There are a number of great benefits to living within a five mile radius of the Mall of America; people watching, getting rid of the winter blues for even an hour on a Tuesday evening in February, and seeing how corporate retail is doing its best to eliminate or consume the competition. That last one and the fact that it is an iconic example for the needs of this post are the most important to me right now.
Case in point, this is a mall with over 500 stores. There are 18 jewelry stores, 33 stores that sell shoes, and 51 carts (spreading like a cancer) to fight past in the walkways.
There are also 7 stores that deal with eyeglasses. Of these seven, four deal specifically with prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. THREE OF THESE FOUR are owned by the Italian Luxottica Group S.p.A. -- I've never seen a customer in the fourth one.
Luxottica is the closest thing to a monopoly, I can come up with. Are you pissed off at LensCrafters? Just go to Pearle Vision right? Nope. Same company. Surely, Target or Sears will get you clear of the bad taste LenCrafters has left you with. No again.
Luxottica, founded by the extremely wealthy ($11.5B, Top 50 Richest Globally) Leonardo Del Vecchio has its hands in the eyeglasses market from nearly every angle; retail, wholesale, licensed and house brands (perhaps you read about them purchasing Oakley a few weeks back for over $2.5 BILLION)...
They even have a scam going in the optical insurance arena. If you have EyeMed Insurance, it's not in your best interest to use any of the Luxottica retailers/brands. More on that in a future article.
I knew they were omnipresent in this industry, but it never dawned on me that they were in so deep. How the Federal Trade Commission has allowed this to happen over and over again with Luxottica should have you shaking your head in the same way I'm shaking mine. I'm not a business writer, so if you're interested, this article will give you a better idea of the specifics of the deal.
There are only a few ways to avoid the Luxottica steamroller:
- shop the little guy and avoid these brands
(Arnette, Killer Loop, Luxottica, Persol, Ray-Ban, Revo, Sferoflex, Vogue, Adrienne Vittadini, Anne Klein, Brooks Brothers, Bvlgari, Byblos, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, Donna Karan, DKNY, Genny, Miu Miu, Moschino, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Tacchini, Versace, Versus)
- shop at Costco, Sams Club or Walmart (shudder) and avoid the same list of brands
- shop online, at one of the stores listed at the top of each of the pages on this site
I think the third option is the most cost-effective. I think you'll agree.
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- At August 7, 2007 at 9:36 AM Brian said...
you neglect the obvious alternative to corporate optical shops -- become a patient at your independently owned private practice optometrist. Much more goes into eye care and the fitting of spectacles than just metal and plastic. If you are looking for the best VALUE for the COST of glasses then the best choice is the private practice doctor of optometry (full disclosure, I am an OD in private practice)
- At August 7, 2007 at 11:18 AM misty said...
Luxottica works hard to cut off Internet companies that discount their brands. The Supreme Court recently said this was OK and is not price fixing.
If you think Luxottica is alone at this you would be wrong. Oakley was worse. Other eyeglass manufacturers behave in the same way such as Safilo and Nike. The watch industry is the same... Rolex is militant.
I could go on if there was a way to email you directly I would share more.
- At August 8, 2007 at 5:23 PM Anonymous said...
I ran into the EyeMEd insurance scam a few years ago and have never signed up for it again. We paid about $300 and then had to go to Pearle or Vision World and the price for a pair of glasses was $450 and our copay was still over $200. I have gotten glasses at Costco the past couple of times. I loved your blog and the article in the Strib. How hard is it to order glasses with progressive no line bifocals online? The Strib article said to stay away from that type of on line order. Thanks!
- At August 29, 2007 at 12:54 PM Anonymous said...
Ya when it comes to eyewear its a monopoly period!
For the lowest price i have always gone to my local Costco.
They have low cost eye tests and they have low cost eyewear.
Its so strange how profitable this business seems to be but at the same time no new companies are entering the market. I find that very weird.
I hope one day for some Chinese or Pakistani guy/gal to start an eyewear rival and destroy these guys on price and quality!
- At August 29, 2007 at 2:55 PM Anonymous said...
