Eyewear Consumer Reports Good for Independent Optical


Reading the results of the latest Consumer Reports survey on shopping for eyeglasses, I was not surprised to see that Costco topped the ratings of eyeglass retailers, which included large chains, independent local optical shops and private doctors offices. Consumer Reports is very price orientated and is a major factor of the overall rating. It was a actually refreshing to read the following:

“With the exception of price, doctor’s offices and independent optical boutiques typically scored high marks across the board, particularly when it came to employee know-how, service, and the quality of the finished glasses. Independent boutiques are also the place to go for great frame selection. Eighty-three percent of readers who purchased their glasses at an indie shop were highly satisfied with the variety of frames available, compared with 69 percent at the big retailers.”

The independent optical and doctors office were recommended for  “quality and service” .

As far as pricing  is concerned Costco averaged $157 compared to $211 at independent optical shops and $212 at eye doctors’ offices. As most optical consumers know, their choice is limited at Costco and the frame selection is usually very picked over. I have been involved in doing some mystery shopping with the optical chains and sometimes the mystery shoppers have said they could not find a frame they would wear. So yes the price is low but so is this choice not just frames but lenses and coatings as well. Just like most shopping at Costco, one expects good prices and quality but very limited selection. There is nothing wrong with this and offers a good option for some optical consumers.

People often ask me to recommend an optical location for them and when Costco comes up I usually say, if you want the lowest price go there but don’t expect a lot of choice or anyone to spend time selecting the right frame for your face or even the Rx. I tell them to think about their priorities and especially the fact that they are purchasing a service and a finished product that they will wear every day, will help them see well every day and that they will also be seen in every day. I also give them information about some of the different lenses they might want to consider and that they should seek expert help on selecting the right lenses not just picking out a frame.

It is good to see that most optical consumers recognize the value of choice and expert help!

I believe that these Eyewear Consumer Report results are an excellent reflection of the service and product that the Independent Optical provides to the consumer and this information is good for the Independent Optical.

Source: The report is in the December issue currently available on Newstands and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Feb31 Mid 519


  1. Re: Costco. Here I go again.

    Their frame and lens selections and powers are limited. Definitely a drawback.

    However, their dispensers, on the whole, are way more competent than the industry average. They require continuing education and certification of all their dispensers whether the state requires it or not. They also pay well above the local markets so tend to draw…and keep…good, talented folks.

    The quality of their product offerings are, again, well above industry averages.

    I think you’re doing somewhat a disservice when you allow independents to dismiss mass merchandisers as inferior.

  2. Hey, I’m a strong supporter of the independent…ECP or lab. However, my experience is that many (most?) tend to discount the integrated retailers w/o justification.

    LensCrafters products are top-notch; the local store varies tremendously. Wal-Mart? Well, ’nuff said.

    My point was for the independent to acknowledge their competition………..to be aware of what they offer…………in order to compete. If the marketplace works, Costco will only force the independents to get better. They need not sit back on their (self-perceived) laurels.

    I recall a secret-shopper video shown at the Transitions Academy maybe 3 years ago that highlited the ineptitude of many ECP’s. That’s where we need to start.

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