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Why I Shouldn’t Have Gone to Specsavers

Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.
As someone, who, when young and in their prime, was blessed with extremely good eyesight, it is most vexing to experience, as a consequence of advancing years, the deterioration in visual acuity that more than half a century of looking at things seems to have engendered. No more crystal clarity and optical precision for Hawky, at least not without glasses. Distance viewing is less problematic for me, although there is an improvement when using mildly corrective lenses, but these days, close work and reading are nearly impossible without optical enhancement. I simply can’t focus on anything nearer than two feet away. Consequently, it has become expedient to seek the services of an optician.

Beguiled by Specsavers’ 'two for one' offer, I sought them out and handed my eyes over to their care. Thus I hoped to obtain both distance and reading glasses at one visit. Now, I should point out that my initial approach to these monkeys was made about 4 years ago and they did their stuff and provided me with satisfactory distance glasses and a pair of reading specs which were less so.

As soon as I put them on I could tell they weren’t right. I could see through them, but the right lens was slightly out of focus. I have to admit that it was mildly better than when looking at something close-up without the supplied spectacles, but wearing them put my eyesight out of balance. While the left eye was crisp and clear, the right felt as though there was a piece of almost transparent gauze taped over it.

Naturally, I pointed this out to them and the response was unequivocal. I was mistaken, wrong, ignorant of the optician’s expertise, simply not used to wearing glasses which were checked against the prescription and found to be correct. I would get used to them. In short, I was brow beaten into accepting glasses which I was positive were not correct for my eyes. Whatever happened to, “the customer is always right”? I would also point out that I was thus abused by some pettifogging minion, not the optician, who wasn’t even consulted!

It just seemed like too much effort to get them to fix, what was at the time, merely a minor irritation. Further delay would have been unacceptable. I was self-employed and my business required that I was able to see. I couldn’t afford to wait a further two or three weeks involving another appointment with the optician and the making of a replacement lens.

In the years since, my eyes have deteriorated, at least my right eye has, and quite markedly. It now has the distinction of producing double vision, something I thought impossible when looking through only one eye. Consequently, I decided to get my eyes checked again; time for new glasses, especially as I have accidentally sat and trodden upon my reading glasses on more than one occasion. The lenses may have survived these indignities but the frames are definitely the worse for wear. I had also elected to dispense with “designer” frames for my reading glasses. They are too narrow and I have a tendency to look underneath them when reading, which means I either have to bend my neck uncomfortably, or hold the book up, for the spectacles to be any use at all.

When I arrived at the opticians’ for my eye test I was at great pains to point out my dissatisfaction with the service I had previously received. I pointed out the deficiencies of my previous pair of reading specks and asked that extra care be taken over the right eye. To be honest, I have to admit that the tests I was given were comprehensive. They even photographed my retinas (obviously some sneaky government scheme to collect biometric information for identification purposes).

The optician dutifully listened to my tale of woe and conducted her tests and informed me that my prescription had changed. I pointed out that it had been wrong in the first place. I’ll give the woman her due though, it was extremely difficult to get the right eye diagnosed correctly. It didn’t seem to matter what lenses she placed in front of it, the vision was always blurred. She checked my cornea for incipient cataracts and discolouration, but it was fine. The left eye she whipped through in no time, as the various lenses were discernibly different in effect. I went away, happy that I had received a good level of service from a competent practitioner, and looked forward to picking up my new specs at the appointed time.

I should have known better.

When I turned up yesterday the distance glasses weren’t ready. Apparently the frames were out of stock. Well this was irritating, but at least I have a useable pair of distance glasses for driving. The reading glasses however, were available, and the new frames looked splendid. I tried them on. The right eye was perfect. Unfortunately the left eye wasn’t.

I pointed this out to the minion, who seemed incapable of understanding that blurred vision in one eye indicated that the prescription was wrong. She waffled at me about binocular vision, apparently without any comprehension that for it to work, both eyes have to see correctly. The patronising attitude made me want to throttle her. Manfully, I restrained myself, repressing the urge to sjambok the idiot within an inch of her life. I did refuse to accept the glasses though. The optician who had examined me wasn’t even in the shop.

I now have another appointment to get re-assessed for next week. However, I have no guarantee that I’ll see the original practitioner.

I can’t help wondering what Specsavers are playing at when they appear to train their staff to ignore customer complaints and argue with them. The whole experience is unpleasant and feels rather impersonal, with a multitude of inexpert shop assistants, passing you from pillar to post while treating you as an idiot. The opticians seem to take their time over you, but in my experience, they are never more than 50% right! Or is it just me? Am I an awkward sod who just doesn’t fit the customer profile? Has anyone else empirical knowledge of Specsavers’ incompetence? I’d love to know.