I am an OD that works at Costco ... as a private practice is an excellent alternative to the Luxottica monopoly, insurance reimbursement schedules force many private practices to have higher fees that out price many people who do not have eye insurance. This makes it a catch 22 for any OD trying to open a private practice and compete with the big chains (Costco, Sams, Walmart) who are primarily cash and the Luxottica monopoly that accepts eye insurances. Both of which can keep their overhead much lower.
- At September 3, 2007 at 6:25 AM Anonymous said...
From ABOC Optician
#1-- do not buy progressive lenses online.....especially if they are you first pair. They have to be measured and fitted properly. ALso, you have to be trained how to use them or they are useless!!!!
#2-- Keep in mind a large factor in pricing involves over head. Lenscrafters has to charge higher fees as they have instore labs, that make the majority of their eyewear in 30-45 minutes.
#3-- Yes, lenese are "made by computer", but you need to have technicians capable of blocking the lenses properly, using the equipment properly, maintaining the equipment themselves, and ensuring quality completed eyewear, made to specs. There is much training needed, and a lot of optical knowledge needed to make glasses, whether it is a wholesale, retail, or online company.
- At November 6, 2007 at 2:49 PM Anonymous said...
I am a Luxottica Employee. I have been with this company for sometime now. We do a lot to pride our selves on producing quality product and service. We are not in the business of driving out independents either. We actually love mom and pop chains they are vital to the American economy. Just look at the way gas has been controlled and monopolized. Why should we be paying an average of 3 dollars per gallon when oil companies have reported record earnings? Furthermore we have donated more than 8 million pairs of perscription glasses throughout the U.S. and the world. People have got to understand we are her to provide a service and if our service is not what you want there are other options out there. With that being said we do a lot to ensure each and every one of our customers is satisfied. Thank you.
- At December 3, 2007 at 3:57 AM cnger said...
Just ran through your whole site. Great work! This particular post is the one I'll be sending friends and family to for the essence of buying cheap eyeglasses (i.e., go online through your links, Costco, Sams or Wal-Mart).
I have insurance that I won't name here (since they have way more resources than me) and I just bought some progressive lenses and frames through that insurance at a participating provider. I'm certain I could get them cheaper than the $300 (my cost, from the $750 total) online, but I know progressives can be touchy, so I'll do my other glasses (sunglasses, reading, computer) online or Costco. I've previously experienced the hostility of optometrists when bringing in a frame purchased online, in order to get my insurance-covered lenses put in the frame. And then asking for a copy of my scrip and interpupillary distance! Hoo boy!
I've come to the conclusion that, at least for my case and my insurance, the participating providers are so overpriced that it's cheaper for me to go completely on my own than to use their participating providers WITH the insurance coverage and pay the uncovered difference.
Here's another goodie that shows where they're coming from. I looked up my benefits online -- no problem for in-network benefits. But when I click on out-of-network benefits, there's no way to find them, just a brief paragraph telling you that it's best to use a participating provider and telling you to call customer service if you must know the out-of-network benefits (in other words, what paltry cash will they give me towards my online or Costco glasses).
So I call and I'm asked why I'm considering going outside the network.
I say I'm sure you're required to ask that question, but let's get to that later, just give me the numbers.
Well what are you getting, frames? (they're still trying to limit the info given)
Just give me everything, I say, frames, lenses, exam -- leave out the contacts and lasik because I'm not interested in those.
So she tells me -- it's like $50 they give you towards frames, and so on. Then we start talking about the why -- I'm honest but tactful, and we have a respectful discussion, with all the counterpoints from her script that you've heard before and blogged so well about.
So here's the kicker. I ask her to email me the out-of-network benefits info. They have my email address from the registration. It's my work email, since the insurance is through work.
Can't do that, she says.
No, the system doesn't allow me to email that info.
OK, I say, fax it to me, here's the number.
Can't do that either.
So again, tactfully, I say: "With all due respect, understand what I'm hearing from the point of view of the consumer. I have benefits that have been paid for by my employer, but you refuse to give them to me in writing."
She chewed on that for awhile, hemmed and hawed, than said that she could type it manually into an email and send it to me, which she did.
Of course, I'm supposed to feel like she's doing me a personal favor and putting her job on the line, as opposed to falling back to the last fallback position in the script she's been given.
Keep up the good work!
- At February 11, 2008 at 12:42 AM Anonymous said...
