BA on Assignment

November 17, 2011

America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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I needed to get new glasses. Or so I thought. It had been almost 10 years since my last eye exam, so, it was at least time for that. So, I started out on my quest to find just the right pair of frames. Had no idea that picking frames would be like buying a car and since we know how long that takes me…

I’ve been asked, “Why don’t you just wear contacts?” Not happening. My goal is to keep things out of my eyes, not put things in there. Besides, I don’t wear the glasses unless I’m reading, using a computer or my eyes just get tired. This shouldn’t have taken much time, but, it did.

I found a pair of frames I liked online, ordered them and a few days later, was told they were discontinued. So I decided to take a day and just go to all of the in-network retailers covered by my insurance. Not fun. As an uber-consumer, I know that retailers follow trends, but, this exercise has truly confirmed that. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING looked the same. Small, rectangular, really squared-off and I like circles and ovals.

Then there’s the issue of price. The high-end stores have more variety, but, they’re hundreds of dollars above what insurance will cover; The middle-of-the-road stores are so average and blahhh and the low-end stores sell the most hideous frames. What to do, what to do… I’ll tell you what I did – I decided to go to lunch.

On my way to lunch, I came across 2 stores: A My Eye Dr. franchise and America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. My Eye Dr. had several frames that I liked, but, they were crazy expensive. But more than that, there was a client in the shop screaming bloody murder about how they’d screwed up his glasses AND over-charged him, etc., etc. Bad service issues – I can take a hint.

Then, I passed America’s Best. Yes, I passed the store, stopped, then doubled back thinking, “I’ll pop in quickly just to confirm my suspicions.” I WAS WRONG. While their 2 pairs deal is exactly what you think it is – no selection, no options and tons of restrictions, the rest of the experience was great. I suspected that it would be like the dollar store of eyewear – cheap, tacky and unprofessional. I WAS WRONG.

Not only did I find the only pair of frames in the store that were perfect for me, they were just like the one’s I liked at My Eye Dr. for 1/5 the cost. But, more importantly, the personnel at America’s Best were fantastic. The service I got was excellent.

Of course, the journalist in me had to ask A LOT of questions and they didn’t flinch. They answered all of my questions, didn’t get frustrated or exasperated and even gave me a little bit of time to consider. And it wasn’t just a one-time thing – on all three of my visits, they were equally as accommodating.

Of note: On one of my visits, their district manager was visiting, so, I could tell everyone was a bit nervous, And while he seemed to be a nice enough young guy, he was a displaced Brooklynite which means, he was a bit intense in the way he was attempting to train the personnel. My thought was that they really didn’t need that level of intensity, it seemed to be overkill.

One of the reasons it took me so long to go through this process again is because my last eye exam was at Lens Crafters and it wasn’t a good experience. The exam was done incorrectly which meant the lenses were made incorrectly and the personnel reacted to their mistakes with defensiveness. Cheap, tacky and unprofessional. Lens Crafters could learn a lot about service from America’s Best. I would have thought the opposite.

So, the eye exam was my biggest worry. Picking the frames and dealing with the insurance was nothing, but, the eye exam… Luckily, the doctor – a young guy – was very thorough and even pointed out something that could potentially be of concern down the road for me to have checked by a specialist. A+ all around.

And 10 days later (or less), I have my new glasses, I get to keep wearing my old glasses because the prescription didn’t change much and I’m all happy.

So, obviously the moral of this story is don’t judge a book by its cover; Put your glasses on and read the damn thing first!