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Incompetence in Action: $10 Eyeglasses from a Myopic Company

Written by Gary North on February 28, 2013

I want to buy several pairs of eyeglasses. I want them in several rooms in my house. I am tired of not finding my reading glasses next to my books, my distance vision glasses not in the TV room, etc.

I went to an eyeglasses firm in the town’s upscale mall. It was a very nice store. It had carpeting. I sat down. And sat. And sat. No one came up to me to tell me how long I had to wait. Every salesman was busy. The store was large compared to the number of salesmen: a bad sign, price-wise. I knew two things: (1) the prices would be high; (2) my time is valuable. I left after 15 minutes.

I then went to Sam’s Club. I paid $60 for the examination. Then they produced a pair for me for $110. I supplied the frames. It took a week. The prescription was wrong. I took them back. They ordered a new prescription. They never called me to tell me that the new pair had come in. I had to walk in and ask. These lenses still do not work well on close-up vision for reading. My time is valuable. I gave up.

So, I went to Walmart. The exam was $49. I got a better exam. But the store wanted $30 for frames and $100 for lenses.

I decided to spend $30 to buy a pair from an online store. If they get it right the first time, I will go back for more.

So, here was what I did. I went to Top Ten Reviews. I always start here. Sure enough, there were ratings for online glasses. You can read the report here:


The top-rated company sells at nine times the price. So, I went to the second-ranked company. That is when my troubles began.

I clicked through from Top Ten Reviews. I was offered a $20 discount coupon for first-time buyers. A deal! It was good for 24 hours. No problem! Boy, was I naive.

The company? Globaleyeglasses.com.

First, I registered. Anyway, I tried to register. There were two boxes: billing address and shipping address. My credit card’s billing address is a P.O. box. So, I typed in my mailing address. It was posted on the billing address. I changed the billing address. This updated the shipping address. The sign-in says you get two choices. In fact, you don’t.

The webmaster is not minding the store.

I wanted a solution. I looked for a Contact Us option. I noticed something odd.

It’s 2013. The webmaster had forgotten to update it. It is late February.

The webmaster is not minding the store.

I sent a note to customer service about these site problems. I was immediately contacted. The representative said he had forwarded my note to the department in charge. That was a good sign.

Second, I started looking for frames. They were in the $30 range. But I had a $20 discount coupon for my first order. Smart marketing.

I eventually clicked on two frames. I loaded them into My Shortlist. I continued shopping. Nothing impresed me. So, I decided to order one pair of frames. I decided to blip the other. I clicked this: Remove from Shortlist. Nothing happened. I clicked it again. Nothing happened.

The webmaster is not minding the store.

I sent another warning to the customer service guy. He told me to call a toll-free number to order.

I did. The sound was horrible. There were drop-offs every few seconds. When I spoke with a salesman, I could barely understand him. He had a foreign accent. The sound kept breaking up. He told me they were having problems with the phones. He said to call back later. I did: hours later. Nothing had changed.

It’s not just the webmaster who is not minding the store. Senior management is not minding the store.

I figured I would give them a day to fix the site. I went back this morning. Nothing has changed. It’s still 2012 at Globaleyeglasses.com.

Here is the webmaster’s outlook. “Customer feedback? We don’t need no stinking customer feedback!”

Here is his supervisor’s attitude: “No problem. I trust him. You can trust me on this.”

Here is senior management’s problem: “Out of site, out of mind.”

All sites default to “Webmaster in charge.” Senior management must take steps to avoid this. Senior management needs to hire a full-time beta-tester whose only job is to go through the site daily, ordering stuff. He must make sure everything works. Otherwise, the webmaster will remain in charge. Webmasters should never be trusted to get it right the first time or any time. They are normally in “Don’t bother me” mode.

If senior managers refuse to do this, the company will continue to lose orders. Then, one fine day, they will read an article like this one.

I did find an answer: the third-ranked firm. It is here:


I hope someone in senior management at Zenni reads this, and gets the message: hire a full-time beta-tester before things wind up the way they are at Globaleyeglasses.

