You might remember that a year ago I debated buying new prescription glasses online, but ultimately forked over $107 at Costco for the chance to try them on pre-purchase. This time I could not resist a promotion at CoastalContacts.com for free frames and free prescription lenses. (The site gave away 10,000 pairs in a publicity stunt a few weeks ago. If you live in New York, stay tuned for a similar promotion starting Dec. 9, 2010.)
During the free promotion, I picked out a cute pair of Cynthia Rowley reddish-brown and pink frames that the site normally sells for the discounted price of $68. I found them for as high as $130 online. I upgraded to anti-glare and scratch resistant lens, which cost $15, and paid $12 for shipping. My total bill? With tax, $28.67. That’s $78 less than I paid last time, and more than $200 less than my usual tab at Lens Crafters.
My glasses, above, came with a blue cleaning cloth, a black soft carrying case, a silver-colored hard carrying case that is so big it can double as a party purse, and a mini-screw driver set should my frames become unhinged.
The reason why I recommend CoastalContacts.com – and other sites with similar features – is that it took the guessing game out of buying glasses. Would they fit? Were they the right size? Would they look right? I was fairly certain the answers were “yes” before they arrived at my doorstep.
Here’s what took the guesswork, and the risk, out of buying my glasses online.
1. The site had really, really detailed instructions for figuring out what size glasses I needed. It told me to grab my existing pair and find three numbers printed on the inside of frame. That info dictated the right size, along with one measurement I took myself.
2. The site had detailed directions for de-coding what the numbers on my prescription meant.
3. I had a good idea of the frames I wanted from wearing glasses since 2003, though I did consult CoastalContacts’ page on what frames look good with your face shape.
4. A helpful customer service rep confirmed the freebie and told me the site would guide me through the entire process. I was skeptical, but the rep was right.
5. CoastalContacts.com has a 30-day return policy for a full refund.
If youï¿½re still hooked on buying glasses in person, the December issue of ShopSmart magazine, which is published by Consumer Reports, lists their brick-and-mortar faves.
Costco tops the list with a median price of $157 for lenses and frames. This does not include the $50 annual membership fee, however. ShopSmartï¿½s second choice is your local indie optical shop, which had a median price of $211. I find that a bit hard to believe as many indie glasses shops are very high end.
The third choice ï¿½ your doctorï¿½s office – was geared towards folks with strong prescriptions or eye problems. Runners up included Kaiser Permanente and Empire Vision Centers. Lens Crafters came in low on the list, which is interesting because it was the most-frequented chain in the ShopSmart survey.
Have you bought glasses online?