Newest Review: ... lenses and glasses and ASDA offered me a good price for contact lenses and solution. I find there service very very slow, this could be ... more
Member Name: Zmugzy
Date: 16/04/10, updated on 14/07/12 (1176 review reads)
Advantages: You get to meet a lot of people...
Disadvantages: ...but you'll never get to see them properly.
This is a review of Asda opticians and my experience of the contact lens assessment and the procedure that you have to go through in order to buy contact lenses. I chose Asda opticians for several reasons: they were recommended to me by a family member, the store was located a short bus ride away and they seemed to be the cheapest around when it came to contact lenses. The Asda store I'm writing about is the big Asda Walmart Superstore in Huyton near Liverpool. It's so big that when you're timing your journey for any appointment you should take into account the time it takes you to get from the entrance to the actual opticians within the store - possibly a ten minute walk on a busy crowd pushing day. The opticians is located in the basement/lower floor area.
I decided to get contact lenses for the first time after several years of going without. I'd never had any problems with them in the past, I just became tired of the chore required to stick them in every day. I had in fact been looking for a new pair of glasses, but for too long I was unable to decide which ones to choose given the billions of different styles, brands and varieties. Did you know that there are more types of glasses frames in your local opticians than known stars in the Milky Way? The other problem I have with picking glasses is that I can no longer tell what they look like when I try them on and look in the mirror - yes, my eyes really are that gozzy. And yes, I know they have those photo machines but I don't want my picture taken in a public place, especially when 95% of the glasses I do try on make me look like either Harry Hill or Benny Hill - an experience far too traumatic in a busy Asda store. So regarding the contact lenses, I thought I'd try one of the monthly/daily use throw away brands - something completely new to me - an exciting new adventure... or so I thought.
To get contact lenses you need to have a separate eye test in addition to your regular eye test for spectacles - I think they call it an assessment. Whatever they call it this is just one of the many conniving ways opticians use in order to fleece their customers of their hard earned readies. When contact lenses first became popular the assessment was always tied in with your regular eye test - it is after all basically the same test with one or two minor additions for effect. Opticians decided to 'invent' a requirement for a contact lens assessment in addition to the regular eye test just to get some extra dosh - instead of just paying £15 for an eye test customers were persuaded to part with an extra £15 if they wanted contacts.
Anyway... back to Asda. Booking an appointment for my assessment was no problem and I was there within about a week of the phone call. If you've already had an eye test somewhere else you have to make sure you take along your prescription. I had imagined that obtaining my contacts would require two trips - one for the assessment and one to pick up my contacts. Man was I wrong!
On the day of my assessment I was taken to the test room after a short wait sitting on one of those faux leather couches were you sink so low that your backside is almost on ground level. A slim attractive Greek looking female employee wearing thick framed designer glasses came over and sat next to me to take my details (I noticed she expertly perched herself on the edge of the seat - no doubt to avoid sinking back and unavoidably rolling over into my lap). I on the other hand struggled to maintain an air if dignity with my knees almost touching my chin and my coat jacket covering my ears. After clambering to my feet I was led to test room to be welcomed by a young blonde haired Eton schoolboy (without his uniform). I detected a slight nervous twitch as he invited me to sit back in the big black chair. On doing so I quickly double checked to make sure this really was an opticians and not a dentist.
The assessment was simple and fast: read some letters on the bottom line, rest your head on this, have some light shone in your eyes, look up, down, left and right, take off your pants and bend over - the usual routine. In fact the only addition not present in my regular eye test were several questions regarding my contact lens wearing history. There might have been something else but I was hard pushed trying to ascertain what I was paying an extra £15 for. Oh, I did have to go to a corner with a little mirror and practice putting in a pair of lenses and then taking them out. Probably a good idea if you've never used contacts before, but a waste of time for me as putting in lenses is like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it.
We finally went through the purchase options. I decided to go for the daily option - you get thirty pairs that are supposed to last you a month but you know you can make them last at least three. So I thought... just place the order and I'll come back and collect. Not so. I was told I would have to come back to pick up a trial set of five pairs of contacts and wear them for a week. Then I would come back again and relate my experience of using them. I could see a long term relationship was about to begin.
