Purchasing a new pair of prescription glasses shouldn’t be a hassle.  After wearing glasses for over 30 years each, Olivia and I are quite familiar with how things normally go and the problems that often arise.  However, our recent experience with JC Penney Optical (JCPO) was horrendous.

In fact, it was so bad that we’ll not be using them again, even though she’s a long-time employee and gets a discount along with insurance.

This is our story.

My wife and I hadn’t had our eyes checked in about five years, so in early June we made appointments for us and our oldest daughter.  We decided to use JCPO to purchase the glasses because between insurance and her employee discount, our out-of-pocket costs would be significantly lower.

The result: 6 failures!

Our daughter’s glasses were ordered first.  When they arrived, we found that one of the lenses was very loose in the frame.  Even worse, the frame was already as tight as it would go.  Turned out the lab made the lens too small.

Fail number one.

We sent them to be fixed, but the problems got worse: the lab broke her frames and had to order a new pair, prolonging our wait.

Fail number two.

A short time later Olivia and I had our eyes checked and ordered our glasses.  While choosing frames, the sales clerk said that there was no listing for me having insurance.  Olivia explained that I’m listed under her since she’s the primary.  The clerk insisted, though, that I wasn’t listed as being insured.  Frustrated, I turned and retorted, “You’re saying I have no insurance?”  She replied, “No, only that I can’t find you as being insured.”  Finally, after Olivia had to nearly argue with her, she finally found me under Olivia’s name (just like Olivia told her in the first place).

Finally, my wife’s glasses arrived, but she noticed that one of the lenses was chipped.  The lady working in the optical shop tried claiming it was merely a piece of plastic.  However, Olivia could tell the difference between plastic and a chip.  Besides, she checked to make sure it wasn’t plastic before returning the glasses.

Fail number three.

Things got worse from there.

When I ordered my glasses, I purchased both the anti-glare and “HD” lenses.  On the day they arrived, I took the new pair home to try them out, and immediately I noticed two problems.  First, there was no “HD” as advertised.  When I looked through various parts of the lens, the vision was crystal clear only in a small area in the middle; it was blurry elsewhere.  This was just like the glasses the new pair was to replace, and the older pair didn’t come with “HD” lenses.

Second, I noticed what I thought was a small laser-etched logo in the right lens that interfered with my vision when I looked through it.  Nobody wants an HD product that comes with a blurry spot built in, especially not in a product intended to make your vision clear.

Fail number four.

I quickly returned to the shop, now angry because JC Penney Optical had a track record of failure.  My expectations were very low at this point.

I’ll admit that I was short with the lady who tried to help me, but like I said, after four failures, frustration would be expected.  Nevertheless, the lady was extremely rude and unprofessional, accusing me of having an attitude problem.  I told her that JCPO had repeatedly failed, and so I was upset by yet another failure.  She didn’t seem to accept that answer.

About a week later my repaired glasses arrived.  I checked them out and noticed that while the HD feature was fixed, there were now four laser-etched designs in the lenses (two in each) that interfered with my vision.  The sales clerk said that they were always there in all lenses.  I pointed out that they are not in my wife’s or daughter’s glasses, but the clerk argued, saying I was wrong.  I double checked my wife’s glasses and, not surprisingly, found no laser-etched images.

JC Penney Optical doesn't tell customers that HD lenses may have laser-etching that can interfere with vision.

Screen shot of JC Penney Optical’s online advertisement for “HD” lenses. Nowhere does it mention the presence of markings that can interfere with vision.

Also, we emphasized that nowhere in the advertising does it say that the HD lenses will come with markings that, while they should be invisible, may interfere with vision (see screen shot).  While we didn’t say it to the clerk, Olivia and I believe that this is misleading or even outright false advertising.

I told her I wanted the markings removed because they blur my vision.  She promised to call the lab to see what could be done.  So we went home and waited.

That afternoon JCPO called my wife and relayed the lab’s message: (1) the laser-etching cannot be removed, (2), they can either try to lighten the markings or I can go down to the regular, non-HD version, and (3) this will be the last time they work on my glasses (basically, take it or leave it because they were done with me).

Believing we had few other choices, and considering that I didn’t previously have HD lenses, we chose the non-HD version.

Fail number five.ne 20th, when my glasses came in the first time, I tweeted my frustrations, intentionally tagging JC Penney and JCPO hoping one of them would be able to provide some sort of solution.


Furthermore, My wife emailed them (as they say to do) on the day my glasses came back the second time.  As of the date this post was published, neither JC Penney nor JCPO has responded.

Fail number six.

As a result of the repeated failures by JC Penney Optical, we will not be using their services in the future.  Furthermore, we strongly encourage you and your family to avoid JCPO for your vision needs.

Next time we’ll use Vision Source instead!  They may be more expensive, but their service is better.

What optical retailers do you recommend using or not using?


John L. Rothra

John is an author, speaker, blogger, and aspiring YouTuber. He's also a bassist and a huge Buffalo Bills fan. John holds a PhD in evangelism and has pastored/preached for over a decade.

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