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The people that run Pearle Vision are not stupid, but they count on us to be.

Owned by our friends at Luxottica, they have resources that I can only dream of; big marketing budgets, cool swag (perhaps a nifty fleece pullover for casual Fridays), and a true marketing genius -- "What if we gave away a camera?"

I was clicking around the other night and noticed an advertisement for a FREE CAMERA with purchase at their stores. I expected to see an off-brand 2 megapixel deal, and was surprised to see it was a name brand. I haven't bought a digital camera in a couple years so I've been a bit out of the loop in regards to pricing. One quick trip to Amazon priced it out to $93 even (Canon A470).

The fine print is the killer though:

Please allow eight weeks delivery for merchandise redeemed online.

You DON'T ACTUALLY GET THE CAMERA. You get a voucher for a camera -- that you'll get in February (when this camera will likely be about $75).

So, as I'm wont to do, I came up with four options if you need new glasses and would love a new digital camera.

Option 1:
Pearle Vision
$350 for 1 pair of eyeglasses.
Your "Free" Camera Arrives in February (if you remember to redeem your voucher)
Total: $350 (Start taking pictures in February -- in overpriced glasses.)

Option 2:
Online Retailer
$40 for 1 pair of eyeglasses.
Order your Canon A470 from Amazon for $93 + $10 shipping (it arrives the day after tomorrow)
Total: $143 (Save over $200 and get the camera this week)

Option 3:
Online Retailer
$40 for 1 pair of eyeglasses.
$50 for 1 pair of sunglasses.
Order your Canon A470 from Amazon for $93 + $10 shipping (it arrives the day after tomorrow)
Total: $193 (Save over $150 and get the bonus eye-saving sunglasses)

Option 4:
Online Retailer
$40 for 1 pair of eyeglasses.
Order the far superior Canon SD790IS for $199 + FREE standard shipping
Total: $249 (Save $100 and get better stuff)

Heck, you could even get into an entry-level Digital SLR for only a few dollars more!

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I wrote about this on, but wanted to call it out over here at GlassyEyes. I wonder how much thought they're putting into the online competition. LensCrafters is dead to me -- and increasingly so to pretty much everyone I come across who wears glasses.

Seems they expect things to get better in six months or so. I think this "economic downturn" has potential to be a boon for the online eyeglasses retailer. They need to continue to deliver, quality, value and please, oh please, some new (but not so gosh darn trendy) frame designs..

NOTE TO RETAILERS: I'm open to discuss this with you.

I'd guess Luxottica is aware of the online places, but probably unaware of the movement beginning to really take hold. Big companies are always the last to know -- they have so many layers of insulation.

We improvise, that's what we do. 

I was at dinner tonight with my sons and dad and I noticed two women having drinks at the table immediately next to ours.  I wasn't "checking them out" (Angela). From where I was sitting, my choices were; dudes basejumping on ESPN, my youngest making fart noises, or these two stylish women and their eyeglasses.

As the meal was winding down, I knew this was a perfect chance to "drop some knowledge" on them. I opened my wallet looking for a couple of my kick-ass GlassyEyes cards -- and was greeted by a distinct lack of the exact thing I was looking for

No need to worry, I have some in the car! 

Strike two, what's a guy to do? Bag it? That's what the old Ira would have done. Not the new, improved Ira.

I tore the receipt in two pieces and created some magic -- as you can clearly see in the high-end cellphone photo above.

It's quite possible that they'll deposit their gum in them at the end of the night, but maybe not. One of them said she was looking to get some new glasses. Perhaps I just saved her $300 in that one semi-awkward moment.

I challenge you to do the same. I'll even help with a fist full of cards (of the kick-ass variety) if you send me your address! 

Approaching women in a restaurant/bar... where was this "skill" hiding back in the early nineties?

NOTE TO SELF: Load up on a fresh stack of cards for the car.

It's been two years (and a day) since I launched GlassyEyes on the afternoon of that first eyeglasses-related blog post. I never imagined it would build to this.

I planned on a new site design and a couple of new features to mark the occasion, but I've had contract gig in an actual office environment for the past five weeks. It's really put a dent in my time for the extra stuff. Look for an updated version of this site in early 2009.

