Thursday, April 2, 2020

EyeBuyDirect - Buying Eyeglasses Online

Strategy Blue Metal Eyeglass Frames from EyeBuyDirect, Angle View

Online eyeglasses can be so cheap, it is worthwhile to at least try them.

Our prescriptions for our eyeglasses were over two years old, so we decided to get them updated.  One other nice thing about getting old is that your prescription doesn't change much.  When you are younger, if you have myopia, your eyes get worse and worse every year, until they level out about age 40.  For those of you who never had to wear glasses or contacts, yes, the rest of us hate you

Just kidding, but it is a PITA to wear glasses.  I briefly (for a few years) wore contacts, and had forgotten how liberating it was not to have metal hanging off your nose, which I had since the third grade.  But over time, my eyes became more and more sensitive to even disposable contacts, and pretty soon, I couldn't wear them for more than a few hours at a time - it happens.  Then bifocals come along, and well, contacts don't help with that, much.

I talked about eyeglasses before.  To date, I had not tried online buying, as I had found glasses cheaply enough at the wholesale club or Walmart.  But lately, their prices have ratcheted up.   My last set, from the wholesale club, was $99 a pair, including lenses, if I bought two pairs.  They lasted a long time, but I tend to scratch lenses after a while, working on cars and things.  Polycarbonate is great stuff, but it tends to scratch easily.   I found that these "anti-reflective coatings" are often not worthwhile, as they tend to do weird things over time - looking scratched or turning rainbow colors and whatnot.  Sometimes less is more, but if I had glass lenses, like the good old days, my glasses would be inches thick.

Lately, though, it seems prices have ratcheted up.  The wholesale club wants over $200 a pair, as does Walmart.  Order a pair plus sunglasses and you're looking at $400 or so.   I ran into a fellow at a gay campground wearing fabulous glasses and I asked him where he got them, and he told me about eyebuydirect.

Well, we forgot about it for a year, and our prescriptions were well overdue. We went to the optometrist at Walmart and had an eye exam for $40.  We went to look at glasses and it was the same old deal - high prices and limited selection.  Few frames in my size (large) and you had to buy what was on the rack - they could not order glasses in different sizes.   Frames were like $99 plus another $150 to $200 for lenses (!!!).  The wholesale club was the same deal - hit or miss.  If you found a pair you liked on their racks, you were in luck.  If not, well, too bad for you.

Looking back through my drawer full of old glasses - about seven or eight pairs! - I realized in the past I "settled" for glasses that I really didn't like.  That whole fad of tiny glasses, for example, was ridiculous.  I still keep the best of the older pairs in the glove box of the truck, the car, and in the camper. If you are traveling and your glasses are lost or broken, you'll have an extra pair.  I learned that the hard way when my sunglasses went over the side of the boat, navigating the Okeechobee waterway (an excellent trip, I might add!).

So after hemming and hawing, we went online to eyebuydirect.   The site is very interactive and slow to load on a slow connection, but it works well if you are patient.  You can search by what is on sale, gender, size, color or whatnot. You can upload a photo and "see" what the glasses will look like on your head. I found two frames I liked and using a "BOHO" code (Buy one, get one half-off) bought two pairs of regular glasses with transition bifocals, for about $160.  One pair is blue metal, and the other a "blood orange" plastic.  Very fun and trendy.

Mark went online and got two pairs for about $130.  His were cheaper for some reason.   The frames are all well under $100 - usually on the order of $20 to $50 or so.  Lenses can be as little as $20 for distance, but over $100 for transition bifocals.  Polarized lenses are $70 extra for some reason (I declined, this time around).   So depending on your prescription, glasses can be under $50 or over $150 a pair, depending on how fancy you want to get.  Even at the upper end, they are still cheaper than the "discount" brick-and-mortar stores.

Well, that was a little over a week ago and today they arrived.  Right out of the box, they were comfortable, fit well, and we could see great.   We are both very, very happy with this purchase.  I went online and with the BOGO code they gave me, ordered two pairs of sunglasses (distance only) for $105.   This is an incredible savings over what they local stores charge.  The "designer eyewear" place wants close to $400 a pair!

Even if they don't last but a year, it is still a bargain.  Glasses get weird over time - skin oils, dirt, and suntan oil, bug spray and whatnot end up ruining the finish.  The nose pieces get gross.  Lenses get scratched or cloudy.  Your prescription changes.   There is little point in paying more for "quality" glasses for what is, essentially, a disposable commodity.

And at these prices, you can afford to throw them away every year!

UPDATE:  a reader writes that they've had good luck with the online eyeglasses retailer Our postal carrier also uses them. I'm sure there are probably a few more as well.  Another reader writes that their prices are even cheaper - only a few dollars for a frame.   Eyebuydirect does play the discount game, with BOHOs, and BOGOs, and coupon offers and loyalty programs - the sort of thing I hate.  Their frames can be as little as $15 a pair, and with a BOGO, on par with Zenni.  Lenses may be a different deal.  I have a bifocal prescription - transition - and that seems to add a lot to the cost at EyeBuy - standard lenses are as little as $20, but with my bifocal, $105.  But then again also, I have a large head - hence larger lenses and larger frames.

All that being said, the overall cost per pair at EyeBuy is about $50 to $70 including shipping.  Zenni may be less.  Both are far, far less than even Walmart, with a better selection, better sizing, and better service.

In the old days if you went to a brick-and-mortar eyeglass store, they would measure you for your eyeglasses and order the frames that you wanted in the size you wanted with the temples having the correct length to fit around your ears.

More recently, it seems like even some of the higher-end eyeglass stores have gone to a model where they stock frames and you have to pick from the frames they have in stock and they then mail off that physical frame to the eyeglass grinding place which makes the lenses. If they don't have the correct size, then too bad for you.

This isn't an example of online retailing killing brick-and-mortar, but rather brick-and-mortar committing suicide.

The lower prices of online buying are great. But when the selection, quality, and sizing are superior to brick-and-mortar stores, that kind of seals the deal. Even if the prices were the same as brick-and-mortar, I would still shop online from now on.

I guess that's the new model of brick-and-mortar business. Make your business as toxic as possible to your customers then wonder why they run away.