Shortly before I had to renew my driver’s license last year, I decided that I needed to get my eyes checked.  Since I had not been to an eye doctor in nearly 10 years, I considered this a start over because the place that I had been going to had long been out of business.

 

The list of eye doctors that I considered was a pretty short list.  I decided on a choice of two: the one my mother went to and the one my father went to.  Since my father had the most recent experience going, I decided to go to that eye doctor.

 

This particular eye doctor advertises in the newspaper as part of the Eyemart Express ads.  Since he advertised that walk-ins were welcome and no appointment was needed, I decided this was the place to go.  On top of that was a coupon for a discount on the eye exam.

 

When I arrived, I spent about 20 minutes filling out the required paperwork.  By the time I was done, the eye doctor was ready to see me.  Since the place had no other waiting customers, I got right in.

 

Mistake #1:  If you see no other customers around, be wary of the business.

 

The entire eye exam took approximately 20 minutes, much shorter that what I was used to for an eye exam.  What the eye doctor told me was that I needed bifocals.  WHAT BIFOCALS?  I AM NOT THAT OLD!!!

 

So he wrote up my prescription for what should be my new glasses.  Skeptical as I was, I went on my way.

 

So now it was all downhill from here:  finding someone to make a new pair of glasses.  My goal was to find a pair of frames similar to the ones I already use.

 

Stop #1 was Classic Eyewear in Scarborough Maine.  This is the company in which I had been getting all of my glasses my entire life.  The company has moved several times over the years from going from downtown Portland to being at the Maine Mall to their current location on Route 1.

 

The afternoon I went there was no other customer there.  Therefore mistake #1 was in play and it was no wonder.  When I explained to the person on duty at this place of my problem of walking up and downstairs, she recommended that I get 2 pairs of glasses instead of getting bifocals.  I was nearly floored when I was told that the price would be nearly $1,000 for 2 pairs of glasses!!!  At this point, I told the clerk that I would think about it and return later should I decided to go with them.  At that price, I never returned.

 

So now I had to decide on 2 pairs of glasses, not the one I originally thought of.

 

Stop #2 was Eyemart Express.  This place was fairly busy and because of that I just looked around and saw that the prices were reasonable (around $30 per pair for the kind I liked, not including lens).  I decided to come back later when it was a little less busy.

Stop #3 was LensCrafters in the mall.  Always be suspicious of any company that always advertises “help wanted with no experience necessary”.  This was quite apparent when the young lady asked if I needed help.  I told her that I was looking for frames similar to what I already had.  She then took my glasses and opened and closed about 25 different drawers under the shelves to find something/anything similar to what I had.  After about 10 minutes of this searching, she asked her supervisor if there was anything that she knew of that was similar and she said no.

 

The salesgirl returned to me with my glasses and stated that there was nothing that they had that was similar to what I wanted.  REALLY?  SERIOUSLY?!?     It is hard to believe that this chain store had nothing at all.  So I left, but not disappointed given the incompetence of this employee.

 

Mistake #2:  Be wary of “No Experience Needed” in a job like this.  Incompetence runs rampart without knowledge.

 

Stop #4 was Maine Mall Eyecare.  This store was located in the food court area of the mall.  Like other stores, there were no other customers in the store so when the salesgirl approached I asked if she had anything similar to what I currently had.  Without even handling them, she said she carried ones similar to them, but they would cost about $400 per pair.  I thanked the girl and quickly left this store as well.

 

I did not stop at Pearle Vision Center as I had bad experiences with them years ago and didn’t bother to ever return.  So it seemed that my only choice was Eyemart Express.

 

So off I went to this place to try to get help.  The store has a procedure of having you sign a sheet of paper in either the initial transaction or pick-up column.  So after about 20 minutes of waiting, I was finally helped by a young salesgirl.  With the exception of Classic Eyewear, I was bothered that all of these salesclerks were under 20 years old (or at least appeared to be).

 

After explaining everything that I wanted and needed, my bill would come to just over $125.  Certainly more than I wanted to pay, but less from what others were going to charge.

 

Now the caveats:

  • The frames you pick are the exact ones that will be made into glasses.  The company has no overstock so if a lot people have tried on the same frames, they could be scratched as was the case with one pair that I wanted.
  • Don’t believe those advertised prices.  I don’t know where they get the prices from but since most of the frames are over $50, chances are your bill will be over $100 as well.
  • Don’t hold them to that one hour service deal.  The store was much too busy and as I will explain it took much, much longer than that.

 

After giving them my order, I was told that I could return later that afternoon to pick up my glasses. This was the only way I could do it as I don’t own a cellphone to contact me.

When I went back later that afternoon, they gave me the bad news that their machine was broken and that I would have to return the next week to get my glasses. Granted they said that the machine should be fixed the next day (on Saturday, no less), but because they was far behind, mine would not be ready until the following week.  So much for that one hour service.

 

When I went back to get my glasses and wait another 20 minutes for pick-up, I decided to start wearing them when I got home.  This is when the problems began.  First, both pairs of glasses were cloudy.  Maybe I just wasn’t used to them yet.  Secondly, one pair had a scratched lens.

 

I decided after a week to return to have the glass replaced.  So after waiting another 20 minutes, I told them of the scratch and after much going back and forth, they decided to replace the lens at no charge.  However, this time it would take about a week to get a new lens as apparently it was not one in stock.

 

So after a week, I got the glasses back after waiting nearly another 20 minutes and all seemed fine except one thing:  I CAN’T SEE OUT OF EITHER PAIR!!

 

The question to this is who is to blame?

 

Is it the eye doctor by not giving me the right prescription or the eyeglass place for getting the wrong lens or was it me not being able to adjust to the new 2 pairs of glasses and expecting to see more than I should?

 

Any way you look at it, I say everyone is to blame in this.  I believe there was way too much incompetence on everyone’s part to nail just one person.  The bottom line is that right now I am not wearing either pair of glasses as I can’t see from either one and have resorted to wearing the pair that is well over 10 years old.  At least I can see somewhat out of that pair.

 

I am writing this more than a year after this happened as I feel that since Eyemart Express has been advertising a lot lately that I wanted to warn people of just how bad they really were.

 

Summary:

 

Eyemart Express, LensCrafters, Maine Mall Eyewear, Classic Eyewear:

 

  • Cheap prices than competition. (Eyemart Express)
  • Don’t believe those advertised prices as most frames are much more than that. (Eyemart Express)
  • Incompetent help except at Classic Eyewear.
  • One-hour service is just an illusion. (Eyemart Express)

 

Final Score:

  • 5  (Eyemart Express)
  • 1  (LensCrafters)
  • 2  (Maine Mall Eyewear)
  • (Classic Eyewear)