As for some senior manager at Globaleyeglasses, I say this: consider this article as non-customer feedback. I know that the webmaster wants no customer feedback. He forgets what should be obvious: one alternative is non-customer feedback.

Now for the final foul-up. Google has placed an automatic ad for Globaleyeglasses on this article’s page. My advice: ignore the ad.

The free market works. This is how it works, step by step, offer by offer, customer by customer, non-customer by non-customer. Competition is relentless. This is good for customers and bad for senior managers who are not minding the store.

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57 thoughts on “Incompetence in Action: $10 Eyeglasses from a Myopic Company

  1. I have also had good experiences at Zenni. And, fortunately, that's the ad I see on this post.

  2. 3 pair reading glasses at Sam's for 20 dollars.

  3. Fred Campbell says:

    I have used Zenni Optical twice over the past year.

    The glasses were exactly as represented. Excellent price. Delivered in about 2 to 3 weeks from China.

    No hassle about expired prescriptions (my eyes have not changed in decades), "expiration" of prescriptions is a gimmick to drag you back to the optometrist).

    Minor considerations: The Chinese lens blanks appear to be smaller than is typical from the American market. Ergo, the lens sizes available from Zenni are more limited than is the case of an American supplier. The nose pads of the frames, as delivered, are also (apparently) spaced to fit spaced to fit a slightly narrower oriental nose (correctable using a long-nosed pliers).

    I hate to shun American suppliers but the Chinese have, (in true capitalist style) earned a piece of this market.

  4. LOL…… What…..no prerecorded "press 1 for…", "press 2 for…", "press 3 for…" …."We're sorry, all representatives are busy. Please hold for the next available representive for service"……then the obnoxious elevator music blasts!

  5. In short:

    Pay a few hundred dollars at a small, locally owned eyeglass shop. Spend the time you save doing something to earn more money, not experimenting with a half dozen cheap-ass, foreign-sponsored corporate outfits.

    Then write an article about how you were part of the solution.

  6. hanginjudge says:

    Sorry I can't agree with you folks on the Zenni recomendation. Ordered my glasses there, got them in and put them on. Thought I was underwater. Called up the company on the chat line (nice feature) spoke texted my problem to the rep who asked me what my order number was so I gave her the number that came in with the glasses. She responded with Hi Angela! Not my name! I know this for a fact since I am a guy! OOPS! Sorry we sent you someone else's order. Please send the glasses back and we will contact the people that got your glasses. When we get them back we will send them to you. OK I said how long will this take. Answer we don't know it all depends on when we receive your glasses back from the person that has them. Well to make a long story shorter I received my glasses about a month after that making the total wait time more than 6 weeks. They were still wrong!

    Marched on down to the local optometrist had my eyes examined again, ordered glasses, had them in a week, didn't like them brought them back had the lenses replaced on the spot since I had called the day before to tell him I wasn't happy with them walked out as a happy customer. No they didn't cost $10, they cost far more than that. I lost the $60.00 I spent at Zenni's but learned a great lesson. Somethings just need to be handled on a more personal level. To those who have had success with buying glasses online and I am sure there are many of you, that's great! But it didn't work out for me!

  7. Jacob Theodore says:

    I had cataract surgery, so both my eyes are now fixed focus but they have the same 'prescription' ( I had them set for infinity). I go down to Dollar Tree and buy a handful of glasses for a buck each, in different strengths. Some I leave by the computer, some I leave in the car. I strew them around the house. Life is good at a buck a pair. And, no, they are not 'fashion eyeware', because I don't fall for that crap about making me more attractive. It's my fat wallet, three homes, and world travel that makes me attractive to women, and that's because I don't waste my money on expensive glasses.

  8. Go to the Dollar tree,They have the same glasses,when lost broken or whatever,you have not lost much.I agree with Jacob Atta way to go dollar Tree. You can always find a good deal there.

  9. I have been purchasing new progressive trifocals from Zenni every year for the past 3 years. I often buy more than one pair at a time. They have been fantastic. The last ones I ordered arrived in one week. The local optician's office wanted $368 just for the lenses. I got two pairs of complete glasses with magnetic sunglasses, cases and shipping for less than $100. I am sold for life.

