America’s Best Makes Four-Eyes See A Blurry Kind of Red

With our retinas conjoined by the royal ‘Consumerist’ we, Ben and I from a grotesque octo-occulus. That is to say: we’re both four-eyes…es. But while Ben dashes off to network interviews clad in dashing Gucci frames, my glasses have two different ear pieces and sit crookedly upon my face. One ear piece is superglued to the joint; the other floppily waggles back and forth on the left side of my cranium. A mere nod sends them rocketing off of my face at high velocity to maim innocent by-standers around me.

So my heart reached out to Melinda when she wrote us, telling us about America’s Best glasses store. When one of the springs in her Tommy Hilfiger spectacles burst, America’s Best told her that the only way to fix them without replacing them was to Superglue the earpiece in place. More astonishingly, this advice was reiterated on a corporate level.

Poor Melinda. You’re right: don’t Superglue them. If you do that, you might as well just wrap duct tape around the nose bridge and be done with it. Her email, after the jump. Read it, because she wants repair advice from you DIYers.

This is actually a complaint about service at America’s Best eyeglasses stores — you know, the place with the “two-pair-for-$69.99″ gimmick. I bought two pairs of glasses there in spring of 2005, and paid more than just the $69.99, since I selected slightly more expensive frames, and my prescription is strong enough to require lightweight lenses. I bought one pair of Tommy Hilfiger semi-rimless glasses, as well as a more generic pair with lightly amber-tinted lenses. I was mostly happy with my purchases, until recently. A week ago, one of the springs on my Hilfiger frames gave out, leaving me with a floppy glasses arm. They don’t sit straight on my face because the tension is gone, and it feels like the arm is going to fall off at any moment.

I went to my local America’s Best to see if they could fix them. The tech I dealt with tightened the screw a little bit, which helped a little bit. Then she helpfully suggested I buy some Super Glue, apply it to the temple, and never close the arm.

I headed for the company’s website, http://www.twopair.com, and used their customer service form to ask if that was the only solution. This is what I sent:

I visited my local America’s Best, from which I had purchased glasses in April 2005, to see if I could get the spring temple in my glasses fixed. The spring seemed to have given out, and the arm of the glasses was “floppy” and didn’t stay in place correctly, though it hadn’t fallen off. The tech who I spoke to about it tightened the screw, but stated that she couldn’t do anything further for me. What’s more, she suggested that I buy some Super Glue to apply to the temple, and just never close the arm. If I were closer to my bi-annual exam date, when I’d be replacing the frames anyway, I wouldn’t be worried about the frames so much; however, I have a pretty strong prescription, and I can’t do much without my glasses. My second pair was a pair of prescription sunglasses, which can only sub for my regular glasses under certain conditions, lest I look ridiculous, so they’re not of much help right now. So is Super Glue the best that can be done? If they don’t have the means in-store to repair the frames, is there a place that I can send them out to? Any non-Super Glue suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

I got an e-mail response within the day, so they get points for speed. They wrote:

This email is in response to your complaint on the **********, ** vision center. I do apologize for the lack of assistance with your glasses. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lab on site therefore when frames are broken we just order a new frame. Our stores are not allowed to order parts and keep them in stock. I would not recommend applying Super Glue to your frames. You may consider contacting the store manager and see if he is willing to offer you a discount on a new frame. Feel free to contact me if you should need any further assistance.

Maybe I’m just expecting too much from any eyeglass store, but I was kind of hoping they’d have a better suggestion than, “Tough shit, buy a new frame,” or, “How ’bout Super Glue?” I’m not really that hard on my glasses. I don’t fall asleep or play contact sports while wearing them. I was really hoping they’d make more of an effort to fix my existing frames, which simply wore out as a result of normal wear and tear, especially since I can’t really afford to replace the frames at even a discounted price right now. Don’t most places try a little harder to fix glasses? Should I lower my expectations because I went through a cheapy-cheap discount place?

Does anyone at the Consumerist or in the readership have a suggestion for me? Making like Corey Hart and wearing my sunglasses at night as a substitute has gotten really old, really fast.

Comments

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  1. Hawkins says:

    Sorry not to be more sympathetic, but what do you expect for $35? They’ve lasted more than a year.

