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The following was told to me by a friend 2 days ago, but the ratings are from my own personal experiences.
Sue was made redundant last month and had her eyes tested before starting a job in an office next week. She suspected that using her computer a lot had damaged her eyes. A few months ago she suddenly wasn't able to read small print on packets etc with her glasses on, yet could read them better than before without her glasses. Her eyes always felt strained and at times her sight was blurred, very worrying for Sue.
She wasn't able to get an eye test appointment for 2 weeks at Specsavers so made one at the Opticians opposite which for this op I'll call Specscostalot (I’m not naming the company because what happened might just be that one assistant at fault and not company policy). Her appointment was the next day on Good Friday and the result of the test was good news, sort of.
Her prescription hadn't deteriorated at all. She was told that her reading vision had gone west. Apparently that happens to everybody once they get into their 40s - it's an age thing. The good thing is that because she is short sighted she will be able to see things close up well without her glasses. She was advised to get Varifocals which she was told are better than bifocals because the reading area of the lenses is smaller and not as obvious.
In her relief she allowed the assistant to show her several pairs of glasses and the ones that she liked cost £120 without lenses. She asked how much the Varifocal lenses would be for those and was told £180. Prices range from £120 - £180 depending upon the size of lenses and how small the varifocal bits would need to be. For those of you who don't wear specs Opticians are different in that less costs more.
Sue mumbled that she didn't have much time that day and bunged the £18.50 eye test fee (£16.00 at Specsavers for exactly the same eye test) at the assistant. Before racing out she mentioned that she was unemployed but wouldn't have any proof until the following week. She was told that she would be able to claim the money back off the DSS later.
Specsavers was closed on Good Friday so she checked out the other big Opticians next. A bit better, similar glasses there cost £100 but varifocals would add £180 on to the price. Sue went home disheartened. Glases were important to her but she had been out of work for several weeks and £280 was a lot to fork up out of her dwindling redundancy pay.
On Wednesday she had her first interview for the Jobseekers allowance and at last got her little booklet proving that she was out of work. Armed with that she went to Specsavers and selected a pair of glasses costing £85 complete with normal prescription lenses. Openly displayed were prices for Varifocals, £59 and £79. Much cheaper than the other shops who don’t display their Varifocal prices. Because the shop was extremely busy she had to wait for ages, sitting in front of a window with the sun beating down. Hot, bothered and fed up she was just about to leave when an assistant became available.
The assistant was brilliant. Sue wasn’t entirely sure about her choice so the assistant found several other similar styles for her to try. My friend took a lot of time dithering over the selection, but the assistant was honest about the ones that didn’t suit Sue rather than try to push her into a sale. Another assistant was called over for her opinion, it made Sue feel a very valued customer.
Before her choice was finally made Sue told the assistant that she was claiming the Jobseekers allowance and was advised to nip over to Specscostalot and claim her eye test fee back and to ask for the National Health Service voucher that she was entitled to, which would allow her a reduction of £52.70 off the price of the lenses. This voucher has to be supplied by the Opticians that does the eye test.
The assistant in empty and quiet Specscostalot was helpful enough, filled in the application form and refunded the £18.50 eye test fee – no telling her to claim it off the DSS that time! When Sue asked for the voucher she was told that she couldn’t have it and that she would get the £52.70 knocked off when she returned and ordered new glasses from them.
Fat chance, Sue thought as she left the Opticians. Even with the money knocked off it would cost her considerably more to buy her glasses at Specscostalot than Specsavers. She was also pretty sure that she was entitled to take the voucher and spend it wherever she chose.
Back at Specsavers the assistant reacted angrily to Sues tale. “Right I’m going across to sort them out” she said “It’s illegal to refuse to give a customer their NHS voucher to spend elsewhere”.
Heavily pregnant, the assistant furiously waddled across the road with Sue trying to stifle a giggle at her side. As soon as the Specscostalot assistant saw them she asked if they had come about the voucher. Sue said yes and was fed the excuse that she hadn’t given it to Sue because the optician wasn’t there to sign it until the next day - another different story! The Specsavers assistant said that she wanted it now and that she would bring it across the next day for the all important signature.
Back at Specsavers Sue was offered a further selection of glasses to try on. It took a while but with a lot of help she finally completed her order.
This is what she got: 1 pair of glasses with varifocal and glare resistant lenses for work 1 pair of glasses with varifocal tinted lenses for fun and sun Cost for 2 pairs of trendy specs £176.00 Minus the £52.70 NHS voucher the total cost was **£123.30**
Had she bought from either of the other 2 shops she would have just got 1 pair for over £200. What a massive difference when you consider that the frames are sourced at the same places. Sue left the shop feeling great. A lot of time and help had been given to help her to choose what is after all an important purchase for anybody who wears glasses. I know that feeling because I always use Specsavers myself and wouldn’t go anywhere else now.
My advise is, if you are unemployed find out your rights and make sure that you don't let the unscrupulous fob you off.
Good story. I got mine from SpecSavers and I'm sure it saved me some money.
blindasabat 31.01.2004 20:36
firstly,I think it is a good idea to shop around but some words of wisdom ,not all frames are sourced from the same place ,did the specsavers assistant tell you this? Secondly spectacle frames do range in quality and specsavers produce frames for themselves (which one of the reasons why they are cheaper ) although to the lay person it would be hard to tell one from the other.Lastly re the voucher, you should have been given this but you should have claimed your sight test back from the dss the assistant didnt legally have to refund the £18.50.
proutenigma 13.06.2003 22:35
Although my hubby had a bad experience at specsavers and goes to the same local optician as me these days, I thought your opinion was brill! Angela x