What are you going to say if you are a Lux employee? That Lux stinks?
Let me ask you if you witnessed the cannibalization of Cole after they (Lux) bought it. How many lives did they destroy? I just asked you a question. How many? Hmm? Well? Prices then fall? (NO. Airhead.)
They could have been HUMANE, but it was all in the name of money, and the Milan push-cart snob killed people as sure as he is neauveau-rich. Swine.Oh, also..... Low-life (see? I CAPitalIZED it).
Were you NUMB to it all, or are you just a spineless, whimpy piece of flotsam? Huh? Who bought your heros?
Maybe you are plain stupid.
You must work for Lenscrappers. Not Pearle, not Sears, not Target or BJs. Lenscrappers. They bought BJs up to Pearle. Outright. With Lenscrappers money. Service my derriere.
You're a stuffed shirt.
No horses head on YOUR bed, you poor little scared.........Boycott the sons-of-itchy bastards.
-From a Lux 'ee (up yours).
Oops--hey ABOC, learning to buy progressives is soooooo EASY to do, a MONKEY could LEARN it.(WOW-you think it's a BIG DEAL????!?!?!?!??!) It's like passing your silly little ABOC 100 question test (hey, everyone, you only need a passing grade of 70 for this......!!!!!!!!!)Why don't you tell people how to BUY ONLINE so they can LEARN something? (Like tell them the TWO things, PD or Pupillary Distance from ONE pupil's center to the OTHER--see? and the distance from the BOTTOM-MOST point of the lense to the PUPIL, for PROGRESSIVES. Those two measurements give the lab the position of the pupils in the lens, and are measured in MILLIMETERS. Like I said....wicked, wicked, wicked, oh, so mind-blowing HARD to do WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Scared they'll take your little, tiny-brained job from you? Moron. I hope you LOSE your job. Grow up.
- At May 10, 2008 at 3:22 AM Anonymous said...
This is what I could find out, mostly from Luxottica's own website
Brands (owned or distributed by Lux):
Dolce & Gabbana
Ralph Lauren Purple Label
Avant-Garde Optics (mfr.?)
Sunglass Hut, Lenscrafters, D.O.C. Optics
Shoppers Optical, Precision Optical (Canada)
OPSM, Laubman & Pank, Budget Eyewear (Asia-Pacific)
Modern Sight, Xueliang, Ming Long (China/Hong Kong)
Cole National (Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical, BJ's Optical)
EyeMed Vision Care (managed vision care)
- At August 5, 2008 at 9:20 AM Chery Bond said...
Hi. I would also like to comment on Pearle Vision. I have slight problems with eyesight and decided to apply for help until it is too late. I went to Pearle Vision, a chain of eyeglasses stores, to buy eyeglasses for protection against computer. It is a great company. It is not only about the USA, the Pearle chain has about thousand of stores in Europe in such countries as the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, Belgium and other. I learned about it from this great site www.pissedconsumer.com.
- At August 15, 2008 at 11:29 AM Anonymous said...
the rumor mill and and ignorance has perpetuated the "evil empire" luxottica to be more powerful than it really is.......the fact is Luxottica make the best product in the industry....and holds the licenses to the best brands in the world.
Get your facts straight before you jump on the anti-lux bandwagon.
Many have been converted to reality when they actually open up their minds and lose their small town midwestern farmer mentality!!
- At August 15, 2008 at 4:16 PM Ira said...
@anonymous (surprise surprise),
It's overpriced. It's monopolistic. Did you just say "open up your mind"?
No idea where you're from, anonymous troll, but the schools in Minnesota rank #1 or #2 in the country each year. We're thinking about things out here in one of the most liberal, free-thinking places in the country.
Keep on supporting your giant soul-crushing, innovation-killing business.
Thanks for your comment.
- At August 15, 2008 at 4:59 PM Ira said...
P.S. I built and drive the anti-lux bandwagon.
- At September 9, 2008 at 4:07 PM stargatewidow said...
I am a Certified Optician and yes I have taken that silly little ABO certification test and actually failed by one point (69) the first time.
Yet let me tell you, I now work for a company that sells glasses online and I must tell you what a pleasure it is to sell specs to patients at a fraction of the price. And yes, some prescriptions and progressive lenses need more adjustments and accurate measurements. But if you use good materials to begin with you do not run into those problems as much.
