Tuesday, February 28, 2006 ______________________________________________________________________________

I Want That in Writing 

My glasses have been bothering me for a while. Objects in the distance are ridiculously hard to focus on. Damn, objects not in the distance require a certain amount of strain in and of themselves. Since my last pair of glasses were more than two years old (meaning I can put another pair on Jim's health plan), I decided to get a new pair of glasses. For its proximity and the plesant demeanour of the lady who answers their phone, I chose to go to Image Optical in Park Royal Shopping Centre.

While I'm in the optometrist's getting my eyes checked, he asks me if anyone has ever told me that I need prisms. As in whether I have eyes that are either poorly coordinated or that do not point straight ahead. I thought it was a lead in into a really bad pick up line but the reason he asked was because my glasses were configured for someone whose right eye turned inward and whose left eye turned outward - an unusual combination in and of itself (strabismus typically occurs in one eye and only sometimes in both), a combination made more unusual by the fact that it didn't look like I had any form of strabismus (otherwise known as lazy eye - think about the last person you saw with lazy eye. It was damn obvious, wasn't it?). He then proceeded to ask for my previous records, called the last optometrist I saw and then started doing his thang.

After he concludes that I don't need prisms, the assistant knocks on the door with the results from my last optometrist - who didn't prescribe prisms for me. Turns out that Lenscrafters in Metrotown screwed up when they made my glasses. Apparently this happens often with Lenscrafters. You see, they have this deal where you can get your glasses in 1hr, but they don't always have the lenses required, but instead of ordering them in and telling you that you have to wait a week for your glasses they just make it with the next best thing. My optometrist thinks that's what happened to me. How does he know? He used to work for Lenscrafters.

So my current optometrist says:

"Look, I would love to sell you a pair of glasses. But let's face it, Lenscrafters messed up on this one and if you call them, you're likely to have that mistake corrected. You can't just go in there and tell them they've made a mistake though, because as a business, they have to protect their interests, and you have been wearing these glasses for over two years. What you should do is give your last optometrist a call. Since he works for Lenscrafters, he should know how they work. Ask the optometrist to comfirm that your glasses are prismed in a way that they were not prescribed and help you approach the store."

Good advice. So I call the office of my last optometrist. The doctor who saw me last is on vacation until March 22nd but another doctor offered to talk to me. After explaining my situation, he told me that this was between me and Lenscrafters and that he would not take a look at my glasses because the onsite technicians at Lenscrafters could do it for me. (Just for reference, the Lenscrafter's optometrists' office is right next to the retail store, so it's not like I was asking him to go very far.) He also said that if the people at the store do find something wrong with my glasses, they would replace it with my new prescription, free of charge.

So from West Vancouver, I make my way to Burnaby to talk to someone at Lenscrafters. I called the store ahead of time and they assured me that if they found something wrong with the lenses I would get them replaced free of charge. Just to give you some idea of the distance between the malls located in West Van and Burnaby respectively, here is a map:

Lenscrafters claims that there was no prisming.

One person's word against another's. Let's face it, I'm more inclined to believe the guys in West Van because I was all ready to buy a pair of glasses from them but yet they sent me to Burnaby, potentially giving Lenscrafters business (I would have to buy a set of frames from Lenscrafters). So I went back to West Van (in case you're wondering why I didn't just leave it and pick this up another day: my vision was really driving me crazy. I needed to be able to see and I needed to see NOW) where the guys checked my glasses again to see if they could possibly have made a mistake. According to them, no mistake. Exact same values they read the first time, the same values I repeated to the Lenscrafters "optician". I also told them what she told me when I recited the numbers to her.

"You see, because one eye is turned in and the other out, essentially they are pointing in the same direction, so you are fine - if there is prisming in your glasses, which there isn't."

The West Van guy's jaw drops. If yours hasn't by now just think about that statement for a little while. In essence, it means that it's alright for them to alter the alignment of your eyes as long as they are being misaligned in the same direction. Great.

So the guys in West Van cut me some slack and gave me an impossibly good deal - the details of which I won't post here, because it was an insane deal and I don't want them to be peppered with pestering people for it. The new glasses, with titanium frame and all, should be ready by this weekend.

While I'm glad that the people in Image Optical were so great, I'm really upset that I have to approach buying glasses as you would have to approach buying a used car off a second hand car lot. I mean these are frigging glasses man! I don't need to have an optometrist's knowledge to be able to trust that I'm not getting ripped off. Oh well. Better Business Bureau here I come.

posted by Joie! at 6:23 p.m.


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