  10. Dr. North,

    You should be using Warby Parker. You won't have to leave your home. They'll FedEx you 5 frames at a time to try on in the leisure of your home, and they'll mail you the completed glasses. Great customer service and money-back guarantee. Warby Parker's business model is to use the efficiencies of the Internet to disrupt the high-markup eyeglass industry.

    As your blog post suggests, the eyeglass industry is begging for disruption. Warby Parker does it right. Very happy with their service. I am not employed by them, nor do I represent them in any way. Here's more on their business model: http://www.foundedproject.com/2011/02/warbyparker

  11. nhwasserman says:

    I guess your time is not worth what you think. Why don't you go to a privant practioner(an Optometrist in private practice) and get a professional eye exam, that rules out diseases of the eyes & generally you get a more caring & much better.
    Your eyes are definitely worth more than you have alloted them. Consumer reports that people who deal with private practioners are definitely happier. Remember that you wouldn't shop for the best price for brain surgery, would you?

    I went thru the same ordeal that you did, but I learned my lesson.
    Good luck,NHW

  12. Sorry, I mistyped the link, Warby Parker is here:

  13. Same here! Zenni is quite good.

  14. Actually, the prescription doesn't really "expire", but your eyes do degrade over time, necessitating repeat visits to your eye doctor to alter the prescription and get you glasses that work properly. If you use the same glasses for years, but your eyes continue to degrade, you're really just making things worse for yourself.

  15. I got several pairs of reading glasses from dollar tree too! For a cheap price I have a pair for my purse, a pair at my desk at work, a pair in the kitchen, and a pair in the living room. The frames don't always last long, but so what, it's only a dollar!

  16. I've had pretty good results with America's Best, a chain brick-n-mortar place. Two pairs for $70 with a free exam.

  17. I have been a professional optician for over 20 years. I can tell you that with rare exception, you get what you pay for. A recent study by the American Optometric Association has found that nearly half of all eyeglasses purchased online come back wrong (wrong prescription, features added/ not included, measurements off, etc.) Another helpful tip: Avoid the "big-box" stores and the nationwide chains. You will get much better customer service and a better product from an independent.

  18. The problem with both "big box" stores and "independent" stores is that they all offer products with a huge markup and don't offer very good customer service. The frames and lenses all come from the same place!

    Warby Parker, on the other hand, makes their own frames and offers all styles at the same price: $95. There's a reason why they disrupt the eyeglass industry: they are outside of the markup industry and supply chain.

  19. Wow, glasses from China, at a bargain price. Such a deal! I'm sure those slave-laborers working in the Chinese sweatshops don't mind being enslaved. Who here cares about the cost of human suffering, just so we might save a few bucks.

  20. I am an Optometric Physician who has been in practice for 30 years. It never fails to amaze how some people place such little value on their vision. They will spend much time, money and effort on cataract surgery and buy dollar glasses to correct their vision afterward. These inferior lenses are loaded with distortion and produce eye strain. Spend the money and get a high quality prescription reading or computer lens, you will be amazed how enjoyable near vision tasks can be.

  21. There's always at least two sides to any story. I worked for the Chinese for four years. I got to know something about them and their lives in China. You might want to educate yourself about China and their "slave labor." I suggest reading "Factory Girls" by Leslie T. Chang before you come down too hard on the conditions there. Yes, conditions are deplorable by American standards, but a real job in China that pays a few dollars a week, especially for young women, is an opportunity to support themselves and often other family members. You may be shocked at how little they earn (by American standards), but the alternative is the street. Many young country girls who come to the cities looking for work are lured into the brothels and they're never heard from again. However, hundreds of thousands work in assembly lines, high-tech manufacturing, textiles, etc. and are happy to have the job that allows them a measure of independence. You cannot fairly compare them to American standards; you must understand the world in which they live.

