Buy Your Glasses Online For $28 at EyeGlassDirect

Here’s an interesting entrepreneurial story from this month’s SmartMoney magazine. Imagine that you work at LensCrafters making eyeglasses. You see the extremely large profit margins. You go home, buy the same equipment, and install it in your condo. You train some technicians to do most of the work. You call it EyeGlassDirect.com and start selling basic glasses with frame for $28. All while still working at LensCrafters!

I’ve been wearing glasses for over a decade, and I’ve never even thought about buying them online. The store seems to be legit, it has a 30-day unconditional exchange policy and a relatively clean Better Business Bureau report. The glasses include add-ons like UV and anti-scratch coatings that sometimes cost extra.

$28 seems like a great price for those without insurance or just looking for a basic set of glasses. I’ve always felt LensCrafters was mainly for those that had vision insurance. My current insurance only covers either contacts or glasses, so I choose to pay out-of-pocket for glasses every couple of years (and add it to my flexible spending account). I have high-index lenses, so I’ll have to dig up my old Costco receipt to see if I should try these guys next time. Anyone use them before?

Added: You can find reviews for this and other online shops at GlassyEyes. I hate it when magazines mention bloggers but don’t give out their websites.

Comments

  1. I heard about a bunch of discount eyeglass sites at a blog called glassyeyes, which has pretty detailed reviews. I’ve personally ordered a nice titanium memory frame for $80 from Optical4Less (which is based in Hong Kong, so use a credit card with 0 or low foreign transaction fee). Those are my main glasses. Even better is Zenni.com, which has complete prescription glasses starting at $8.95. Their frames are more funky, so I got 3 different pairs: one conservative wire frame backup for my main frames, some funky thick plastic frames for when I’m playing with my 10 month old (he likes to yank them off my face), and a pair of really awesome sunglasses (which only costs $5 extra).

  2. I end up spending $200-$300 on glasses once every 1-1.5 years. My prescription doesn’t change but I manage to mangle them with normal use. The kids don’t help either. I usually buy a nice set of sunglasses with them. I’ve seen these cheap glasses but have been hesitant to buy them.

    What I have done is maxed out my flexible spending account so I can get lasik this year. I’m nervous about it but I’m excited at the possibility I will drop eyeglasses altogether. Also for the first time, I will be able to spend less money buying a fancy set of designer glasses at the mall.

    :)

  3. Boston Gal (aka Jane Dough) says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Yes, I have purchased eye glasses online. You can get a basic pair for as little as $13 (shipped!). I posted about my experience here – Quest for Cheap Eyeglasses. ~Dawn over at Frugal for Life has also recently reaped savings by getting eyeglasses online.

    My two pair of glasses work very well – never again will I pay ridiculous pearle vision or lens crafter prices for glasses!

  4. I don’t know about EyeGlassDirect, but I just my lenses replaced through 39DollarGlasses.com. I sent in my old frames, my prescription, and they sent them back with new lenses in a few days.

    Basic lenses are $39, but you have to pay $24.95 for “premium anti-reflective” coating. Plus, my frames are semi-rimless, so that adds an extra $10. Total = $73.95.

    But LensCrafters wanted $290 to do the exact same thing. Plus, they said it would take two weeks to get them done. It’s sad that shipping my frames to IL and having them shipped back was actually quicker.

    I’m never going to buy glasses in a store again.

  5. Bilos – Thanks for the GlassyEyes link, it was really hard to find any reviews. I could have totally used $8.95 glasses when I was a teenager. I bought glasses insurance and used it every year.

    Lasik… one day.

    I don’t remember if anti-reflect was included at Costco. I’m definitely comparison shopping next time.

  6. Even though I had used my VSP insurance benefit for contacts, I showed my Blue Cross Health Insurance card (no vision benefit) to Lens Crafters and saved 40%; AAA would’ve saved me 30%. They were done in an hour.

  7. I can’t believe I didn’t think to go online for glasses. My prescription never changes but I get new glasses once a year. Even with insurance my doctor charges a mint. I’m willing to pay an extra 10% above internet prices for local service but that’s going to be the max from now on. Great Post!

  8. Thanks for the link. I haven’t seen the story yet — which she said she’d send. Hmmm…

    I get dozens of emails a day from people with questions and reviews. You wouldn’t believe the number of hits I’m getting from links of private optometry forum sites.

    We’re starting to take a bite out of their all-too-fat wallets.