So upon returning a week or so later to pick up the trial lenses I am greeted at the counter by an assistant who hands over two boxes with five lenses in each - one box set for each eye. He kindly marks the two boxes L and R to make it easy for me. He then makes an appointment for the following week. On getting them home I try on a pair. Something's not right. I check the boxes and double check my prescription. The assistant has marked the boxes wrongly. L on the box for my right eye and R on the box for my left. I take out the lenses and drop one on the floor. I dispose of them and try one another pair. Still not right. The vision in my right eye is distorted. I eventually go through three pairs of lenses in half an hour just trying to figure out which lens goes in which eye. Maybe my eyes need time to adjust. I spend a few hours at home wearing a set of lenses but the vision in my right eye is still not right. Whilst watching Match of the Day I can definitely see two Fernando Torres's playing for Liverpool (oh, if only we had two...). By late evening I have more than a bit of a headache. Once again double checking the boxes and my prescription I realise that the lens prescription for my right eye is too strong.
My next appointment arrives (take note this is my third trip to Asda opticians). I tell them the prescription is not right. This time I see a different assistant (there seem to be countless staff working at Asda opticians who come and go without trace). He informs a lady optician of my plight and she reluctantly admits that the prescription was "slightly out". The assistant orders a new trial set of five pairs and makes an appointment for me to come back in ten days to pick them up.
On my fourth trip, at least a month since my first appointment, I meet the assistant from two weeks ago who marked my boxes wrongly. I remind him of his mistake and ask him for my new trial set. He says that he can't give me any because they don't have any in stock and besides I must have another assessment to test the trial pair that were incorrect so as to correct them. I am slightly miffed about this but try to keep my calm although I'm sure there was a visible throbbing vein on my forehead. I am asked to put in the faulty contacts (I had one pair left) and I'm then assessed by another female optician who I've never seen before but who by her dress code is clearly into S&M (or was that just my imagination?). She basically gives me the same assessment that I've already had but this time in a kinder more overly polite manner. I really don't see the point. She does her best to make polite conversation but all I can hear is a voice in my head saying "make sure you ask for a discount, don't let them get away with it". Then my head almost hits the ceiling when the optician tells me I'll be charged another £15. "I've already paid once" I tell her. "Oh, sorry I didn't realise", she replies. I leave the test room shaking and I start to get that twitch in my left eye again. I make my way to the counter and make another appointment for a new trial set of five pairs of contact lenses. I will have to come back in ten days to pick them up. I bet this never happens to Harry Hill I ponder as I leave the store disgruntled.
Ten days later I pick up the second set of trial contact lenses on this my fifth trip to Asda. This was also my fifth round bus trip. At £3.30 for a round bus trip my journeys to Asda opticians have by this time already cost me more than the actual cost of the assessment. I go to the opticians counter and wait in a queue for fifteen minutes behind an obese woman wearing pyjama bottoms and who is clinging on to three prams. I then realise this woman isn't waiting in a queue, she is just talking to her friend and blocking my way. Doh! I eventually get to the counter to be greeted by another assistant who I have never seen before and who, I have a sneaking suspicion, I will never see again. After a ten minute rummage through nearly every drawer in the store she hands over two more boxes of trial lenses This time the prescription is correct.
I've worn one pair and the second lot of trial contact lenses seem fine. Liverpool FC are once more playing with eleven players. I was due to return for another appointment after wearing this second trial pair of lenses. But that was about a month ago. I doubt they noticed that I never turned up. I had by that time realised that my experience of trying to purchase contact lenses from Asda opticians was akin to a chapter in a Kafka novel - no matter how much I tried, I knew I'd never reach my goal. I knew it would require at least two further trips to Asda before I finally got my lenses and I feared what might happen on my next appointment. Would I meet yet another female optician who would give yet another assessment? Would I be condemned once more to sitting on the world's most physically challenging faux-leather couch? Would I be interrogated by a Greek woman dressed in rubber? Perhaps what put me off most of all was those store assistants who mysteriously kept disappearing. The whole experience had become quite unnerving and in the end I knew I could never return.
I hope my review will help you come to a decision about whether to choose Asda opticians for your contact lens assessment. As I finish writing this review I am still wearing my grotty old specs with their lenses all scratched and as I look out of the window... it's a fuzzy old world.
Summary: Expect a long slog and a lot of travelling that will lead you up a blind alley.
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