I know those Optometrist' are not making their fortunes from the eye exams and what the insurance pays them. I've worked for them for many years as an Optician and Office Manager. And we are using the same lenses and actually the same local lab to make our glasses. Somebody wrote somewhere that online stores use cheaper lenses, no we don't! They are the exact same as any optical shop would use, maybe even better!
As far as the progressive wearers, I can explain to them over the phone just as easy as sitting across from them how to use their progressives and how to look through the lens!
Oh yes, and BTW Luxottica has their finger in EVERYTHING!! Don't be fooled!
- At November 22, 2008 at 11:39 AM Anonymous said...
This is pretty good stuff. Along with the other stuff I found on google using EYEMED SCAM as search words. My company has been 'selling' the EyeMed program as part of the benifits package. My wife went to get glasses using the network and the out-of-pocket cost was going to be around 750.00 (she is real blind and needs top of the line stuff). I was looking at my benifits package today as we have to enroll for 2009 by this weekend and the Vision Care cost me 190.00 last year which we didn't use. My employer does not pay one cent on this VALUE DEAL It is looking more and more like a feel good - look what your can get - SCAM. We will be dropping the Vision Care for nest year and use the 190.00 in savings toward a market driven price - instead of a discount off FULL RETAIL. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME ANYONE BOUGHT A CAR AT FULL BOAT STICKER PRICE?
- At December 12, 2008 at 12:04 AM riverite said...
Grr I was one mad babe after being gouged in the eyeballs to the tune of $1.150 for a pair of glasses and eye exam from the Iris Group in Canada, talk about greedy corporate bastards. I was tres pissed when I found this sight and have been refused my PD# as well! I am entitled to it by law under the personal information act, they have to give it to me, I plan to make a stink if they refuse when I return. I also want to make some tee-shirts that say 39dollarglasses.com and then hand with my friends in front of their store (in the crap mall) wearing these shirts. Grrr, greed is what has effed the whole bloody world. The people who work for these companies are brainwashed at seminars and become corporate psychopaths just like the owners! Grrr, this girl has to go and calm down!sign me, eyes gouged out
- At February 17, 2009 at 2:19 PM Anonymous said...
I've been a Lenscrafters employee for many years, only because the working hours are flexible. I've watched the company absorb brand after brand and seen the pain it has caused so many families. Luxottica requires us to follow a strict set of guidelines with every person that walks through the door in order to bilk them out of everything they have. If we do not, we are written up and/or fired. We are required to meet certain "goals" sales-wise. If we do not, our hours get cut, we get the crappiest shifts, or we just plain don't get scheduled to work. And yes, licensed opticians (like me) are required to clean bathrooms and take out trash. The Eyemed scam is forced on every Lenscrafters employee, with the promise that family members can have exams at a small co-payment, but when you go to use it, you discover that your loved one has disappeared from the system, and you are required to pay FULL PRICE for the exam. We all live under the threat of termination if we do not perform to their unreasonable standards. It turns my stomach to have to charge people what we do. Long live online optical shops and the private OD!!
- At February 20, 2009 at 4:12 PM Anonymous said...
