So, being stuck in a hotel for a week with the kids has had it's ups and downs. It's tough to live out of a single room with all of their stuff. It's also nice to have a swimming pool at your disposal.
I never used to like the pool much. I like being able to see and getting in the water meant leaving the glasses behind -- and along with it, my sight. Never having more than a single pair of glasses, I couldn't risk losing or breaking them in the water.
I've spent hours upon hours in the pool this week with a big responsibility -- being able to keep an eye on the wee ones. Planning ahead a bit, I grabbed a pair of glasses that work perfectly for such a task. The prescription is perfect, they're sturdy as hell, and they look horrible on me. I never wear the things.
Not only do they work perfectly in the pool to see with, they've also come in handy as an accidental pool toy. They came off a few times in the deep end and my oldest son was more than happy to retrieve them for me, showing off his new found swimming confidence. "Throw them in again, dad," echoed through the pool area on more than one occasion.
Ever done either of these things with a $400 pair of glasses? I certainly hadn't.
Summer is coming. Do yourself a favor, pick up a pair of glasses for the pool (in the water or in a lounge chair) -- prescription sunglasses anyone?
I got a call from what appears to be Pakistan this afternoon. I'm honestly not sure how they got my phone number, but I'm glad they did. I've been attending to family business in Fargo for nearly a week and have been trying to get things worked out over the now nearly ubiquitous WiFi connections in the hotel, hospital and coffee shops.
Goggles4U has been a solid choice, and one of the first places I've tried since I was thrust into all of this. I've been concerned over the past few weeks at what seemed to be a dramatic drop of the ball when it came to dealing with customer problems.
One thing I've seen from G4U is that they always seem to either solve the problem or refund the customer's money when there is a problem, and that hadn't necessarily changed. It was just taking much, much longer to get a response (if one could be gotten at all).
I had a couple of people ask for my assistance and I was finally able to punch an email through to them. The customers seem now to have been contacted and hopefully this "clog" has been cleared for good. The person I spoke with talked of spam filters acting up and replacing the system they were using (it was supposedly even blocking some of the email from their own "contact us" form).
Regardless, things appear to be getting back to normal.
They assure me that all attempts at contact using the form on their site will be answered within a day or two. Please let me know if that is not the case in the coming weeks.
Competition is a good thing for consumers -- and for businesses (whether they know it or not). With more companies coming into the space from the low and high ends, it compels the established online eyeglass retailers to invest and improve in the areas of:
- creative, simplified order process
- quality control
- customer notifications
- knowledgeable/qualified customer service (thanks rbean)
- customer service contact options
- customer service response times
There are going to be issues with products ordered online -- especially those with so many variables. This is true of all industries, not isolated to this one. My dad told me when I was in high school, "Never buy a car that was built on a Friday, the people building them are tired and looking forward to the weekend." Like the cars of yesteryear (robots anyone), eyeglasses are unique and are built by people (whether in a mall in Omaha or a factory outside of Hong Kong). People make mistakes no matter how many safeguards are put in place (note to retailers: put more safeguards in place) -- and some aren't caught until they reach your hands.
Additionally, I think it's important to point out that even though these problems present themselves from time to time (and it really is rare in the grand scheme of things), the retailers that I've called on on behalf of a number of you, almost always fix the problem.
Ideally, they're ALL going to be right the first time, but what happens when they're not is just as important. I'm at a 13 for 14 (or is it 14 for 15?) success rate at this point with my moderate single vision prescription and astigmatism and couldn't be happier.
If my next pair is bad? I'll be bummed, but I'll make a phone call and toss on another pair.
If you're about to place your first order, split it up between a couple of the retailers. If you make a mistake (note to customers: double and triple check your entries, make sure you're ordering adult frames -- if you're an adult, and read up or call if you have questions), you'd need to do it more than once in order to be totally screwed. If you don't make a mistake, you'd have to have some seriously bad karma going to have bad things happen in more than one shop.
Also, if the mistake is yours, own up to it. You'd be amazed at what some of the retailers can do to soften the blow -- not that delivering eyeglasses at 1/5 to 1/10 the price isn't enough.
One last thing. I think we're all a bit too hard on the online retailers in general. We need to manage our expectations as much as anything. When you're paying $20 for a pair of glasses, DON'T expect them to arrive this week. DO expect that the prescription is going to match what you entered.
This is a new industry that has saved many thousands of us millions of dollars. They're learning all of this along with us. Fifteen or twenty years in the optical industry doesn't mean you can instantly translate that to the internets. It's a process. All in all, they're doing a pretty good job.
Good luck out there.
[Ed. (side) Note: If you're looking for something good to watch through those new specs, I can't speak highly enough about starting from Season 1 of "The Wire" and working your way through. Fantastic writing.]
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I write this with the snow falling -- really doing a number on my Spring fever. I'm aching to be able to open up the house and let some fresh air in.
Anyway, I've been really busy on a few things. The first of which is another side project aimed at a separate eyeglasses topic that I touched on a few weeks ago. It's been fun to work on late at night, but there is much work left to do.
I've also been talking on the phone and typing back and forth with a number of people in the about service levels, quality assurance, and customer service in the online eyeglasses industry. The people I've spoken with, on both sides of the transaction have had a lot to say about their experiences. I really feel like there are improvements being made across the board from A to Z(enni).
And then, while looking for a pair of glasses to wear, I came upon the scratched, neglected pair at about the exact time I needed a post topic. The stars aligned with my wallet contents and I started the process.
I chose 39 Dollar Glasses for this pair, as they offer expedited shipping and I had a fighting chance for a 1-week turnaround. They also offered the lenses I wanted for far less than the mall store who said they wouldn't do these as they were semi-rimless. Not much to argue as I wasn't going to use them anyway, I started the online order process.
I used the online order form (as opposed to calling them) as a test, and a necessity -- I tend to get to my eyeglasses orders outside of traditional business hours. Apart from a lens-choice hiccup that I remedied in the ample "notes" area, it went very smoothly. The emails I received with shipping instructions were very clear.
Off they went...
...and back they came with a tack-sharp prescription, clean, and better than new.
I went with the CR-39™ optical resin Next Generation™ Transitions® Lenses to replace the generic photochromic lenses I had in them before. It's an option I really like and in the bright, cold sunlight this morning, they've behaved extremely well. They went from completely clear to fully dark in less than a minute and back just as quickly.
I called them this weekend to talk about the process learned that their machines can use the existing lenses or frames to make the lens templates, so if you've got an old pair of frames (or an old prescription) you'd like to make new again this is an ideal solution.
They're out of the drawer and back to their rightful place upon my nose.
Interested in giving them a try? Click Here. Prices start at $39.
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