Ordering Contact Lenses Online: Five Tips for Contact Lens Wearers
Contact Lenses are Growing Ever More Popular. More than 40 million Americans wear contact lenses. If you are a contact lens wearer who is interested in saving money by purchasing contact lenses online, you should read this article.
Not all online contact lens retailers can offer a level of service and professionalism that today’s savvy online shoppers have grown to expect. By following the five tips outlined in this article, online contact lens buyers can reasonably expect to order contact lenses from a “reputable online contact lens retailer” and to be able to get the contact lenses that were prescribed by their eyecare professional without any hassles while saving money.
Ordering Contact Lenses Online Tip #1: Be Prepared. Have your contact lens Rx (prescription), as well as your eyecare provider’s phone and fax numbers in hand when you are ready to order. A reputable online contact lens retailer complies with the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act. This means a reputable online seller of contact lenses must actively try to verify your contact lens prescription with your prescribing eyecare provider before they fulfill your order.
Prescription verification is in everyone’s best interest! If you are dealing with an online contact lens retailer that is not asking for eyecare provider contact information or a copy of your valid prescription, you are dealing with a business that is operating outside federal law. If they don’t care about federal laws, you can count on them not caring about you, your contact lenses or fixing any problems you may have with your order.
Ordering Contact Lenses Online Tip #2: Be Frugal But Don’t Be Cheap. If saving money is important, looking for contact lenses online will almost assure you of lower per-box prices. But if ordering contact lenses online when you know your contact lens prescription is expired is your way of cheaping out of getting your annual eye exam, please reconsider.
The American Optometric Association recommends an annual eye exam for any adult who wears eyeglasses or contact lenses. The purpose of an annual exam is to make sure your eyes remain healthy and to update any changes in your contact lens prescription. As a contact lens wearer, you are putting your eyes and your vision at undue risk by skipping your annual exam.
Ordering Contact Lenses Online Tip #3: Be a Smart Shopper – Read the Fine Print. If you’ve shopped for contact lenses online, you’ve undoubtedly seen many sponsored ads touting “Free Shipping,” “Lowest Price Guarantee,” and “As Low As” per-box pricing. Don’t believe everything you see online! Is “Free Shipping” really free shipping if you have to purchase contact lenses totaling $99 or more? Make sure “Free Shipping” really means “Free Shipping” on all orders regardless of volume. Adding $5 to $10 in shipping charges on a smaller order significantly increases your unit cost – keep that in mind when comparing retailers’ prices.
Other clever marketing tricks to beware of include a lowest price guarantee. The fine print for these are often located somewhere obscure and have very difficult-to-meet requirements, or they are offset by hidden “handling charges” or other “fees.” This is a popular trick that several contact lens retailers are now using on unsuspecting consumers. Be a responsible consumer. Make sure you are getting the unit price you expected to be getting (many times advertised prices are based on an 8 or more box purchase and includes the value of some “mail-in” rebate you may or may not see or qualify for) and all the numbers add up (line item subtotals, subtotal, shipping, handling, taxes and total) before you submit your order.
Ordering Contact Lenses Online Tip #4: Conduct Reasonable Due Diligence. You wouldn’t give your credit card and personal information to just any street vendor, so don’t think all online contact lens retailers are legitimate. How can you tell if someone who is selling contact lenses online is legit? A good place to start is to check the company against the Better Business Bureau online database (http://search.bbb.org/). However, no BBB file should not signal an all-OK.
Does the company have a valid SSL certificate? Can you easily find the company’s contact information (including actual physical mailing address)? Can you review the company’s formal terms, conditions and policies (privacy, shipping, returns)? How long has the company been in business? (Two years is a good minimum standard for online sellers of contact lenses – it is a tough business and less-than-reputable companies usually don’t last that long.) You should be comfortable that the company you plan to do business with meets these minimum standards.
Ordering Contact Lenses Online Tip #5: Call the Company. This may sound like it defeats the purpose of shopping online, but it is actually a fairly quick and easy way to gauge the level of customer service you can expect. Look for a company that allows you to actually speak to a live human being. If you cannot get connected to a live person, leave a message to see how long it takes for someone to respond back to your request. A “reasonable” time to give a reputable online contact lens retailer is one business day to respond. Be sure to leave a number where a message can be left if you are unavailable. Businesses that are selling contact lenses online that are either “too busy,” “too understaffed,” or simply don’t care enough about customer service to return a customer call will probably not be very responsive when you are trying to fix a problem. Businesses that don’t invest in customer care tend to be “here today, gone tomorrow.”
If you keep these five tips for ordering contact lenses online in mind, you should be able to avoid the pitfalls and less-than-favorable experiences that some fellow online contact lens shoppers have encountered. While I cannot make any guarantees, following these five tips will improve your chances for a safe, secure and reliable online contact lens transaction. Happy shopping!