“ Online Dispensing Opticians. „
I was recently due a routine eye test. I usually choose an optician for this purely on the basis of what frames they have on offer. This time round however I struggled to find any optician with anything I liked so I opted for Specsavers purely because they were the least worst option. My prescription had a slight change so I bought a cheapish pair of rimless glasses but when they arrived although I liked them they weren't as nice as my old glasses or as lightweight because they weren't made of titanium.
Having lost a pair of these glasses not long after getting them and having to pay a lot of money for a replacement pair I had considered buying a second pair of glasses in Specsavers utilising their buy one get one free offer but eventually I ruled that out because I didn't like the glasses enough. Instead I decided to look online to see if there may be a cheaper option available.
A Google search revealed a site called www.glassesframesandlenses.com which just so happened to be selling the very frames I had just reluctantly given up. These were very competitively priced and upon exploring the site more I decided I would purchase my second pair of glasses there.
~~The Site & Ordering~~
The homepage contains a lot of information regarding what the company offer and how to use the site to buy glasses. The first thing I did was e-mail them for a copy of their guide to pitfalls in purchasing online and how to avoid them. I would advise anyone considering using the site to purchase glasses to download this because if you make a mistake inputting your prescription you will be liable for additional charges.
Having read the guide I decided to check if on the off chance there were frames I preferred to my Stepper rimless ones. There is a huge selection of frames and you can try them on virtually by uploading a picture of yourself and then use the site to place the frames on your face. I tried this with some frames I liked the look of and found it helpful enough to let me rule them out.
It's easy to find glasses on the site thanks to a search tool which enables you to limit your search by frame style, brand, price, gender and colour. An advanced search function enables you to search using your prescription to find frames that can accommodate your lenses. Once you click on the frames you are interested in the site gives you the dimensions which I find a useful touch.
The price structure is fairly straightforward. The cost of your frames includes the cost of single vision lenses. If these are all you need the only additional cost you need to consider is tinting or Transition lenses and their highest level of anti scratch coating. Bear in mind the basic lenses do already come with an anti-scratch coating however.
If you require bifocal lenses the cost is an additional £50. There are two kinds of varifocal lenses available with their premium range costing £89 and their bespoke lenses coming in at £119. In addition to this selection you can also buy branded lenses with the site offering lenses by Zeiss, Hoya, Rodenstock, Nikon Presio and Essilor Varilux.
Postage is free but it's worth noting that this doesn't include any insurance. As Royal Mail will only cover the loss of items worth £46 via regular mail it's worth paying £7 for Special Delivery which will fully insure your glasses in the event of the package being lost or damaged.
I have to say I have been very impressed with this website although that's not to say there aren't a few minor niggles either.
Choosing glasses is, I think, easy thanks to the exhaustive search engine. The frames I wanted were easy to find and to buy you select the frames first which then takes you on to the next stage of ordering, which is lenses.
As I only needed single vision lenses I clicked on the option for them. The default lenses which are free of charge are thin 1.59 index polycarbonate with anti-scratch, anti-reflective & UV400 protection coatings included in the cost. There are lots of additional options included here at extra cost including super thin 1.67 index plastic for £60 and super flat freeform double aspheric 1.74 index plastic for £199. I opted for the default lenses.
The next option is for anti-reflective lens coating which is included in the price. You can pay £10 more for super hydrophobic coatings. If you want tinted lenses you select them here too with coloured lenses costing an additional £10 or Transition lenses available for £50.
Having selected Transition lenses I then moved on to the prescription page. I must admit I found this a little confusing at first and did consider e-mailing a scan of my prescription to the company. I decided to play safe by popping in to Specsavers and asking them to help me through the information I had to input and it's to their credit they did this without charge or quibble. Once I had a better understanding of my prescription I found entering the details straightforward but if you have any doubts I would recommend you e-mail the prescription instead.
You can pay by debit card, credit card or Paypal. Delivery is added on the final page before payment with several options available but once again I would stress you choose Special Delivery. I had found a code offering 10% off which more than covered the cost of Special Delivery so my advice would be to search online for a code before placing your order.
Once my order was placed I received an e-mail from the company which clearly showed what I had ordered, including my prescription. My estimated delivery date was 3 weeks from the date of order with the caveat they could arrive sooner, although I have to say this was longer than I had understood to be the case when I originally browsed the site.
I was kept updated by e-mail regarding the status of my order throughout the process and received a message 9 days after ordering to let me know they had been despatched. Because I had used the Special Delivery service this meant I knew to expect them the following day and sure enough that's when they arrived.
The glasses were packed in a small bubble wrap envelope and inside the case they were wrapped again in a soft cloth case. They also came with a small microfibre cleaning cloth and spare nose pads. I received a compliment slip which was hand written thanking me for my purchase in addition to a more formal order slip from the company. I thought this was great and I really liked the personal touch this gave to my order.
The glasses themselves are great and exactly what I ordered. They fitted perfectly which I have to say had worried me slightly but it's worth bearing in mind any high street optician will help you if glasses need tightening and while some charge a fee for this, many do not.
Overall I think this site is very good - especially if you know exactly what you want style wise. The only real quibble I have is they do not accept NHS vouchers for glasses and nor do they offer children's frames. This is a real shame although it does have to be said you can buy a pair of single vision frames with lenses from here for £15 which will hardly break the bank. There is also a distinct lack of designer frames and while I don't choose frames on the basis who designed them if you do then you may struggle to find something on the site.
The service I received was excellent and if I ever lose a pair of glasses again I will have no hesitation in using this site for a replacement pair at a fraction of the cost charged on the high street. I eventually paid £159 including delivery for my glasses with Transition lenses - when I had bought the same frames with the same lenses from Boots Opticians back in 2010 they had set me back £285 - I think that price differential speaks for itself.