For the sake of full disclosure I own my own optical, but my opinion has been the same despite this fact.
After reading many of the comments about the video I felt it was my duty… nay, my moral obligation to give my two cents on the topic. Luxottica is affectionately known as the evil empire in some optical circles. I feel that an Independent Practitioner point of view would shed some light on some of the shenanigans that pervade the optical industry. I feel that the video segment fell a little flat on the point of consumer costs. While Lux owns many chains like Lens Crafters, Pearle, Target Optical, Sears Optical, Ilori and I’m sure I’m missing one or two, the argument made in the video is that their prices are exorbitant. While this may be the case, you have the option of buying glasses anywhere you wish. No one is forced to buy anything from them. What obligation do they have to charge less than they do? Are they doing anything illegal regarding pricing? As was mentioned by the CEO, eye glasses cost whatever the consumer is willing to pay for it. As far as I know, they don’t collude so they aren’t breaking the law….sort of. They don’t have to think about collusion because they own so much of the market. With whom to collude?…And this is where the problem lies.
Lux is a force of nature in this industry and they let the Independents know it. It is something akin to the “dark side” in the Star Wars mythos. They own so many designer frame lines. If one wants to get Lux product, one has to comply with purchase orders of pieces well above the norm. In other words, if I open an account and want to get, say….Chanel, the minimum purchase orders are through the roof, which can impose a real burden on a small business. Now, Crystal Eyecare can’t get Chanel because we are considered too medical and not boutique enough, which is fine by me. Name brands aren’t as important as they would be in a boutique. My concerns are for reliable and consistent vision which I provide through a warranty (1 or 2 years depending on the frame vendor – 2 year warranty on any Crizal or comparable Anti-Reflective coated lens).
Eyemed is by far the most damning part of the segment in my opinion. Lux owns a vision insurance company. While we (@ Crystal Eyecare) do take this insurance, it is somewhat difficult to administer benefits. They don’t provide valid ID numbers for their members which would help us tremendously. Eyemed has way too many plans, each with their own twist, but not significantly so to warrant another plan. Many are discount plans that seem to be peddled as funded insurance plans which generates copious amounts of confusion. Their reimbursement is fairly low, especially for doctor services.
The 60 Minutes segment should have been called the” illusion of choice.” That’s the real problem. Lux flies under the radar because they have too many names, kinda like…Satan…you know…having too many names.
While the video mentions Walmart and Costco as options, they aren’t by any means the only option. In the case of Walmart, you would be trading one monolithic company for another. I would choose Independent Practitioners over a chain. You can get better service and better lens choice which could be the difference between being a non-adapt or a happy progressive lens wearer. Some Indie’s may offer specialty repairs, soldering/welding of broken frames and can do some pretty amazing things. Find a local optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist that is involved in the community, that you are comfortable with and within your budget. Too many often under estimate the quality of a good doctor-patient relationship to your overall health. In the scheme of things it should be about vision and health and less about “designer eye wear.” One can be fashionable and see great without having to have a D&G plastered on the side of your head.