Thursday, January 3, 2013

Another Glasses Review:

You may have noticed that I have been wearing glasses with some frequency over the last month or so.  (See, e.g., here, here, here, and here.)   While I have always worn prescription lenses, I have generally opted for contacts. Then at my annual eye exam last month, my optometrist told me that not only had my vision gotten worse, but I also had a scratched retina that would require me to wear glasses until it healed.

In the last few weeks weeks, I have rediscovered how fun it is to have a variety of frames to chose from each morning. Although I previously thought of glasses only as a necessity, I was reminded that they also function very effectively as accessories---changing an outfit, a look, a face, with hardly any effort.

Left to right: Tory Burch, Firmoo (not c/o...updated review pending) and GlassesUSA (c/o)

That's why I was so excited when contacted me about trying out a pair of their glasses in exchange for my thoughts on their service (and for a few links in this entry, which you'll find randomly below).

GlassesUSA provided me with a modest giftcard, which I then used to pick out prescription frames of my choice. I appreciated that the review process involved going through the regular ordering system, as it allowed me to gauge the customer experience. (You may remember from my Firmoo review that I was not able to judge shipping time since I placed my order through a marketing person.)

So, here are my thoughts.

1. The Glasses Selection Process:
I was impressed with GlassesUSA's selection of frames. They have options ranging from low-end (~$40) frames to designer glasses by famous names ($150+). I loved the search filters available, which allowed you to narrow your results to frame size, shape, color, gender, and style.

They also have this fun Virtual Optician feature that allows you to take a quiz to determine your "Frame Personality":

In my dreams...

Although I don't especially like the eyeglasses associated with my assessed personality, it was still fun to take the quiz!

Incidentally, the first time I took this quiz, my result was "the Fashionista."  Just FYI.

I settled on these frames, which --- full disclosure --- I found after clicking the "Vintage/Nerdy" glasses subcategory. I KNOW I KNOW I AM ALL TEH STEREOTYPEZ.

I have no idea why these are marked $150.00 $69.00.  Is this a brand anyone has heard of?  Seeing nebulous discounts off of the "MSRP" makes me skeptical.

As you can see, the prescription glasses were $69 and it was an extra $19 for optometrist-recommended UV coating and anti-glare protection.

There are sunglass options, too, including Transitions lenses, although I thought those were cost-prohibitive at $100+.

2. The Ordering Process
Checkout was straightforward, however I was annoyed by the way GlassesUSA utilizes promo codes. Although their website advertises "free shipping both ways" at the top, in actuality you can only get free shipping with the use of a promo code. For most situations, this would not be a problem because you would simply enter a promo code at checkout (GlassesUSA seems to offer frequent promo codes with %-off and free shipping).

However, GlassesUSA's system allows you to enter only one promo code per purchase, and gift cards are counted as promo codes. So, if you get someone a GlassesUSA gift card, they will not be able to take advantage of free shipping or any of the advertised discounts. Furthermore, if one section of the website offers you a special promo, for example this one... then forfeit the 50% off promo code currently available on the GlassesUSA homepage.

This is super-annoying. It would be an easy fix to allow the entry of multiple promo codes, or at the very least to categorize a gift certificate differently than a coupon code, but as of my purchase this fix had not been made.

3. Delivery
I placed my order on December 13, 2012 and my glasses arrived at my office exactly one week later.

They came with a cushy case and a handy lens-cleaning cloth.

The glasses appeared true to the description on the website. The quality was good and the plastic felt substantial.  The prescription was also very comfortable on my eyes. I don't know my pupillary distance, but the default setting of 63 worked well for me. (Note: I think it's very important that you get this number. I ordered other glasses with a lower setting from a different website and they strain my eyes more than these do.)

4. Use and Abuse
After a few weeks of wearing these guys, I'm a fan!

At the San Diego Zoo, wearing Reece Jakob 6003 Brown c/o GlassesUSA.

I have dropped them a bunch of times and they don't seem to have scratched. The lenses get dirty pretty quickly, but perhaps that comes with the territory when you're wearing big catch-all frames?

Because I liked the glasses, I didn't have a chance to test GlassesUSA's claim that you can return any pair you don't like for free.

5. Overall Conclusion
GlassesUSA offers a good selection of glasses at an "okay" price. Without discounts, their prices and frame options are comparable to what you might find at a brick & mortar eyeglass store in your neighborhood, but without the advantage of trying frames on your actual head. (Note: there IS a virtual try-on feature.) The purchase makes sense where you can use a 50% or 75%-off coupon with free shipping, which would allow you to find a bunch of nice frames under $30.

My final purchase for frames, lenses (with the $19 add-on for anti-glare and UV coating), and shipping cost $83 (which was covered by the GlassesUSA gift certificate). If that money had been coming out of my own pocket, I would have preferred to try glasses on in a store for one of those "buy two Rx frames + lenses for $100" deals eyeglasses stores sometimes offer.

However, to the extent that you can use discounts to get your frames + lenses to under $30 or $40, it seems worth the cost to buy glasses here (as long as you can get free shipping, which I didn't, and free returns, which I didn't test).

I hope this was helpful! Thanks to GlassesUSA for providing a gift certificate to the site, which made this frames/lenses purchase and subsequent review possible. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

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