    I also don’t understand what’s wrong with the Super Glue suggestion. OK, they won’t close any more… but given the situation, it sounds like a reasonable approach, provided by a sympathetic tech who has limited options.

  2. aka Cat says:

    Once those springs break, you’re pretty much sunk. To repair them correctly, first you’ll have to get the manufacturer to cough up a replacement spring. Then you’ll have to find a watch maker with a sense of adventure to do the repair.

    Or, if you’re really careful, you might manage to superglue the ear-piece into the right position.

    I managed to get about eight month’s use out of mine, before my not-so-perfect superglue job drove me batty.

  3. robyns says:

    Hawkins–she says she paid more than that because she got the lightweight lenses and the frames were more expensive.

    Glasses can be pricey, although after a year of decent use, that’s not all that bad. My falling-apart craptastic glasses are going on about 3 years at this point, but I’m too cheap to replace them when I mostly wear contacts anyway.

  4. Falconfire says:

    Glasses should not last less than a year. I am wearing 3 year old frames that cost about as much as hers did. If they last less, even with somewhat haphazard care then something was REALLY wrong with their manufacturing. You should be able to get new lenses in frames they last so long (as I have despite being told I couldnt just so they could try to sell me more expensive frames)

    Likewise those frames should be fixed, not superglued. IF it failed in less than a year its their duty to replace them. We arnt talking about a cheap 15 buck item here but a pair of frigging glasses. I would never go to a optometric who didnt have a lab on site.

    You might do better contacting the frame manufacturer about them since obviously America’s Best is all about selling you instead of fixing them for you.

  5. xian says:

    I agree with CatMoran, you are probably hosed. When I worked at LensCrafters in college at a pretty ritzy mall, we always had people come in with glasses from competitors who wanted a correct fitting or slight “fix” to their frames. We did it for free (even the minor fixes), and usually won their future business. So you could try going to a chain like LC and see if they can do anything. But more than likely they’ll try to sell you a new pair, which you will probably need.

  6. AcidReign says:

    …..I had wondered about America’s Best, after seeing those horribly irritating bobble-headed TV spots. The 2-pair for $69.99 looked awfully good, though. I spent $450 on my last glasses at Lenscrafters. (Brooks Brothers frames, progressive, coated bifocals. Yeah, expensive.)

    …..LensCrafters fixes them free. Even after skateboard accidents, or falling off retaining walls. They don’t, however, replace them when you lose them body surfing in the Gulf of Mexico.

  7. Transuranic says:

    Only FAGGOTS wear glasses. What did you people expect?

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Marie writes:

    “You’ve already gotten some pretty good advice–especially the tip about visiting another chain–but in case that doesn’t pan out, here are a few thoughts based on an almost-lifetime wearing glasses.

    It sounds like the spring mechanism is what’s holding you back. You may be able to cannibalize a spring from a pair of relatively cheap sunglasses. If you can live without the spring, you may be able to execute your own repair using one of the eyeglass-repair kits for sale in most drugstores. If that doesn’t have what you need, an arts and crafts store might. Visit at a slow time (say, first thing in the morning), ignore the stench of candles, and track down a clerk who knows something about the jewelry department. The tiny metal punctuation marks that keep necklaces fastened and earrings dangly are called “fittings”; you maybe able to find something that does the job. You most likely don’t need special tools; tweezers, needlenose pliers, the screwdriver from the aforementioned eyeglass-repair kit and/or the teeny utensils in most computer-repair kits will probably do anything that needs doing. Finally, if all else fails, thread a short length of thin wire through the holes where the screw goes, tighten the ends as best you can (you’ll have to monitor them for slippage), and resign yourself to not having any spring action in that eyepiece until you replace the frames. Resist the temptation to use glue–it makes packing your glasses in a suitcase needlessly suspenseful.”

  9. Dr. Eirik says:

    I’m currently working inside a large eyeglass retailer. The problem you run into is two-fold.

    One, the frame manufacturers change their styles frequently, on the order of one or two years. You can’t typically get the parts anymore because they aren’t made for that specific frame, and the systems aren’t set up to tell you what other parts might match up. In my store, they will canabalize old frames if they can get them to match up, but it dosn’t take much for this not to work, especially in spring loaded hinges.

