The Lenscrafters Sales Vortex Will Not Let You Just Buy Frames

Ryun writes that his long search for the perfect eyeglass frames led him to Lenscrafters, but the store’s sales tactics left him confused, embarrassed, and without the frames of his dreams. Was he wrong to walk out on the chain when they pulled out sales tactics he wasn’t comfortable with?

I had a disappointing experience at LensCrafters yesterday that I’d like to share.

I’ve spent the last three months looking for awesome frames that I could wear every day for the next couple of years. After trying on about 300 pairs, I finally found ones that I wanted, but they’re exclusive to LensCrafters, which is outside my insurance network. I was seriously bummed until I checked out the LensCrafters website, and in the ‘insurance’ section, it says:

Out-of-Network Benefits
You don’t have to sacrifice style and selection just to stay in-network. At LensCrafters, we offer a 25% discount, in addition to your plan’s out-of-network benefits. Which means you can get the latest looks in eyewear at a great price.

I did the math, and with the $50 reimbursement I would get from my insurance after purchasing the glasses, I realized that I just might be able to buy my dream frames without my wife killing me for spending too much money. I called 5 stores in the [redacted] area, and one had them! I had them set aside for me, and made sure that the 25% discount applied. The person on the phone said it did, but he added that I “wouldn’t want to use it because of our 50% off lenses sale”

I have great insurance, and I can get 1.70-index lenses with all the bells and whistles for $170 (my insurance gives me a $350 discount); Lenscrafters doesn’t offer lenses at that index, and even with the 50% off, the price isn’t really comparable.

I begged out of work early, and got over to the store at around 4 p.m. The frames were there, and they looked great. I was given the 50% off lenses pitch, but I said that I already had a better deal from my optometrist, and I’d just like to buy the frames with the 25% discount I was quoted. Then it turned weird–like some sort of used car negotiation, which made me very uncomfortable. The associate that was helping me said he had to “talk to his manager”,” they talked, the manager came over and lectured me about how my insurance was out of network and didn’t have any agreement with LensCrafters–but he might be able to do me a favor and give me a 15% discount, without any explanation of why the 25% on the website didn’t apply. I felt hoodwinked and embarrassed, and I left.

What a sad tale of perfect eyewear gone horribly wrong. If I had to guess, I would say that the 25% discount applies only to a complete pair of glasses. Buying frames and taking them elsewhere for lenses messes with their business model, and probably voids the discount.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.