A few weeks back, I ordered several pairs of glasses from two online eyeglass manufacturers. The price was fabulous: about $70 shipped for four pair, including two sunglasses, vs. the local NEX shop which charges over $70 each. That is a huge savings of money, but I wondered if the quality would be good, and if they'd actually fit, and how long the order would take. (Kids without glasses can be unpleasant beings.)
I've ordered contact lenses online for years. I also ordered on pair of emergency glasses earlier this summer and they were fine. This was my first big foray into ordering multiple pairs of glasses, and glasses that I expected my children to wear comfortably every day. I have four children wearing glasses, and in this bright climate they really needed prescription sunglasses as well. I was a little nervous but the thought of savings hundreds of dollars on all those glasses was worth the risk. If they were truly awful, we'd just go back to the overpriced NEX and start over.. I used my own tips from Buying Eyeglasses and Contacts Online to search, order, and save some money.
I ordered from two different companies because my daughter fell in love with a particular pair of sunglasses from Zenni Optical, but couldn't find any regular glasses that she liked there. We also ordered from EyeBuyDirect, who has great prices and a (somewhat limited) unconditional return policy. I also shopped through Ebates for the EyeBuyDirect order. I would have used USAA's Membershop, but they're not partners. The Ebates link also gave me a percentage off my order, which was great. Neither cash-back program works with Zenni Optical, unfortunately.
The ordering process was very time consuming for me. I don't do well with shopping online, and glasses are more tricky than other things. It helps if you know the measurements of glasses that you like and fit. Otherwise, there is a lot of measuring and guessing involved. It is definitely a skill that will get much easier the more that you do it. Once you know the measurements, it should be a lot easier next time. It seems like it takes forever to slog through the websites and enter all the information. Eventually, I had all four pairs ordered and in carts.
Shipping time was estimate to be 14 business days for EyeBuyDirect and 7-14 days for the Zenni Optical. The EyeBuyDirect order took exactly 14 business days, which amazed me. The Zenni Optical order took three full weeks to arrive - they weren't even shipped until 13 days after I'd ordered.
The pair that we ordered from EyeBuyDirect has a few issues. First, they lenses aren't set into the frame very well. It clearly wasn't the work of a highly skilled optician, but rather a minimally-trained technician throwing lenses into frames. More importantly, the dimensions of the frames aren't the same as the dimensions listed on the website. These glasses are way too big for my daughter to wear comfortably for regular, everyday glasses. Fortunately, EyeBuyDirect has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, with 14 day return or 12 month replacement options. I've sent them an email requesting that we either put tinted lenses in the frames so that they can be used as sunglasses, or get new glasses altogether. There are some important requirements and restrictions on EyeBuyDirect's guarantee. The first thing to note is that EyeBuyDirect's policy asks that the glasses be returned in the original case with the cleaning cloth. I'm hoping I can track those down so that I can return them. Also, you must request a return authorization number before returning the glasses. Shipping and handling costs will not be refunded. There are much more limitedt refunds and exchanges on designer eyewear, sunglasses, sports frames, progressive lenses, bifocals and trifocals.
I ordered three pairs from Zenni Optical, and we already have issues with two pairs, one of which is a serious issue but totally my fault. My one daughter likes both her pairs, unfortunately, one nosepad has already broken off. Zenni offers free replacement small parts, which will be helpful but is obviously going to take time to arrive at our house. The third pair is the really cute frames that drew us to Zenni Optical originally, and we ordered tinted lenses in them. Unfortunately, I have no experience in ordering tinted lenses and the combination of the frame and the lenses looks pretty awful. Also, I ordered 50% tint, and it isn't nearly as dark as I was imagining. Next time, I will order the more saturated option. Unfortunately, Zenni Optical's return policy only accepts full returns for lab errors, not customer errors. They do offer a 50% refund for customer dissatifaction, and that is certainly better than nothing. This option is hidden in the middle of a paragraph in the return policy and it isn't very obvious. In addition, Zenni Optical's policy requests that you return not only the case but also the plastic bag in which the glasses were shipped. That went out in the trash the day the glasses arrived, so this is a big problem for me. Zenni Optical also requires a return authorization number prior to the return and offers very limited shipping and handling refunds.
All in all, I'm happy with our purchases. I have one great pair, one pair that needs a minor repair for which the company will send parts, one pair that is going back and will be replaced, and one pair that will go back for a 50% refund and I'll reorder with better lenses. Still less than $70 for four pair, and I know I'll do better next time I order. It has been an investment of time, working my way through the websites and figuring out the process, but I try to look at it as training for the future. With two girls still waiting for their appointments, I'll be ordering again soon.
You can find more opinions, plus special deals, about ordering eyeglasses online at the GlassyEyes blog.