""I found this sight and have been refused my PD# as well! I am entitled to it by law under the personal information act, they have to give it to me""
I just have to laugh - I am sure that these huge places that so called "REFUSE" to release info - that is "YOURS " has a HUGE legal MACHINE at the corp. and that they are not doing anything illegal since lawsuits are the past thing they want-
Why don;t you also sue your Doctor - saying he should release this to you - since it is determined many times through out the exam -
from the use of the auto refractor - to the phoropter itself - yet you hear nothing about getting the info from them - DO WE ? NO - WHY i ask
Many states Require this as part of the RX - so if your state does not - YOU should also be upset and ready to go after them - to either change the law - or make one -
For me - Although i do not work for any large retailer now - I have seen THE NEGATIVE outcomes from releasing it
At 1 point - we where releasing this info - ( from prev orders ) - and it only turned into a nightmare
here are some issues that happened-
1- IN a pr of progressives - the pt took the info from their old pr - and ordered a pr online - Yet since they only had a keyboard to talk to - and look at there old glasses -
they ordered another brand of PAL's even though we did HER A FAVOR - and told her that she should continue with her Varilux 360 product - yet her deal was the $ - so she picked a lens - that she "could not see out of "
2- she used a PD that was 3 yrs old - and although it usually does not change much - IT IS FACT that as we age the OD gets Wider - YEt I guess this was our fault also -
3- She got them - and expected us to trouble shoot the issues FOR her - and like dummies we did -
4 - WITH A SV wearer - they took their pd on file - yet did not take a OC ht - BUT once again it was our fault -
NOW - I have no issues with folks getting things online - or wherever - BUT these folks are the ones that come in - 10 mins before we used to close - Begging US for adjustments - a broken nose pad - a broken rimless string - or lost screw - and they think we should drop everything - and leave loyal customers to help them -
kinda ball sy i think -
In these cases - WE for some odd reason fixed these issues for them- and i guess being so large they can offer those CRAZY policies - such as 30 days - Hell once you walk out of our shop - THEY are yours - we are not going to redo them - since your wife - or friends do not like them - THAT IS WHY WE ALL HAVE MIRRORS in the stores - yet LC still does this nutty stuff -
also - if you come in with a scratch - TO BAD - buy a new one - and not at half price - YOU did it - you should pay -
I will say these big retailers shot themselves in the foot - and this is why we are dealing with these nutty pts that think glasses are not a medical device - but is a oc of clothing - and this under minds any value - quality - or cost -
Lenses are NOT cheap - and even wholesale - can cost well over 225 bucks - for a high index pal - with ar-- When we order the ipseo - or any 1.7 Plus high index progressive - or when LC orders a
Varilux 360 with alize ( which is available there - and they let you change it at no cost - they must cover the cost for those crazy pts that want to change their glasses 3-4 times in 30 days becuase they where NOT sure -- this cost must be covered somewhere and unfort. I hear it is now effecting the associates benefits that they need to support their families on -- YES they making huge changes in associates benefits to cover these crazy policies they offer to you
I just love the bashing that goes on here - it is so sad - YOU look down at those that work there for some reason - trying to support their family's - you make them responsible for the folks over seas buying up everything - LIKE the folks IN THE STORES HAVE ANY SAY OR CONTROL WHAT Decisions are made in any of these issues -
I used to work with allot of smart talented folks there - that take pride in there jobs and what they have direct control over - GIVE SOME credit where it is do - since i have seen junk come out of the highest end Boutiques out there !!
Esp these online glasses being made in someone's basement - that does not have to provide any customer service or trouble shooting what so ever - no wonder why they can give them away -
How can they do a pr of 40 dollar glasses that cost WHOLESALE - for 300 bucks - ? Only one way - some products must be really cheap to off set these other decent products. There is no other way around it - no overhead - and some decent products - but also some really cheap ones to - no way around it
Best of luck to all - and sorry for ranting and raving - just gets under my skin a bit - and i dont even work there any longer -
- At March 24, 2009 at 8:26 PM Anonymous said...
I did not see mention of this included in the retailers owned by Lux. As a result of the Oakley buyout they also own and run (through sunglass hut) all of the Sunglass Icon stores which include: Sunglass Icon, Sunglass Designs, Sporting Eyes, Occhiali da Sole, and Sunglass Club(outlets) which at the time of the buyout numbered about 150 stores nationwide. Sadly most of these stores, which brought many non Lux brands to the marketplace (spy, von zipper, costa del mar, gucci, mosley tribes, and many others) have either been closed or been reduced to the standard, or quite substandard as I consider it, Sunglass Hut assortment.
- At September 8, 2009 at 2:38 PM Anonymous said...
I use to work for Luxottica. My child manager "sexted" his co-worker at our first meeting of new employees using foul language and obscene suggestions. The girl told the two female regional managers who said, "what can we do, we just gave him the manager's position?" Now I do research into this "reputable" company that prides itself on "integrity" and find out that sexual harrassment has a zero tolerance. I myself committed one indiscretion but I'm fired.........oh, yes, because I'm 50+ years old. I also researched former emplyee comments about this issue and found that managers are encouraged to use every opportunity to get rid of us. Who do you think buys these over-priced plastic sunglasses, young kids????? Nope, only if their mommies and daddies are with them paying for them. The head of Sun Glass Hut is an old, wrinkled jerk himself. Oh yeah, and who wants to stand on your feet 5, 6 and 7 hours at a stretch for $7.50 an hour and NO commission unless your store makes its weekly goal? The older customers would complain about the young kids who are rude in our Sun Glass Hut stores. I firmly believe the store sales numbers they'd call in to us each day were phony. Most people would look at our prices and ask for directions to where they can buy two pairs for $10.00. Our regional managers said these glasses were junk but I checked them out and my $200.00 Burberrys were no better.