  1. mtpspur's Avatar
    Well written slice of life account which I envy oyur ability to express so well. Customer care HAS gone downhill the past 10 years or so--I suspect it's sort of a version of 'getting by'.
  2. qimissung's Avatar
    Are you sure you want to continue using them, Hawkman? I think you have received a clear message from the universe to use a different shop-one that's competent.

    Your decision, though. Good story. One you could probably tell with your eyes closed
  3. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Hawk- This is what I think as a loud New Yorker: Stop being so polite and complain loudly! I'd file a complaint or threaten to do so. Can you can talk to the doctor- maybe she can help straighten this out?

    Given my rude opinion, I can sympathize. My husband had a problem with his glasses from Costco. It's a huge national retail warehouse that offers glasses at a discounted price. Let's just say, if it's a bad day, you get what you pay for. They are staffed by similar types compared to the ones you describe. He was given wrong information and until he made a call to the doctor, nothing was going to change.

    As usual, your writing lovely. Thanks for the good reads and best of luck.
    Updated 03-31-2012 at 09:52 PM by Buh4Bee
  4. Virgil's Avatar
    Perhaps I'm not quite understanding everything. If you're seeing double vision, you better go to a good ophthalmologist. As to you vision changing, unless there is some disease going on, it's usually because the cornea changes dimensions over time, and that's due to the shape of your eyes and the way they wear the cornea or a more predominant use of either near sight vision or far sight vision. People who read a lot will tend to be near sighted because the cornea is more frequently forced to a near sight shape, and you can almost think of as being whittled toward that shape. The opposite is for far sighted. If you think there is something going on beyond that, you better check with a good eye doctor.

    Now that I think of it, a few years ago I had an ophthalmologist at an eye glass store tell me she saw something on my retina. I think it was specks or spots, I don't remember exactly. She had me go to a specialist. Scared the dickens out of me, but she turned out to be wrong. The specialist did quite a few extensive tests to make sure. He told me there was a percentage of times that doctors just get something like that wrong.
  5. prendrelemick's Avatar
    To Specsavers, you're just a number, if you don't fit into one of their pre-designated catagories, they don't know what to do with you.
  6. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    It sounds like you need a better optician. I don't know many people who have had a good experience with Specsavers, but my advice to you is that if you can't see through your glasses you should ask for your money back. Some adjustment may be expected, but the initial experience should be that your eyesight is clearer. Ask for a refund in accordance with your rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act - that should make them stand to attention. Another good trick is to write to the Directors or the Group Chief Executive - again, this often gets their attention in ways that complaining directly to a member of staff does not.

    Nicely written blog by the way. I love your style Hawkman
  7. Hawkman's Avatar
    Well! Thank you all for taking the trouble to stop by and cast an eye or two over my little rant

    mtspur: Thanks for the complementary observation. Such expertise as I have in the art of blogging probably owes a debt to the habit of correspondence by which I informed family members of the absurdities of service life. This was back in the dim dark past when there were no mobile phones or email. In short, I'm well practiced in the art of writing.

    qim: that is a question which I have asked myself The answer is probably no, but I'll get the swines to provide me with a decent pair of glasses first!

    B4B: I am learning to be somewhat more forceful in my complaining, although I have, so far, refrained from resorting to drive-by shooting Actually, over here, doctors have very little to do with sorting out one's eyesight. It is the highstreet opticians who, if they feel it is warranted, will contact one's doctor if they detect something untoward. The family GP will then refer one to the appropriate eye hospital. There is actually a very good eye hospital in my home town, however, as I don't need eye surgury to remove cateracts or treat glaucoma, it is probably better not to fall into the hands of the National Health Service. The only time I've ever taken myself off to see them voluntarily was to have treatment for Arc-Eye.

    Anyway, glad to have entertained you

    Virgil: (sorry, I can't help associating that name with Thunderbirds) (You're not a Tracey are you?) I never say no to an international rescuer - lol. For the medical bit see my reply to B4B. The main problem is that these so-called professional practitioners don't actually listen to their custormers. They seem to assume that one is an idiot and incapable of communicating anything worth hearing. They wait for you to stop speaking and then just do what they do by rote. They never explain what they are doing or why. I told the woman that the prescription for my left eye was fine, but she ignored me and told me it had changed. I told her it hadn't and that the right eye's precscription had never been right. As I explained, she managed to get the right eye sorted, but instead of just transferring the existing prescription for my left to the new glasses, she started from there and proceeded to make it worse. She was only interested in answers to questions she asked, not information volunteered by me.

    prendrelmick: thanks, that is what I have come to suspect

    5thEl: yes, I agree, but I've tried Optical Express as well and they aren't much different. The only reason I went to Specsavers was to get an extra pair of glasses! I think I will write a letter of complaint to the CEO of Specsavers, see what that produces Glad you enjoyed the blog

    Live long and prosper - H
    Updated 04-02-2012 at 08:43 AM by Hawkman