Costco vs. Zenni Optical – A Tale of Two Glasses
Recently an unusual coincidence happened to me when I finally got my act together to get a new pair of glasses. The glasses I had been wearing were starting to fall apart, but that was my own fault for mistreating them. I believe I had bought them from Zenni Optical ~3 years ago. (I could be wrong about where and when I got them but that doesn’t matter because I’m 100% satisfied with them.)
I have vision insurance that covers eye examinations and new glasses. I hadn’t used it in a couple of years so now was the time to see exactly what it covered. I took my prescription to Costco, and selected a frame that cost $60 and lenses that cost $80 for a total of $140. I was told that the insurance would pay $63, leaving $77 for me to pay.
When I got home, just for yuks, I double checked the purchase summary from Costco. Guess what – the optician who took my order had made a mistake. He entered 66 instead of 86 in the Axis column for one of the lenses. I called him and he said that I was right and that he’d fix it. He also said that their “auditors” would probably have caught this mistake (remember this). Fine. We all make mistakes, so no harm done. The glasses came in and they were perfect.
As part of this experiment, I decided to try Zenni Optical again to see how their cheap frames and online ordering experience compared to Costco’s. I went to their web site and picked out a $6.95 frame and $37 lenses for a total of $48.80, including shipping. I tried to get the same options for the lenses as I got at Costco but I’m not sure if they’re exactly the same so I couldn’t make an exact cost comparison. Still, it’s interesting to note that the total cost of the Zenni glasses was well under the amount that my insurance would pay.
The Zenni glasses arrived in about a week, and I immediately tried them on. To my surprise, one of the lenses was completely the wrong prescription. Otherwise, the glasses seemed fine. I checked the order and, sure enough, this time I was the one who entered an incorrect number. I had entered 2.50 instead of .250 in Sphere column for the lens. This was entirely my fault, but I’m surprised that Zenni doesn’t do some kind of auditing like Costco claims to do, either when values are entered on the web page, or later on before lenses are made. I don’t know anything about optometry but I would think that it would be possible to flag certain values as unlikely. This shouldn’t result in a canceled order, but a warning message could appear on the web page, or an email message requesting confirmation could be sent.
I contacted Zenni to see what my options were. To my surprise, they agreed to a one-time store credit for the amount I had paid, minus shipping, even though the problem was 100% my fault. This is excellent customer service! I reordered the glasses, being extremely careful to enter my prescription correctly. The glasses arrived several weeks later, and they’re perfect too!
The lessons of this story are 1) check your lens order to make sure nobody made a mistake, and 2) definitely consider Zenni Optical because their price and customer service are excellent.