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Occasionally, a post in the forum rings home with something I've been thinking about recently. Today, I opened them up for the daily walk-through and Chuck's recent post struck me as something that needed to be discussed.

Well, it looks like it's time to reconsider the relative rankings of
the various e-tailers. I've had experience with only one, but of the
6 transactions I've had, they've all been perfect. That's Zenni.

The quality of their lenses has also been beyond reproach in every ophthalmologist actually checked the most recent pair of
glasses 3 times to confirm the results, as they were absolutely
perfect. I think this speaks volumes...lucking out on a single pair,
or even two, is possible...but 6 in a row?

Question: Of those who have used more than one e-tailer, how would
you rank them? Here's the list (in order of relative ranking) from
the main glassyeyes page. Judging only from my own experiences, I
would think Zenni should be a bit higher than it is.


Considering all the complaints about certain sites, lately...I figured
it would be worth revisiting this subject.

Here is my response (which tends to ramble -- please accept my apologies):

Appreciate the feedback Chuck. I removed the stars a month or so ago as Google Groups ate between three and nine months of tallied feedback results that I have no inclination to recreate. Additionally, those rankings had site navigation, lens options, support and other issues rolled into them. This open forum is a great place for people to discuss, and if they choose, rank the sites according to their experiences. I've been working on rewriting the reviews and moving them from the Google Groups pages, but it's taken a back seat to some "paying work" over the past month.

If you notice, the current list is in alphabetical order. 39$, EBD, G4U and O4L have all initiated contact with me and are almost always interested in "making things right" when things have gone wrong. The others haven't been interested in any sort of dialog. Zenni? They're the 900-lb gorilla in this market and in this instance specifically, they're a lesson in why you don't name your plumbing business "ZZZZAble Plumbing" and why the majority of company names in the phonebooks of yesteryear, seemed to start with A, AA, or AAA.

I'd bet the following numbers would thrill "ZZZZAble Plumbing" if they translated to calls like it's surely thrilled Zenni and their clicks. Since the end of last July, the links on the site have been tracked through a database I whipped up. I simply count clicks (all of you privacy advocates can get down off the ledge).

There have been over 200,000 clicks in the past nine months. Zenni is indeed the lowest, but only by a couple of thousand clicks -- but that could be related to the fact that I've had less to say about them. I haven't ordered a pair from them since the initial pair, and they don't relens (which has become more important to me as my prescription changes and I don't see anything that necessarily needs to join my collection). They have accounted for 14% of all clicks on the website on the strength of the "Big5" link alone. It ain't like people don't know who they are. They're a solid choice like the others.

All of the retailers seem to have cycles of good and bad (not entirely unrelated to staff turnover and issues such as that) and realistically -- at this point, none of them is standing out from the crowd (apart from a couple of higher-profile cases). I long for days of consistent excellence and accuracy, but thinking back to my days buying glasses in the mall stores, there are always going to be people with problems. How these problems are dealt with (by the retailers and, yes, the customers as well) is always going to be the key.

This "project" has been going on for over a year and half now and over time things have shaken out a bit. This isn't as convenient as the mall, but is it worth the price? For me it is. But understand that if there is a problem, it's going to take time, and shipping, and more time, to fix. If you go into the process understanding that, you're going to be better prepared if it happens and even happier when it doesn't. Very few people have been completely hung out to dry by any of the retailers over a problem -- and none (as far as I know) that I've been able to connect with the right people.

When I started this in November, 2006, I placed two orders. One from Zenni and one from Goggles4U. I hedged my bets. I was still spending about one-fourth of what it would have cost me at LensCrafters, so it was a safe bet. I figured one of the pairs would at least be wearable. They both were much more than wearable, which was great. If you really need glasses to replace your one broken pair. Do the same. Order from more than one place. You're increasing your odds dramatically -- and likely to have more than one pair to wear when it's all said and done.

I've had something like fifteen pairs made from all of the retailers listed on the site and only had one "throwaway" (which happened to be from a non-Big5 vendor). The rest each spend significant time on my face.

So, please continue to rate your experiences. Please continue to rank the vendors if you've had chance to try them. All of this data, as "messy" as it is, has helped thousands upon thousands of people make their decisions.


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At May 6, 2008 at 6:46 PM Anonymous said...

Zenni may be less popular because clicking doesn't yield a discount. Nevertheless, they're the ones I just ordered from.

At May 9, 2008 at 6:54 PM Brianala said...

I've ordered four pair from Zenni, and all have been perfect. One order took a little longer than expected, so I emailed them to ask about when I could expect it.

I received a reply the next morning, and my glasses were delivered within the week, as promised.

All around, I agree. Zenni has been excellent, although I have not ordered from any of the other retailers.


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