    The other is that the offices are less set up to fix them on site, beyond bending them back into shape or replacing nosepads that fall off. Fixing a broken spring or hinge required more delicate work than most offices are set up to provide on a timly basis. If you’d lost a screw, then LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, etc can almost certainly help you. Lens pops out, they can often repair that in a jif. Actually snap them in two or break a spring, you’re less likely to be helped.

    If you want to repair your glasses, your best bet is to check the yellow-pages for jewlery repair shops. They often do glasses as well, down to welding broken frames, though these repairs are rarely effective long enough to forgo a new pair (I’m guessing the solder just isn’t strong enough).

    BTW, I advise people to *NEVER* use Super Glue. It takes almost no effort to get that stuff on the lenses, where it destroys them. I can’t tell you how many pairs of glasses I’ve seen over the years that only needed a minor repair completely demolished by using superglue.

  10. katewrath says:

    This won’t repair your broken glasses, but going forward, you might look into your town’s selection of small, boutique eyeglass shops. Yes, they will be more expensive, but you might find that the difference in customer service and quality make up for the leap in cost. Some will be snooty and pretentious, but in the last 3 cities I’ve lived in, I’ve found a place run by an optometrist with a passion for great glasses–Spex in Madison, WI and Visual Effects in Chicago leap to mind–and been very satisfied. I’m wearing a pair of Paul Smith tortoise shell glasses I bought in … 2001? They’re in great shape and if they feel loose, I take them back for a complementary tightening–no springs involved.

  11. ModerateSnark says:

    Around here LensCrafters and Pearle Vision are expensive enough that you might just as well go to a private optometrist and buy your glasses in his office, where you know you’ll get good, if not fast, service.

    America’s Best has also been in my area for several years now. When they first got here they had some ridiculous offer like $29.99 for two pairs of glasses AND contacts. Now $69.99 for two pair sounds about right.

    Fortunately, around here there is an additional low price chain where you can get good service and a good deal (especially if you wait for one of their better sales) called Vision World. They are now part of Eye Care Centers of America which is made up of several chains spread over 34 states. I can’t say if all the member chains are as good as Vision World, but they’d be worth checking out.

  12. Jewelry stores do awesome repairs, but I fixed a pair of glasses myself with a small butane soldering iron.

  13. Fairytale of Los Angeles says:

    If you can find a good local shop, they *might* be able to at least look at it for you.

    I have the highest scrip of anyone I know (10 diopters nearsighted, with additional issues that require me to have very specific lenses ordered) and I gave up on LensCrafters in favor of a store local to me that pretty much shrugs at any weird thing my doctors throw at them, up to and including getting a vendor account with a new lens dealer just to handle one of my scrips. I strongly, strongly suggest you do the same; for one thing, with a good shop with an onsite lab, you’ll never hear the “Oh, this is *custom,* we’ll have it in two *weeks*” LensCrafters garbage again.

  14. hardcle says:

    I don’t have any advice on repair, but you may want to ask if they still carry your current style of frame. If so, you could just buy a new frame and put your current lenses in them which would save you money over a whole new pair. If not, ask if your lenses might fit some other frames.

    FWIW, I’ve been an getting my contacts and glasses from America’s Best for over 10 years and the only problem I’ve had in that time was the time when I got a bad box of contacts and the clerk insisted I had to see the doctor instead of just exchanging them for me. When I returned for my appointment I explained why I was there and the contacts were exchanged without incident.

  15. Trae says:

    This is a test to see if filtering is done properly on HTML. If it is, this will look silly. If it isn’t, a fictional comment will appear. This will be merely helpful to make a joke and point out a flaw. I have chosen to do this on an old entry though in case I end up looking stupid.Test

  16. Trae says:

    Yep. Trae looks stupid.

  17. racegirl546 says:

    My recent visit to my local America’s Worst was not only terrible customer service, it was nasty!! I was in that store for an hour and a half, yes I had an appointment.

    After finally receiving help, the girl that was helping me picked up a wastebasket and spit some green crap in it, and it wasnt gum.