  22. I got my last pair of glasses at eyebuydirect.com. I paid $68.88 including shipping for titanium half framed, progressive lenses, and water/oil risistant, anti-glare treatment. When I got them, one nose piece was faulty. I went to the chat function on their website and in a few days I had three sets of nose pieces and screws. The ones I bought last year from Vision World were the same specs and cost almost $400. They also scratched worse and more quickly than any set I've had in the last 25 years. That's what led me to purchasing online. I will get my exam locally, but my glasses are going to be ordered online.

  23. What I did was go to "Dollar Tree" brought 5 pairs of reading glasses put them in all the area I wanted and a pair around my neck. They work as good as my prescription pair at way less the cost. Which by the by was $1 a pair. Best reading glasses I ever had.

  24. We have a “$29.95 Eyeglasses” here in San Antonio. I took them my old Rx and they showed me a few dozen frames. I picked the one my wife liked and got my glasses two days later for $29.95 + 8.2% tax. No muss, no fuss. They will have my repeat custom as long as I live.

  25. I'm all for helping out mom and pop shops, but what you are suggesting flies in the face of the free market. If more people did as you suggested prices would go even higher.

  26. ralph_swan says:

    Been doing the dollar store glasses for 7-8 years. As long as you can see distance but need a bit of help on the close in stuff the $1/pair is the only way to go. I too buy multiple pairs, leave them everywhere. A pair in every bathroom. A couple pair in the desk at work. Several more in the console of the truck. A pair in the top drawer of every tool box. Two pair right here by the computer.

    They aren't perfect. I still squint a bit sometimes. but for the price, I'll squint a bit

  27. I go to the local drug store , try on a few pair off the rack , always find some that work well , buy them for ten or twelve dollars . end of adventure .

  28. burtfisher says:

    I suggest that the story was not about eyeglasses, or that Dr. North was looking for suggestions about where to buy some. I recommend that you read his last paragraph again.

    I'd also suggest that you consider what might happen if the Government were to step in and fix this "problem" we have ordering things online. They would create a new "Department" or "Bureau" and staff it with these same failed senior managers who were unable to cut it in the private sector. They would now be the ones making the rules, central planning, and probably even getting revenge on their former business rivals who put them out of business by showing their incompetence.

  29. I have been buying from Zenni for several years now and am extremely pleased with every pair of glasses I have received from them. I was skeptical about the quality of the lenses due to the price so I took them to checked out. I bought a nearly identical pair to what a local optometrist had made for me that I paid over $400 for (frameless style with titanium temples). The Zenni pair was $28.90. Well wouldn't you know the Zenni glasses were made more accurately to my prescription than the $400 pair. Zenni absolutely destroys the "you get what you pay for" myth, because at least where I live you DON'T get what you deservedly paid for. As to the "slave-laborers working in the Chinese sweatshops" that comment was obviously made by someone who has never been to China. Their work conditions are certainly not the same as in America, but having witnessed them, I can tell you the conditions are reasonable and certainly more dignified than the large percentage of entitlement recipients here in the U.S.

  30. Cheapskate!

  31. Wow, somebody who actually read and understood the story!

  32. Dear Fred, I am an Optician to start with. Second, the reason your prescriptions expire is because the Dr. wants to insure you have no problems with your eyes. That is why it is suggested that if you are over 40 (as your picture indicates) you should have a healthcheck of your eyes every year. Why, because that is when you become more susceptible to medical conditions of the eye which can cause permanent sight loss!!! A few examples of this are Glaucoma, Cataracts, Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration. These conditions, if detected early enough, can be stopped or prevented from causing sight loss. In many instances i you wait until you notice something wrong, it is already too late. So you can avoid the"DR GIMMICK", but it's a high price to pay for being cheap and uninformed!!! Also, I hope your children lose their jobs to the Chinese you seem so willing to trust your eyes to because I'm sure they're much more concerned about your prescription being correct for you!!! And what is the saying? "If your not part of the soltion, you're part of the problem"!!!

  33. I started to reply to Desert_Don, but I saw your post first. What you say is probably true enough, but the main point, to me, is that no one forced those people to work at those "sweatshops". That's all that need be said.

  34. You didn't exactly say so, but I take it that you like Zenni. Too bad that you didn't express your thoughts more clearly and more directly. What you wrote can hardly be thought of as an endorsement.