- At December 14, 2009 at 2:50 AM Anonymous said...
We now own Oakley as well =D we are growing and we are soon going to force every person in the world to own a pair of our glasses...to bad we lost our watches...the small price to pay for global domination....
- At February 24, 2010 at 3:16 PM LarryW said...
Well now, it appears that some Luxottica folks have gotten their feathers a little ruffled. I am going to stick to the facts as I know them in what happened to me in dealing with Lux. On the 1st of Feb. I dropped a lens out of a 130.00 pair of Ray-Bans that I loved. I stopped by Sunglasses Hut where I bought them and found that I needed to deal with Luxottica. Called their 800 number and was told I could either send them in for repair (6-8 wks) or order lenses (2-3 wks), I opted for the latter. Called back 3 weeks later to check on my order and was told that the lenses were on back order from Italy and would take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to get them. Noticed all the horror stories that looked like my story so I called to cancel my order. At first they said I couldn't cancel it. As I kept talking and mentioned I thought I was buying American when I bought Ray-Ban only to find out this mess of a company called Luxottica and also mentioned I didn't understand policies like the one we were talking about she agreed to refund my money. We shall see in a few days if they indeed did refund the money. After reading the stuff online about this company Luxottica I will NEVER buy another pair of Ray-Ban or any other brand they own. Now I know why Target glasses are way way overpriced. Total B.S. and by the way, the customer service is horrible at Luxottica, attitudes are rotten in my opinion but hey, I guess they have to deal with dissatisfied customers all day.
- At May 3, 2010 at 11:02 PM Anonymous said...
Does any other place give you THREE MONTHS to return something? even damaged? Or if your doctor made you perscription glasses and you decided you didn't like them would he refund your money? How about letting you trade in your old glasses for 50% off so that we can recycle and reuse the old ones so we can distribute glasses to those that need them in other countries. Or how about when you get a defective pair and the mom and pop stores tell you that you have to mail them out and wait 2-4 weeks to get them back. Postage... well we will give you a brand new pair in any of our thousands of stores. no waiting and no shipping. These are just a few things that we do at Luxottica stores. And to the upset employee... they don't tell us how we should sell. As a manager it is my job to find quality people that don't need to be fed lines to sell. You should consider another line of work. Lastly, take Revo which just joined Luxottica... we took the brand image and used our newest technologies to make them the highest polarized optic lens in the world. Or how we designed an entire line of Raybans made of Carbon Fibre. Or our national ad campaign to educate high fashion customers to also embrace function by buying polarized. We will adjust or fix to our best knowledge any brand that we carry for free even if you get it from a mom and pop store. So yes big companies exist... like any business profit is needed but we give back in big ways! Stop into one of our stores and then come tell me that you weren't greeted and treated like family.
- At May 3, 2010 at 11:22 PM Ira said...
blah blah blah... you charge too much. You've been ripping people off for years.
- At July 22, 2010 at 4:51 PM Anonymous said...
I just decided to embrace the anti-luxottica bandwagon myself after two years of being battered into a used car salesman instead of being able to do what I love doing--being an optician.
- At April 3, 2011 at 11:32 PM mow965 said...
i own a few optical retial stores and luxottica is monopolizing the usa optical industry i can only buy prada versace tiffany d&g ralph rayben and many more only from luxotica since they are the distribuion so why they selling it cheaper in thier stores some times they sell it as they same price to me as a whole sell then to their retial stores lets have a big action law suit agins them befor we all go out of bussines
- At April 3, 2011 at 11:40 PM mow965 said...
luxottica group is monnopolzing the optical industry i own a few otical stores we need to have a class action sue again's them before its to late and have to close my stores to them