Thanks for being here, telling your friends and for coming back.

Here's to two more, and remember "Eyeglasses stores are still for suckers!"

24 hours Buy One get one Free
This is drawing an enormous amount of interest to EyeBuyDirect today (smart move guys!).

There are still a couple of hours left in this event. If you're in need of a pair or two of glasses, now is one of those special times when the price is right -- even better than right. With EyeBuyDirect's satisfaction policy, you're in good shape.

This deal is good on frames $14.95 and up. Single-vision only.

Time is running out!

Ever since I left the comfort of the steady paycheck to forge my way trying to build a company with an old friend, I started giving blood regularly. Every eight weeks I head to the Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Bloomington, Minnesota and open up a vein. I've learned a lot in the process about humanity -- and even more about effective tracking processes.

Each and every one of the people running these online eyeglasses establishments ought to go give blood -- today, like put down whatever you're doing and dial 411 for the nearest location. I think they might notice a few ways to make a big difference in their businesses. The Red Cross Blood Donation Centers are a people-heavy workplace, but the procedures that they've implemented protect against a few of the things that all businesses must address with their people:

  1. Complacency
  2. Staff turnover
  3. Bad press
  4. Customer dissatisfaction
  5. Legal "difficulty"

You retailers are delivering a solid product at a good price, but you can do more to make the process accessible to the millions yet to punch up your URLs. There are mixed reviews for all of you. I, like the vast majority of people, have had great success and will never go back to the mall, but I've never once felt like I knew when my new glasses would arrive.

I've been asking for retailer reviews since the site started in November, 2006 and one of the pervasive themes is that there is little by way of notification of the status of orders. Often, even a call to customer service will yield at best, little more than frustration and a sense that no one seems to give a damn, and at worst hostility.

One of the things that the internet affords us is efficiency through the use of software. It's possible that all but the most incredible need for customer service can be handled in an automated fashion. After some of the calls I (and others) have had to endure, it'd be a better alternative to the current condition.

Here are the basics that NEED to happen:
  1. Send an order confirmation with expected timeframes, contact information, prescription verification and billing information
  2. Define the production stages and log events when the glasses enter and exit each of these stages
  3. Create a way for your customers to get status of their orders online -- whenever they want it
  4. Email the customer upon shipment of the order -- again with contact information

As a retailer you're going to get three VERY IMPORTANT returns on this investment; actionable statistical information, happier customer service people, and repeat customers -- and additionally some really solid press on a blog called "GlassyEyes".

Without it, you're going to be the butt of many posts in forums like these.

I'd argue that during my two-plus years at this none of the other sites in this space have done so much to improve the online prescription eyeglasses shopping experience than EyeBuyDirect.

The site has been completely transformed over the past two years into the most useful and feature-rich site of the group. It's busy -- perhaps just a bit too busy for my taste, but it's a solid set of features coupled with the best warranty/return policies. They take a lot of the risk out of the equation.

EyeBuyDirect is having a 24-hour sale on Monday, but this weekend, we GlassyEyes folk have an opportunity to get an extra 36-hours of shopping opportunity to give them a try. The $7.95 frames are excluded -- but even two at $14.95+ is a fantastic deal. You'll pay $5 a pair for the requisite UV coating and about $7 for anti-reflective.

I plan on taking them up on this offer (and playing with some of the site's features) this weekend. Will you?

UPDATE: Ron emailed me today with the following: "Offer includes only single vision lenses with anti-scratch coating." In my haste to get this post up, I neglected to mention it. Thanks Ron!

I've never masked my disdain for Luxottica and what they've done to the optical industry here (in the States) and increasingly around the world. I've been kicking this idea around for quite awhile. 

See it as an attempt to inform those looking for the same coupons I was looking for in late 2006 when this online-eyeglasses world unfolded to me. Eighty dollars off or even half-price at LensCrafters is still an outrageous fee to pay for glasses no better than the twenty pair scattered around my home and car.

Take a look and share (or blog) the link. People need to know what they are dealing with when they walk through those sliding glass doors at the mall.