  35. I wasn't sure I'd use reading glasses so the last time I had an eye exam I asked the doctor what strength of drugstore reading glasses I should buy to try them out. He gave me the number. I went to Walgreens which had a Buy one get one free sale. The result: two pairs for $15 dollars. Later I went back on another BOGO free sale and bought two pairs for $10. Four pairs for $25. One pair in my purse, and the other three scattered throughout the house. Works for me.

  36. How ironic! I went to Zenni and couldn't get past the "progressive" checkmark. Then I looked at the bottom of the site and it says "2003-2012." I guess the webmaster isn't doing his job on that one either.

  37. I like this site! I can afford several,pair rather than spending the $750 for one pair the local store wants. By the time I save enough for the high end glasses my newest prescription changes. Getting older sucks.

  38. I value my vision a lot however, I am lose, break and scratch them., take them off to look under the microscope, to sleep. Dog chews them, they fall out of the car onto the asphalt, I roll over asleep with them on and they fall under the cushion where they get crunched.. My trifocals cost over $700 a pair. Warby Parker does not do trifocals or bifocals. Last year I bout 5 pairs. Who can affor $700 a pair?

  39. Hahahaha! You got what you paid for, sir.

    At least your valuable time and precious money wasn't thrown away on some horrid, deranged, domestically raised, educated and trained, perhaps even White, optician. Why he or she might even have been a closeted eugenist!

    Oh the horror of it! I can barely keep my composure contemplating such an awful possibility. You should congratulate yourself for having worked so diligently and long to avoid it.

    Who was it that said there are none so blind as those who will not see?

  40. Mike Gray says:

    I buy reading glasses 20 pair at a time for a dollar each when they are on sale. I use a clean pair each day until I have about 15 pair dirty ones. Then I put the dirty ones in the dish washer to bulk clean. I dry them all out of the dishwasher with a clean hand towel while still wet.

  41. Pat and SHane, overcharging and trying to use fear to justify high prices are the real problem here.

  42. Ellen of Tasmania says:

    Three ways sweatshops are good for the poor. –


    Many of these issues are far more complex than we might think Desert_Don.

  43. RogerfromMA says:

    I must agree! My independent Optometrist owned shop gives me knock your socks off service, along with very high quality on my trifocals. As a business owner, I do value my eyesight, and I know my local provider appreciates my business. I feel good investing in my community as well.

    Sorry, Gary. I think you're being a bit too cheap in this situation for your own good. But at least you're getting cash from your google ads!:-)

  44. Just imagine if everyone avoided Chinese products for e "good" of the poor Chinese working in these "sweatshops". half of tthem would have no work at all and their condition would be much worse off. You may think you have their welfare at herat but cnsder the consequences of your actions. Plus although their wages may be small by American standars ther cost of living is minscule as well. Who are you to tell them they shouldn't work at wages and under conditions they find acceptable? Many of them left farms and moved to cities for just such an opportunity… for them it is a step up. And you want ot keep them on the farm for their own good? Sounds pretty egocentric to me.

  45. sorry my keyboard is acting up. It should have been… "heart" , "consider", "standards", "to"


  47. If the Chinese don't mind, why should I? If US unions and govt regulators were more reasonable and consumer/business-friendly, China wouldn't be taking so many of our jobs!

  48. In her revealing 60 Minutes report, Stahl discovered that Luxottica, the Italian eyewear manufacturer, owns nearly every recognizable brand of eyewear in the world. Top designer brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Coach, Dolce Gabbana, Prada, Tiffany, Bulgari and dozens of others are all designed and manufactured by Luxottica. And it doesn’t stop there. Luxottica also owns a majority of the eyewear stores in the United States. Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Oliver Peoples, Sears Optical, and Target Optical are all owned by the Italian company.
    &lt ;http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7424700n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing>

  49. I would like the contract information for the author. I want to draw the practices of Straight Talk Cellular to his attention. While they advertize unlimited talk, text, and data for $45 a month they cut off data if you use too much.

    Someone please post information on how to call or write this contributor.