  9. Hey Ira, I couldn’t find the article online either. It’s the very last article on the most recent print issue of SmartMoney. You are only mentioned by name, so it was hard to find GlassyEyes. How hard is it to include a URL, writers? :)

  10. I wonder about the fit after the sale? How do you get your eyeglasses adjusted? I haven’t had glasses for a few years (after gettting lasik), but when I did get glasses I had to have them adjusted the first time b/c of sores on the nose or behind the ears due to having a fat head I presume. But really, how often do your glasses fit perfectly when you first get them?

  11. Take them in to get adjusted if they need to be. Pay a few bucks or buy some microfiber cloths or a screwdriver kit to make it worth the shop’s time.

    The key I’ve found is nailing the measurements (in my case temple length). I’ve not needed to do much more than a few minor tweaks on my own. The last three pair I purchased fit better out of their packages than the $400 pairs I had “professionally” fitted (by someone working at 7-11 a few weeks earlier, no doubt).

    It ain’t rocket surgery. ;-)

  12. Purchased from Eyeglassdirect.com on April 3, 2007.
    Now May12, 2007
    Nice fit and frame, prescritption seemed right on
    but
    eyelasses had defective left lens.
    Owner agreed to send replacement pair.
    Still waiting.
    No answer to email inquiries concerning eta replacement pair.
    Will I ever get them?

  13. People may want to review this experience before ordering from eyeglassdirect.com: link

  14. I ended up following links on the review sites to zennioptical and was happy with the pair I received from them.

  15. I am a big proponent of buying eyeglasses online, but eyeglassdirect.com just sucks. I would recommend optical4less.com based on personal experience and would STRONGLY recommend against eyeglassdirect.com based on personal experience.
    Here are some links if you want to read more:

    http://groups.google.com/group.....ass-direct

    http://groups.google.com/group.....tical4less

  16. Bill Gaston says:

    I order a set of progressive glasses from EyeglassDirect which was totally out of focus. I called and e-mailed them that I thought they were incorrectly made and was asked to mail them back, my expense. I also ask that if their lab determined they were incorrectly made that I wanted my money back. They said if they were correctly issued the first time I could not get a refund. After mailing and waiting two-weeks I finally had to call to see what the status was and they simply said a new set had been mailed. I received them and even though they still are not correct, I decided to forgo the hassle of arguing with them and that I had learned my lesson about internet orders.

  17. @Bill,

    I wish you’d have read the GlassyEyes forums before ordering…

    http://groups.google.com/group.....ass-direct

    They don’t all behave like this.

  18. 2 years ago I bought a pair of glasses from eyebuydirect.com for $30 including frames, lenses, anti-scratch coating, and shipping. Just a few months ago, my prescription had changed, so I needed new ones. I used this site again. I’ve had no problems at all with this site. Now, they’ve added on their site a virtual eyeglasses try-on, where you upload your picture and they put the glasses on the picture. They have pretty cool frames for cheap prices, but they also offer the expensive designer frames. Luckily, mine fit both times perfectly the first time, so I have no experience with what to do if they’re not right. But I’ve recommended this site to all my family and friends who needed glasses, and they’ve all had good experiences.

  19. cartier glasses says:

    March 12th, 2007 at 5:54 am
    Take them in to get adjusted if they need to be. Pay a few bucks or buy some microfiber cloths or a screwdriver kit to make it worth the shop’s time.

  20. Paul Laufer says:

    I just ordered my first and last pair of glasses from these shysters. It’s a pair of “single lens, computer only” glasses, and they are horrible. When I tilt my head down and look through the tops of the glasses I see fine, and when I tilt my head up and look through the bottom, again it’s fine, but the entire zone around the middle is horribly fuzzy. After speaking to the guy on the phone (the same one that does their voicemail system) he said I can pay to send them back and if they feel that they’ve made them to my prescription, too bad for me. I said that my only other option would be to do what I could on the web to make sure others know about their crappy ways. He told me go ahead and do my worst and hung up in my face.

  21. EYEGLASSDIRECT IS THE WORST COMPANY TO DEAL WITH. tHEY TAKE A WHOLE MONTH TO GIVE YOU AN ORDER! THE SALES PEOPLE ARE FOOLISH AND RUDE. EVERYDAY I ENQUIRE ABOUT WHERE ARE MY GLASSES THEY SAID, ITS ON THE WAY ITS ON THE WAY. ONE TIME I WAS TOLD THE OPTOMETRIST IS ON VACATION!! WHAT A DUMB EXCUSE. EVERY EXCUSE WAS GIVEN WITHOUT APOLOGY AND WITH AGRESSION. STAY FAR WAY FROM THIS STORE IF YOU DONT LIKE TROUBLE.

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