Coastal Review

Photo credit: Courtesy of Cheapism

An unusually long period for no-questions-asked returns and generally positive reviews for quality and customer service earn Coastal a place among our top picks.

Coastal, a runner-up in Cheapism's search for the best online eyeglasses retailer, is a hit with TopTenReviews, where it lands in the No. 2 slot among 11 in a comparative review. The independent review site praises the selection of name-brand frames but points out that the assortment is limited compared with the pricier competition.

Another big plus for Coastal, according to this review, is the extremely generous 365-day no-questions-asked return window, which is far and away the most customer-friendly policy. The minimum shipping time of five days bests the category average of 6.82 days, according TopTenReviews' calculations, as does the seven-day maximum shipping time versus the average 10.45 days of the 11 sites being compared. (The Coastal website gives shipping times of five to seven business days on top of two to seven days for production.) A 95 percent satisfaction rating also beats the category average of 90.91 percent.

Where to buy

Customers, however, take a more qualified stance. At Yelp, several dozen reviewers award the company 3.5 stars out of 5 and more than 1,100 reviewers assign an average of 3 stars out of 5 at ResellerRatings. Some profess to being serial buyers, asserting that the quality of Coastal frames and prescription lenses outdoes other online glasses sites, and others tell of being pleasantly surprised by the quality despite initial skepticism. These Coastal reviews say the correction is accurate, frames fit well, customer service is professional, and the price is right, especially when using promo codes and Groupon deals.

Other reviewers object to the quality of the product and the service -- the lenses make one wearer dizzy, for example; the frames bought by another are lopsided and loose; the anti-reflective coating on another pair doesn't do the job; and shipping takes longer than the site says, according to several customers. One reviewer claims to have purchased two pairs of glasses from Zenni Optical at half the price of a single pair at Coastal.

Frame and Lens Options. Coastal carries designer frames bearing high-end labels such as Oakley, Prada, and Ray-Ban, with prices starting in the low triple digits. Exclusive in-house lines start at $35. The entry-level package includes the frame and single-vision 1.59-index polycarbonate lenses with anti-scratch and UV coatings. Frames with thinner and lighter 1.67-index lenses cost an extra $85 for the same two coatings plus an anti-reflective coating. Progressive lenses for a strong prescription with a 1.61 index and anti-scratch, anti-reflective, and UV coatings add $169 to the cost of a frame; moving up to a 1.67 index adds $249. Basic bifocal lenses are an additional $159. Coastal also sells lenses that block the blue light emitted by digital screens and cost at least $69 more than the entry-level package. The prescription eyewear site also sells sunglasses, light-adjusting Transitions lenses, fashion glasses (no lens correction), and contact lenses.

Website. The website is relatively straightforward but harder to navigate and less informative than Zenni Optical or 39 Dollar Glasses. (At the time of writing, the site had just been redesigned and several features, including "virtual try-on," were not yet available.) Users can search by gender, kids, or brand (many are sold out), and filters include style, use, material, and color. Frame measurements don't automatically appear with the picture of a frame, and it takes a while to get lens prices and options. The FAQ section is very limited. Contact is available by email or phone. Joining the email list nets a 25 percent discount on glasses and 10 percent off contacts. Shipping is free on all orders.

Bottom Line. Coastal is a full-service provider and pricier than Cheapism's top picks, but it remains a money-saving option for eyeglasses wearers who want brand-name frames. It also offers customers credit for donating old glasses.

Maralyn Edid

Maralyn is a veteran reporter, writer, researcher, and editor. From her early years at Crain's Chicago Business and the Detroit bureau of Business Week, then on to a long-term stint at Cornell University's ILR School and now at, Maralyn has been -- and remains -- committed to getting ...

See full bio