  50. Sorry Pat, your scare tactics are not holding water. The key discussion here is not whether the customer gets an eye exam, but the arbitrary “expiration” of a refraction prescription, which frequently does NOT change for years in many. Your vociferous objection to the Chinese supplied optics simply confirms my observations from opticians that supply eyewear in the U.S. – they frequently only carry designer frames, and their “options” for the lenses would bankrupt many a customer, especially in the face of company “insurance” with “free” frames, $100.00 toward lenses and you STILL cannot walk out for less than $200 – $300.00

    Costco at al have reasonable frames but their lenses are pricey. I will try Zenni in the future and see the results for myself. If acceptable, I will order several more.

  51. SomeDude says:

    So, you’re saying that prices would increase, local businesses would have the capacity to invest more and pay higher salaries, thereby putting more money back into the local economy…at ZERO net cost to ANYONE on the local level. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s everything right with that. This is the problem with America. The idea that it’s better to spend a day shopping for an online bargain to save a few bucks and send your money overseas instead of working those extra hours to earn more money to keep the money local is exactly why the manufacturing jobs have moved to Mexico and China. Over the past 75 years Americans got rich (compared to the rest of the world) and simply decided to sit on their asses and get richer by buying their goods cheaply from foreigners. But now that the gravy train is slowing down, and they have to put forth extra effort to keep their cash, they’d still rather sit on their asses and poke away on a keyboard than get off their asses and provide something, whether it be labor, a product, service, whatever.

    There are no Easy Street ways to prosperity. People can either cry about having to work a little harder to pay more to build our nation…or cry about spending a day shopping online for eyeglasses and send their money to foreigners. If you’re going to cry about it either way, you might as well cry your way to prosperity.

    This much I know: while Americans are whining about jobs and “benefits” and the cost of goods and services rising, with large-scale manufacturing practically nonexistent (excluding subsidized, unionized Detroit), China and India are producing. They’re producing not only products but MINDS. Americans don’t realize they’ve only got one thing left (military strength) when the East wakes up and the rest of the world realizes the gratest scientific, creative, and innovative minds are no longer in the West.

    And what will we do then? What we know best…we’ll attack them to “defend our way of life”.

  52. I go to the 99 cent store and get 10 pairs for $9.99. that way if I lose or smash em – no worry!

  53. Disciple Deb says:

    If all you need are non-prescription reader-cheater glasses, you can find these at any dollar store in all strengths (+1.25 to +4.0) and they usually have an eye chart so you can purchase the ones best for you.

    Occasionally the dollar stores receive great-quality overstock of brands with protective cases that sell in retail stores for $15.99. My husband and I found a great brand in our local dollar store last year and of course, we purchased 15 of them and placed them in all the rooms in our house, our vehicles, my purse, etc. They are especially helpful in reading recipes, labels (kitchen, bath, Rx) as well as restaurant menus. Sometimes these stores even offer reader sunglasses, good for close work in the sunlight (reading seed labels, etc). This year I plan to buy a bunch to donate to our church's eye care ministry in Kenya.

  54. Solution:
    1. Tell Vendor to pound sand (as to the wait until they return yours scenario) – you DEMAND a new set immediately. Tell them that failure to do so via express mail will result in:
    2. Call Credit Card company and demand a charge reversal. Use emails / recorded evidence for justification. Disputed charge gets flagged immediately.
    3. Receive refund on Credit card as vendor cannot prove correct item was delivered.
    4. Ask Credit card to change number and send new card so vendor cannot charge for item again.
    5. Rinse and repeat.

  55. Glad to see that. I live in the San Antonio area, will be checking those folks out. Getting tired of buying crappy reading glasses.

  56. got the worst exam and the worst glasses from the optometrist, tried 4 . One tried to sell me weekly vists for my beginning glaucoma and get really angry for my refusal by saying it was not needed, then he asked real snooty like where I got my degree. that is when I told him he wasnt really a doctor and left. They really are not drs. Gave up and went back to my ohphthalmologist, (MD) he said there was no sign of glaucoma and told me this is their new money making scam ans several of his patients have told him the same thing. Got my Rx and went to the local discount optical shop and all was well.

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