Here are 10 experts whose websites can help you identify the best deals and money-saving advice.
Glasses Websites Customer Service
One of the biggest challenges when buying eyeglasses online is inconsistent and unresponsive customer service. According to review comments, getting hold of a live person on the phone, or even in live chat, can take Herculean effort, as this former Optical 4 Less customer points out in a post on XP Bargains.
Return policies, another aspect of online eyeglasses customer service, vary by site. 39 Dollar Glasses provides an unconditional six-month replacement guarantee for all frames and a 30-day replacement guarantee for damaged lenses. Eye Buy Direct's guarantee is one of the best, given its offer of a full refund if, for any reason, you're dissatisfied with your frames (shipping not included). You must, however, contact this online eyeglasses customer service department within 14 days of receiving the cheap frames -- after that, you can get a 70 percent refund or replacement glasses for half the original order cost. Goggles 4 U replaces or refunds lost or damaged eyewear or specs with an incorrect prescription for full cost; customers dissatisfied with the quality can return them at their own expense for a refund equaling 100 percent of the frame cost and 50 percent of the lens cost. Zenni Optical offers a 30-day warranty and a 50 percent refund on glasses within the first four weeks; glasses must be returned at customer expense, and the refund is credited when received by the vendor. The Glasses Shop offers a full refund within five days of receipt if you're dissatisfied for any reason. You have up to 30 days to return damaged or poor-quality merchandise for a full refund, and quality-related returns occurring between 30 and 90 days are reimbursed at 100 percent of the frame cost and 50 percent of the lens cost. Coastal's return policy, like its shipping guarantee, is unclear when dealing with non-contact lens purchases. Optical 4 Less has a 30-day quality guarantee, but a recent history of online eyeglasses customer service giving buyers the runaround has caused many, including former partisan Glassy Eyes, to steer clear of this eyewear etailer.
Ease of Ordering.Whether you're a veteran or a novice Internet shopper, the ease of ordering affects your decision to complete the process. Our research found that most eyeglasses websites pass the user-friendly test and to some degree may offset qualms about online eyeglasses customer service.
According to Eyeglass Retailer Reviews, 39 Dollar Glasses provides one of the best sites in terms of simplicity and ease of use. Frame choices are broken down into intuitive categories and can be filtered by gender. You can view high-res photos of each style in available colors and lens tints. Measurements are provided and fully explained for each frame. Although you can't upload a photo and virtually try on frames, you can use the proprietary SmartFit guide to see what each option looks like on a variety of face shapes. You can also download an actual-sized picture of each frame to print, cut out, and try on.
Eye Buy Direct also maintains a simple-to-navigate website with helpful tools that let you compare frames side-by-side and narrow your search by criteria such as size, price, and material. An EyeTry feature lets you upload your photo to "try on" the styles you're considering, but it pops up only when you click on a frame for more info. This site, like 39 Dollar Glasses, has live-chat online eyeglasses customer service agents who are sometimes described as unsympathetic in user reviews. Experts also nitpick that the tools provided for measuring your PD aren't as elaborate as those of other sites.
Zenni Optical's online interface, though functional, is plain-Jane and sometimes drives people round the bend, according to the Glassy Eyes blog. On the other hand, Zenni Optical provides all necessary frame and lens measurements, which Glassy Eyes points out is a missing component on many other sites.
Goggles 4 U features search capabilities that are sometimes described as "robust" and offers many of the same tools you find on other sites, including live chat and virtual try-on. It's worth noting, however, that this latter tool offers no measurement scale, although you do get a 360-degree view of all available frames.
Optical 4 Less has most of the functionality, but none of the polish, of other sites in the online discount eyewear category. You should be able to find what you're looking for fairly easily, but information isn't always clearly written. The site includes a "Try Now" tool, which works well as long as the photo you upload is optimally sized. There's no live chat, but you can open a customer service ticket to request help with an order.
Online Eyeglasses Turnaround.Order turnaround time is an area in which all eyewear sites we researched seem to suffer. Generally speaking, U.S.-based companies without overseas production, such as 39 Dollar Glasses and Eye Buy Direct, boast the shortest lead times. International companies, such as Optical 4 Less, and companies with foreign production facilities, such as Zenni Optical and Goggles 4 U, take longer to fulfill orders and face the threat of customs delays. Even so, domestic companies aren't always a sure bet. Orders can still get lost in the mail, as a disgruntled 39 Dollar Glasses customer notes on Epinions, or hung up online, as an Eye Buy Direct customer relates on Bizrate.
Eyeglass websites usually give shipping times as two to four weeks. 39 Dollar Glasses states that most orders are processed and completed in three to five business days and slightly longer for complex prescriptions; shipping times depend on the method you choose. Eye Buy Direct, with fewer shipping complaints than most competitors, promises a turnaround of 14 business days from placement to delivery but says shipping may take longer during buy-one-get-one-free sales. Zenni Optical estimates that most U.S. orders will arrive within seven to 14 business days. Optical 4 Less tells customers to expect a wait of 11 to 20 business days, and Goggles 4 U states that eyewear spends 10 to 12 days in transit but doesn't specify how long order verification and production take. The Glasses Shop estimates transit time at seven to 14 business days for U.S. orders, but will expedite for an additional charge. Coastal specifies processing time of three to ten business days, depending on the prescription, with shipping time that depends on the option you choose.Back to top »
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