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Recently, I stumbled upon an analogue to buying eyeglasses online. I used to think of shoes, but it's not the same. They're mass-produced and I've exchanged as many pairs to Zappos due to size as I've gotten right the first time.

No, this is a custom industry that has at least one company doing some wonderful things in order taking and tracking that could easily be implemented by the online eyeglasses stores -- online window blinds.

How is it similar to online eyglasses? Measurements are very important. If you're off by a half-inch (or even less in some instances), you're left with some nicely-packaged uselessness. I followed the same method of entering my measurements as I would an eyeglasses prescription, and then double and triple checked it against my notes and a re-measurement of the windows before hitting submit.

My order went like this:

  • I went to
  • I found the type of blinds I wanted to order.
  • I entered my measurements.
  • I chose the details and extras I wanted for the blinds.
  • I added them to my cart.
  • I entered payment information and hit "submit".
  • My order number appeared on the page along with the order details.
  • My computer "dinged" at me as an email hit my inbox.
  • I opened the email and saw something very interesting: bypass.png
    It also had a prominent link to check to status of my order.
  • I double-checked my entered measurements and clicked "Bypass Hold Time".
  • Two days later I got another email stating that my blinds had shipped.
  • Two days (and a half-hour of work) later they were blocking light -- very nicely.
I challenge the online eyeglasses retailers to take this list, do a search and replace on the word "blinds" and pop in "eyeglasses", use their own URL and make this their order process. Give people a chance to verify and if needed fix their own problems. And if they're willing to sign off on their order, let them bypass the "hold time".

Don't hide the status of the order from the customer. Promote the hell out of it. I've never heard of anyone complaining about getting too much information regarding a financial transaction.

Give people the information they crave and you'll do a lot less damage control as people complain about being kept in the dark.

I wish I could say this was the first time I've written on a topic like this. Just over a year ago I stressed much the same thing and it's still not caught on.  

Anyone out there listening?

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At December 1, 2009 at 1:35 PM Anonymous said...

I definitely hear you about hating the feeling about being left in the dark about an order.

The more info and updates about the order, the better.

I also think it would be great if we could override the wait time. I can get pretty impatient :)

At December 1, 2009 at 3:35 PM Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more! Order status please!! Its disappointing to check the mailbox EVERY day (after what you assume has been an appropriate wait time) and finding...nothing. The excitement of getting new glasses at such fabulously low prices has been replaced with frustration. The Geek Squad is a wonderful example of how to keep customers well-informed with their frequent updates via email and included link to more detailed information about the current status of your item.

At December 1, 2009 at 10:33 PM Frank from FL said...

I don't mind waiting on the mail to get my eyeglasses. I discovered and over a year and a half ago and ordered 1 pair from each. Well, since then and wearing each about the same amount of time, I must say, Zenni has won my overall vote. Zenni was $72 and 39dollar was $179. I opted for the premium Verilux lenses from 39dollar and they actually seem a little inferior to the ultra-cheap lenses from Zenni. It's also fair for me to mention the frames from Zenni now need replacement as they has fatigued from flexing at the bridge because I was a little rough with them. The 39dollar frames are still strong. My local LensCrafters store (where I got my prescription through my insurance) tried desperately to dissuade me from purchasing online touting inferior frames, lenses and servicing. LensCrafters price with my insurance was $800, out of the question for me on a tight budget nowadays. They mentioned they use a premium Verilux lens which is why I chose that option from 39dollar. They also flat out refused to assist me when I asked about the $99 advertised glasses on their wall. They would not even show me the rims selection stating they were low quality. Yes, it is time consuming to order online due to measuring and using existing glasses as a reference. Also not being able to try them on before hand was a concern for me so I spent extra time to make my choices. I will most likely never purchase glasses from a brick and mortar establishment again. With the prices offered by Zenni, I can afford to get new glasses every year. One more note regarding my optical insurance, I was unable to get reimbursed (even partially) using 39dollar because their receipt is not broken down into individual pricing (as it is online during ordering)and even if it was, I would have exceeded the $ limits of certain individual expenses. The receipt from Zenni had individual pricing of each aspect of my order (just as it appeared online) and I was able to get reimbursed 100% not exceeding the allowances by the insurance.

At December 2, 2009 at 7:00 AM Stacie said...

I used to really like Zenni, but the last two pairs I ordersed took forever to get here to Indiana and are not half as nice as the pairs I got from Eye Buy direct and Coastal Contacts.

They might be OK for backups, but there is something not quite right about $8 for glasses.

At December 2, 2009 at 5:07 PM Anonymous said...

Well tickle me appropriate... Wishing to buy prescription eyewear like a pair of "blinds".

'Nuff said.

Barry Santini

At December 2, 2009 at 8:10 PM Ira said...


Such thoughtful comments. I am surprised you'd use your real name around here...

Apparently your reading comprehension is lacking too.

I find it interesting with all of the posts you'd choose one that really has nothing to do with how much you're overcharging all of us.

Regardless, thanks for stopping by.

At December 3, 2009 at 4:12 AM Anonymous said...

High five Ira!

And the frustration due to uncertain delivery times still pales in comparison to the lingering frustration in the financial way after buying glasses from the local optical stores.

At December 3, 2009 at 8:27 AM Unknown said...

I agree with Anonymous! I'd rather wait 3 weeks for a $70 pair of photocromic progressives than wait 1 to 2 weeks for a $300 to $500 pair of similar glasses. I must have purchased 20 pairs of glasses since finding the online optical shops. Those 20 pairs cost less than the 2 pair that I would normally order from a local optician. It seems that the more issues you have with your site, the glasses prices rise exponentially from local places.

At December 3, 2009 at 8:27 AM Unknown said...

Opps, I meant


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