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July 06, 2010

Eyeglasses Online

I haven't considered shopping online for glasses until just recently. So far I felt it was worth it to pay any mark up and be able to shop in person and ensure I was getting the absolute best since I wear glasses all day every day. But a couple things changed my mind recently. When I went shopping for glasses at the doctors office, they didn't really have that great a selection and they weren't really all the interested in selling me some. Since I didn't really find anything I wanted and nothing else was forth coming there, I decided to leave without buying anything. When I got home, it started to occur to me that I could actually shop online. But this was only because of a few circumstances that hadn't been true before. While browsing for frames the ones I ended up picking were nearly identical in shape and size to what I was currently wearing and when I got home, I searched through my old frames to find my last pair were also nearly identical as well. Furthermore most of my previous frames were of the same size. That narrowed it right now, it would be easy to find frames of the same shape and size online instead of having to try them on in person. And secondly I now had an up to date prescription in hand. So I browsed a few places online and could generally find a suitable frame at each one. From past experience I know that my prescription and lens requirements won't work with the advertised prices on most sites but still I found the prices to be vastly cheaper. To the point where I would save hundreds of dollars.

I looked around a few of the bigger sites online and there were lots of comparable options. I had it narrowed down to just a handful based on who had the best prices for the top end lenses I need/want, namely Zenni Optical, 39DollarGlasses.com and EyeBuyDirect.com. I ended up settling on clearlycontacts.ca. They are the only one really setup especially for Canada, and offer a 100% refund on returns. The coupon code I found at RFD for 20% off pushed their prices in line with the others from the US (Ask me for a referral and 10% off coupon). The only gotcha I found so far with is the handling and insurance fee tacked on at the very end...not quite free shipping after all. Some interesting things I noticed while shopping, almost every place I looked at a fairly limited set of frame options although I was able to find a couple I liked at each place, but none of them really had any of the same frames. The prices for everything from frames to lenses to coatings varied quite dramatically between the different vendors. Several places have a virtual try on feature where you can upload a picture and overlay the frames on top of it, which can be quite handy. Picking out frames still proved to be quite challenging even with the very limited parameters I was using. Even when looking very closely at all the pictures and options for viewing the frames, subtle differences were easy to miss sometimes. But in the end I got something I'm quite satisfied with for around $400 less than the alternative. I'm looking to try another location to buy some prescription sunglasses as well.

Update: About a month after receiving my glasses from Clearly Contacts I managed to trip and fall into a rock face first. There was a little damage to the glasses as a result, some scrapped paint and a bent nose piece. I emailed Clearly Contacts asking how I could buy a replacement frame. But instead I simply got an email back telling me to send the glasses in and they would swap out the frames. A short time later and they sent me a brand new set of frames and lenses for no charge.

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