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Research Before You Buy



This one tip can save so much time, money, and frustration.  In fact, yesterday I saved $150 for an hour of calling around, plus time and gas!


You see, three of our children need new glasses.  This is, of course, expensive, so Saturday we drove down to an inexpensive place, Store A, with a great back-to-school special, two pairs of children’s glasses for $99, up to age 12.  Did this work out?  No, because it wasn’t the child’s chronological age that counted, but whether or not a certain selection of children’s frames fit her.  These were all way too small, and we wasted a lot of time (and gas) driving down to this place.       


Next Step


As well, we got a flyer from Store B with a great special, two pairs of glasses (adult) with single vision lenses for $99.  Wow!  And, even better, looking in the yellow pages, I found an ad for complete glasses for only $29.99 a pair from Store C.  Double wow!  Did we hop right in the car?  No, because Saturday’s experience taught me, once again, to phone first.


So I called.  The 2 for $99 place (Store B) sounded good, but I knew enough to ask about scratch protection coating on the plastic lenses.  That would add $20 a pair, which was very reasonable.  Then I mentioned one child’s prescription.  Oho!  That prescription would involve polycarbonate lenses, which are much more expensive than the kind in the advertised special.  Since another child’s prescription was every bit as bad, I decided this probably was not going to be the place for us.


Instead, I decided to call the $29 a pair place (Store C).  It sounded too good to be true, but the salesperson claimed there were 500 pairs of frames available for this price, and the scratch protection coating was only $40 extra.  Three pairs of glasses at $69 each still seemed very reasonable.  Too reasonable.  So I checked the Better Business Bureau, which had no data on this store.  Good sign.  Then I checked the internet, and read some nasty opinions:  second-hand frames, hidden costs, poor service.  So I called back.  No, the frames were all new, but many were not the latest styles.  When pressed, the salesperson estimated that 25-50% of the frames were moderately in style but many were the older, large kind.  When we talked about the kinds of lens plastic, he told me that ordinary plastic would do for our children’s prescriptions.  Our optometrist had mentioned special plastic, however.  Hmm.   I had visions of us driving all that way to choose frames, spending the modest sum, driving all that way again  to pick up glasses with unsuitable lenses, not having our complaints taken seriously, and needing to buy other glasses elsewhere after all, thus wasting a lot of both money and time.  No, not for us.


So, once again, I called the 2 adult pairs for $99 place (Store B) determined to get a serious quote.  Sounding very business-like, and using all the correct terminology (learned from previous calls), I gave them two prescriptions and asked for a quote.  Using the 2 pairs for $99 discount, but adding in special lenses, special grinding of one lens, and anti scratch coating we came to a total of $437 for the two pairs of glasses!  And we needed a third pair as well, which would be at least another $100.  My husband, who’d had a very bad experience at this place, said, “Uh huh.”


I tried two other very reputable places.  No hidden costs there, and perfect service guaranteed… but the total cost would be around $900 for the three pairs of glasses.  Ouch!


And finally I thought of our optometrist’s posh collection of eyewear.  It had always seemed too expensive even to consider.  But…the office had the prescriptions on file and gave us firm quotes on the lenses. We trusted them enough to ask about putting new lenses into our two old frames.  The happy ending:  for under $400, we will soon be able to pick up three pairs of glasses for our children. 


My total time on the phone and internet was about an hour.  Since our savings on the glasses (compared to Store B, the cheapest reputable option) were about $150, I was saving at the rate of $150 an hour!  Factoring in gas and driving time makes that number even higher.  On top of that, the children were happily playing and puttering at home while I was busy, rather than sitting in the car or traipsing from store to store.


Now, usually the products I’m researching are not quite so expensive, but even so, I usually save significant amounts of time, money, and frustration.  It works for us.


Note to US readers:  Prices in Canada are usually higher than in the US.  Your prices for glasses would likely be lower, but the principle is the same for anything you need to purchase. 


This post is entered in Being Frugal’s Tightwad Tuesday and in We Are THAT Family’s Works for Me Wednesday.


  1. proverbsmama says:

    Very neat story! Yes, it does pay to look around.

    I had an eye appt. Friday, but canceled because dd was sick. (She had an appt. too.) DD's will be covered under her insurance. I have no insurance. I hope this doctor didn't feed me a line when he told me his place was about 1/2 the cost for glasses as Walmart. I had a bad experience at Walmart and will never go there for glasses again.

  2. jenn4him says:

    You did a great job! I will keep this in mind for future purchases. I, too, always assume that the eye doctor's prices are way too expensive. I am glad it all worked out.


  3. solidrock says:

    Been there..done this…very true all of it!!!! We too ended up back at our eye doctors office for glasses. Still expensive knowing it was the right plastic ( special for specific vison problem) and that I could walk to his office.

  4. AnnieKate says:

    Well, we picked up one pair yesterday and we're planning to pick up the other two today. Hopefully these glasses will last a long, long time!

    Annie Kate

  5. LarabaK says:

    VERY sensible. My husband is also an internet bargain hunter and does a great job of finding good deals online. I find getting out with the kids to be so tough that we usually try internet searches first, but that doesn't work with special prescription glasses. I have actually purchased cheap glasses from an online retailer. They were very cheap (under $50) and worked fairly well, but the distance between my eyes was hard to measure so I didn't get that quite right. My latest pair I got from Sam's Club, which is affiliated with Wal-Mart. Good glasses, but again my prescription is low.

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