September 7, 2003 San Carlos -
I hoped to make this a quick change. My vision has become a bit blurrier over the last few years and it was time for an update to the prescription. My old optometrist retired and the new guy just doesn't click with me. He's a nice guy, but he's always joking around and being more emotive than I like in a health professional. So this time I was off to the mall. My last many pairs of glasses have come from Lens Crafters, but I never liked the look of their associated optometry departments; too many people with kids and bad teeth waiting in those little chairs. It felt like triage at Kaiser. Instead, Pearl Vision was clean and quiet. They took me as a walk-in patient and one hour and $54 later I'm walking out with a new prescription. I tried to get new lenses at Pearl Vision, but they wanted to keep the frames for "a few days." I don't think so. I'm off to Lens Crafters. That was Saturday.
Lens Crafters was busy yesterday. Really busy. I waited about 30 minutes to see someone and another 30 minutes later my "in an hour and 15 minutes" lenses were in process. I made a few phone calls and had a sandwich. Returning to LC, I had to wait another 30 minutes in line to get to the pick up. My glasses weren't done yet, but now that an optician was assigned to me, he nicely finished the assembly job - another 15 minutes. The day glasses were fine, but the Ray Ban sun glasses? The right lens had a long semicircular scratch in it. Oh, we'll have to redo that lens. Ok, I'll come back on Sunday.
Today I went in about 1pm. This time the wait was only 15 minutes for a pickup. Again, some final assembly required. However the woman who helps me says that in the final check they found that they had made the lens to the wrong specification and the would have to redo that lens. "Yesterday was a madhouse and we're paying for it today," she says. Or I'm paying for it? Ok. Back to Chili's for a nice salad.
An hour later I'm back in Lens Crafter's waiting line. While waiting this time I hear a woman complaining, "that's not my prescription!" when she tried on her new glasses. "They're progressives" the man says. The customer says, "I didn't order progressives." Oh, we'll have to redo the lenses. Hmmm.
At last my Ray Bans are on my face and seem OK inside. Looking them over I notice a small scratch right in the middle of the left lens - the one that was fine yesterday. "Oh, we'll have to redo the lens." Sheesh.
Making things worse, I have now noticed that my everyday lenses help me more when they are rotated slightly, like the axis on my astigmatism correction is off. LC checks them again and says they are within tolerance from the prescription I have. "Maybe you have to get used to them." I can buy that. Ok.
Since they have to redo the scratched sun glass lens anyway, the woman tells me to keep the Ray Bans with the scratch for now. If I still have problems with the astigmatism in a week, they'll redo the lens and take care of the sun glasses at the same time. If I can adjust to the new lenses then I can just bring back the Ray Bans for a redo. Ok.
I go outside with my new glasses. In the car I put on my Ray Bans and - poinnnngggg - I feel like I'm swimming. Something is badly wrong. I take them off, put them on, take the off. Wow. The right eye is very bright while the left eye is dark. I take off the glasses and look through them while rotating them. Sure enough, the polarization of the right lens is 90 degrees off. Shit.
I race back into Lens Crafters. I am not going to wait in that long line again. The optician who serviced me is already helping someone else, but she's done fast and I'm in her seat lickity split. "Check these out, one of them is way, way off." She disappears into the back and returns a few minutes later with a sad look on her face. "We messed these up." "Yes." "Oh, we'll have to redo them." "Yes." She looks at me. "I'm at your mercy sir. What do you want to do?"
Ok. This time I took a refund of my sun glasses. I don't want them to have the satisfaction of holding my money on them. I'm going to go back to my optometrist at Pearl Vision to see if the day glasses match the prescription he wrote.
For my "done in about an hour" glasses I have now spent about five hours and they have had to redo the lenses 3 times for a pair I didn't even buy in the end. I still don't have any sun glasses and my day vision in my left eye is a bit blurry. Their execution at making glasses just sucks big time. Customer service? Other than the time I had to wait in line, the people were very apologetic and very nice to me. But my God, how do they stay in business?
September 14, 2003 - Saratoga
Later has come. Last week I went back to the optometrist at Pearle Vision. He says the lenses are to specifications. He rechecks my eyes. You know the drill: which is more clear, 1 or 2? 3 or 4? 1 or 2? etc. This time he comes up with a prescription with an axis 7 degrees different from the last one. Hmmm. Luckily for me the Lens Crafter guarantee covers this.
Yesterday I returned to the Menlo Park Lens Crafters. This time I was ready. I had a magazine and I was hungry enough for lunch at Chili's while waiting. Once I got there I, of course, had left my wallet at home. Back home, back to Lens Crafters. There were fewer people at LC this time and I only waited 15 minutes or so. The woman who waited on me was very nice. She understood my story, apologized again for last weekend, and put the new prescription into the system. It takes about 30 minutes to get this all done and towards the end I hear someone at the little table next to me say, "Our polycarbonate machine is down, so you'll get these back on Sunday." Whaaaaa? I return to my woman and ask her. "Let me check." She walks around and comes back to tell me, "yes, with your prescription it won't be done until tomorrow, maybe Monday."
I collect my things and move on.
Now I'm at the Lens Crafters at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose. I explain my situation and they assure me the glasses can be done in an hour. Right. This is the LC I've used over the last several years. They've always been good before. A quick walk around the mall, a bite to eat, bingo, the glasses are ready! I carefully inspect them; no scratches!
I now have two pair of glasses with the new prescription. I am happy.
Seems like the problem is with Menlo Park. While both Lens Crafters have excellent customer service, only San Jose knows how to run their business
Jim Schrempp is a sometimes freelance writer (only Vanity Press will publish his work) living in Saratoga, California. His writings have appeared on numerous pages on his own web site. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else (although Jim wishes more people shared his opinions)