The Great Online Shopping Debate: Chapter 4

Girl With Tear, Lichenstein 1977

The Online RX debate continues on: This top post is a new one for me.  So funny.. Just an update from the forums, what do you think?

This was a first for me today…..a girl comes out after her exam and has no interest looking at frames because she’s going to buy them online…fine….that’s not the first. This is, she asks me if her glasses “come back incorrect will I refund her.” Confused by her question (since she made it clear she wasn’t ordering from us) I ask her to repeat it. She was asking if WE would refund the money she spends on glasses that she purchases ONLINE given she’s Unsatisfied with them. Since “we provided the rx.”

So I asked her if she would refund me for the dress I bought from Macy’s last week that’s too small? (Really I didn’t) but she was asking because she’s ordered online before and has been unhappy with them…I told her that’s part of the risk of purchasing online. I absolutely wouldn’t refund the money she spends on her glasses from anywhere else, but as a courtesy I would check them out when she gets them and give her my honest feedback on lenses, fit, ect…..have any of you ever heard of such a question?!

People who shop your optical for a frame to buy online? Ask staff to write down model number etc. What are your policies about this? Mine : we write it down and HOLD it behind the front desk, if they return we can pull it and help them find the frames again.

Charge for the service. Showrooming has a cost. Btw, don’t hold the frame, they will never order it from you.

Create a file for them in your system. Keep the frame on the board. Charge a fee for consultation.

We enter it into EHR

Hold it means hold the card we wrote it on, not the actual frame. Sorry

We alter all model numbers for our practice so they won’t find it online.

We put all the info including cost of materials under notes after we create an electronic file. We have never charged for that or said we cannot give it out. We just simple say we will save it for you as a reference and smile… so far nobody has been insistent or upset.

If someone flat out ask we tell them know. I did have a little old lady writing down frame name, color, eyesize, and price. I have a hard time being rude to little old ladies. If she was in her thirties I would have asked what they are doing. Another great reason to carry independent frames.

When a patient is having a problem with spectacles they purchased outside of our office, we hand them this form to bring back to their optician to complete and return to us before we book them for a no charge recheck.

Interesting. What do you do if its a compensated rx with 20degrees of wrap with a backside lenticular cut? Not much is going to make sense in your comparing old to new. Yes, backside lenticular cuts are a common thing in my office.

that would be helpful. Does it make any patients angry? Do you mention it when they want to take their prescription out?

Our staff pleasantly explains that the doctor needs more information from the optical store where they purchased their glasses so that during the recheck examination he/she will be able to figure out where the problem lies. While the patient is not always thrilled about the extra visit back and forth, they do understand it once it is properly explained. It does highlight for the patient the inconvenience of fragmenting their eye care between two locations … a decision they chose to make. Kevin, if the staff at the optical store completes the form and shows that the patient was switched from a compensated Rx to one that is not, or from a flat face form to a wrapped one (or vice versa), the information will actually be very useful in troubleshooting the patient’s complaints.

It fortunately isn’t often but I am very straight with them. I tell them there’s nothing I can do to stop them from browsing, collecting model numbers, then buying elsewhere. But it’s totally unrealistic for them to expect me to assist them in making a purchase elsewhere, by going out of my way to collect and neatly package the information they need to do so. They get it.

Just tell them that you’ll write the info in their file. If they don’t have one, make one and ask for their phone number and email address. If they persist then tell them that you provide a very important service and you have a policy to not give out frame information. Simple guys.

Sticky label over model numbers. We remove when sold.

We tell them we will put it in our computer for them. ( and try to get it out of their hands before they can copy. BUT I recently read the following. I am implementing this, just trying to be more subtle. Here it is: frame selection (no copying of frame information, sorry), styling, measurement (pd, seg height, measurements for digital lenses, etc.), verification, adjustment, and repair are all optical services that are included in the price of our glasses. We do not provide any of these services for glasses we do not sell. Whoever sells the glasses should provide these services, but if they don’t or can’t, we don’t do their work for them. If you give them the PD, why not give them your optician’s time so they can find a great frame and then just write that down for them as well? We have just decided to take a very firm stance. Every service has a value and a cost associated with it

I love it. It gets the message across about the value of all the “little” but important things we do, and also says, “Hey, don’t expect me to do all these things for free”. There is a reason (ok, multiple reasons) that the internet crap is so cheap. The consumer’s taking on all risk that the specs won’t be as advertised, won’t fit right, won’t have the correct Rx, will never get adjusted for their face… I could go on.

