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I'm a self-employed guy with a house, three kids and big medical insurance deductible. I wasn't about to pay a couple of hundred dollars to get my eyes checked with taxes due. That said, I need to make sure my eyes are in tip-top shape. I was at Sam's Club a couple of weeks ago for a gallon of jalapenos and ten pounds of frozen blueberries when I walked past the optical center.

$50? I could afford that -- every two years.

I scheduled an appointment and late last week went in and got it done at the store in Eagan, Minnesota. I was greeted by "Sam" (I swear to God) who started me off in the "room o' technical goodies". Seated on a stool I rotated to three different machines as he lined things up and pressed buttons that blew puffs of air into my eyes.

So far, apart from the sound of shoppers pre-spending their 2008 Flat-Panel Tax Rebates, things weren't too far of a departure from my more traditional trips to the optometrist's office. He took my glasses to test them, "Oh, Silhouettes!" I assured him they weren't. I began to tell him my tale, and as he finished his tests, told me I'd gotten a heck of a "good deal on them".

A few minutes later, the lovely and talented Dr. Heather Tuttle entered the scene and completed the requisite tests in a surprisingly calming room tucked away amid the intense and unwavering consumerism all around us. She provided me with my prescription (only a tiny change) and directed me back to Sam for my PD measurement. She too, was at least casually interested in the idea of online eyeglasses -- and the fact that I was interested in keeping my prescription current.

My existing glasses would be fine for at least the next couple of years. Before ringing me up, Sam said, "So I guess I won't try to sell you any glasses today." I laughed, paid my bill, thanked him, and grabbed another gallon of jalapenos on the way out.



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7 comments:

At April 7, 2008 at 8:42 PM Anonymous said...

I heard a radio ad today for an optometrist in town who offers two pairs of glasses, two sets of contacts, or one of each--plus the exam--for $99. I have to say, I'm very curious, since my "39-dollar glasses" cost more than $50, due to my massive prescription and the thin lenses (the $99 guy might charge more for those things too).

Before I moved here I went to a behavioral optometrist who charged $75 for my exam and didn't care where I got the prescription filled. He was a fantastic optometrist, and I didn't think his fee was excessive, but it's interesting to see some low-cost alternatives.

 
At April 7, 2008 at 8:56 PM Anonymous said...

She provided me with my prescription (only a tiny change)...

So, what do you consider a tiny change?

No negative comments about shopping for your spectacles online?

 
At April 7, 2008 at 9:40 PM Ira said...

@anon,

My OS Sphere changed from -3.50 to -3.75 and my OS Axis from 177 to 175.

Even she acknowledged, there was no need for new glasses. She had no negative comments about shopping online -- or pro for that matter.

She was very objective.

 
At April 8, 2008 at 10:58 AM Northeast Iowa Mom said...

"the sound of shoppers pre-spending their 2008 Flat-Panel Tax Rebates"

Snork! Once again, Ira, you are a very funny man. :)

 
At April 11, 2008 at 2:55 PM Anonymous said...

I had an eye exam yesterday at my local WalMart. Both the Dr., & the tech. in the "room o' technical goodies", helped me with the measurements that I'd need, & encouraged me to give the on-line thing a try. In fact, they both told me that a former employee in their store needed glasses, but was in a REAL financial bind, & couldn't afford to purchase them through the store, so she ordered some on-line. They were both impressed with what she got, & said the prescription was "right on". But I'm still a little nervous about buying on-line. Which of the "Big 5 Retailers" from your site is the best? What frames are you wearing on your home page? I like those frames.

 
At April 11, 2008 at 3:28 PM Ira said...

@anonymous,

The frames I'm wearing at the top of the page, were the first pair I ordered in October of 2006. They're Max Mara frames (model MM005, I believe -- they're around here somewhere).

I got them at goggles4u and like many of their frames I got the only (or last) pair. I love them and if I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this very question...

Sorry. I wish I knew where a person could find some of these.

 
At April 12, 2008 at 12:40 AM Jason Whiting said...

Ira,

My girlfriend and I are writer/actors up here in snowy Canada. We just got our eyes tested this afternoon. I need glasses, she doesn't.

I was looking around in the store and the 'cheap' frames started at $80 or $90. And that was before lenses (extra for UV and glare proofing) and taxes.

Instead, I walked over to another outlet, found a pair that I liked ($260 for the frames), copied down the measurements and went home and ordered a very similar looking pair from Optical 4 Less.

My brand new glasses are going to cost (including shipping) about $34Cdn.

Thanks for providing such a great service. I hope the rest of the experience goes as smoothly as the first bit. Strange to say, but I'm really looking forward to finally be wearing glasses again. I'll be able to see and won't feel ripped off.

Jason Whiting

 

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