$35.95||+$35.95|
Shipping is a reasonable $5.95 in the US ($9.95 in Canada) with additional "express" shipping options costing more.
The price charts are created by hand – if you notice any errors, please contact me.
Value-wise, EyeBuyDirect looks to be very competitive. For the most basic pair of $6.95 glasses, you're looking at $12.90 shipped in the US ($4 more to Canada). While being charged for something as standard as UV protection makes me feel like I'm being nickel-and-dimed, to be fair all the options are pretty reasonably priced. Heck, if you spend the extra $11 to get polycarbonate lenses (still staying under $25 total after shipping), you're getting free inherent UV for that. And that's not so bad.
For a back-up pair, a low cost pair, or for a first-time buyer who's hesitant to risk a lot of money on their first purchase, EyeBuyDirect is definitely worth a look.