At this point I have just had my opticians tell the patients, easier for me than them. I am the manager, with over 40 yrs optical experience. They haven’t been in the fired as long and are younger, they get more intimidated,

I don’t think you need a big sign posted unless it’s an every day occurrence. Maybe have copies of the policy on slips of paper you can have them hand out when it’s noticed. A big sign could possibly seem adversarial in the eyes of your more loyal patients. Anything I post or hand out I would go over with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it 100% represents my feeling on the matter and is 100% free of errors, since this is something guaranteed to get shared, either on paper or social media.

how exactly do you alter model numbers? With a dremel? How does that work with returns?

Your optical software can do that. Your tag would have a stock number, not the sku or name of the frame.

Couldn’t a semi-savvy shopper just move the tag aside to see what is permanently imprinted on the temple? (edited for typo)

I tell my opticians, our best defense is excellent customer service! We really attempt to assist each and every patient through the entire process. Standing with them, building that relationship, making recommendations …. And keeping them from being ” savvy”

yes, I totally agree. Thinking I may just have a copy at each dispensing desk laminated and in the drawer for the few that REALLY give us a tough time. Seems it is happening more frequently. Then it could just be pulled out and put away.

Not sure what you’re referring to as desperation,  I know if I go into the Ford dealership down the pike and take up the sales staff’s time going over needs, wants, options and recommendations, then ask for the specific SKU of that package so I can go low-ball someone else for that exact package, I’d be dead before I turned fully around to run for my life. 

What if I went to “the best orthopedic surgeon in town” and asked all about “the best hip replacement implant”, then asked him/her to write it down so my buddy the last-in-his-class orthopedic surgeon can do it for less (Oh, and I need the size indicated also..)? Orthopedic surgeon #1 would have at least gotten a consult fee out of it – that’s more than these opticians we’re talking about.

I have nothing against someone understanding the process and becoming savvy. I think that the more they understand about what we do, the more value is apparent. If we don’t all believe in that we’re dead before long anyway.

Agree 100% on customer service. Approaching a ‘browser’ and offering to help. We have to remember that many of these people have never had service like that and may prefer to “shoo” the staff.

I recall in my hometown, I would go into a shoe/athletic store called the Foot Locker. The sales people would attack you within seconds, but were never of any help if you had questions or asked them to look for a different color or size. That’s annoying as hell. 

When someone can ask an icebreaker question or two and probe a little as to what they’re looking for, *AND help them get there faster than they could on their own* – well that’s why we brick-and-mortar independents still have a prayer. That’s value-added. That cannot be touched by online specs and in my experience is rarely touched by a big box.

 Personal anecdote from today… I had 2 patients dilating and an unexpected few minutes free. Rather than check e-mail I decided to wander into optical and greeted a lady who was ‘browsing’ and she commented that it’s hard to pick from hundreds of choices. I told her about a TED talk I had heard recently about how lots of choices are normally associated with freedom, but in reality it can be somewhat paralyzing. She replied that she had no idea what a TED talk was but that a friend of hers had written a book on “The Paradox of Choice”. I googled it and it turns out her author friend, Barry Schwartz, was the guy who gave the TED talk! Small world when people randomly meet who are talking about the same thing but don’t realize it at first! Let’s just say we made a connection this time.

Yes, we chat with them…. Keep it light, ask open ended questions. Very rarely does someone ask us to allow them to just look, as you said,Mathis is usually a different experience for them. Those that just want to look may, BUT we keep a close eye and drop in from time to time seeing how they are making out. Finding ” a brand new frame that just came in they may like”. Often those lookie Lou’s are shoplifters.

 Our frames have stickers that cover the model numbers and we use a system we came up with to change the model number for our records. ie, change a model CT 750 to AR a7501….

 I like the idea of covering up the models with stickers and even making the codes different for in office knowledge. I bet thats very effective. I would actually laugh if I saw someone write something down that I knew was false in some way