Years ago, we wrote this article on my friends over 50 are getting shafted by their eye doctors. Over the last year one of those friends (now over 60) has been relating to me her eye doctor issues.
I had referred her to a new eye doc about 20 years ago. Over the years, she had complained about his staff and him flirting with staff and ignoring her. Essentially she liked him until about 3 years ago. This is why:
1.) She did not like the frame selection and told them. In fact it was so bad she went to a J.C. Penney’s and did one of their frame and lens packages. She liked their selection better. Her Doc knew, because she went in to get her frames adjusted. RED FLAG #1.
2.) A year later in San Francisco, she spent over $700 on another out of pocket sunglasses. Of course she ordered the lenses too in San Francisco. Her Doc had to to know because they called to get the script. RED FLAG #2.
Moral of this story: The doctors staff pre-judged her pocket book and did not offer a choice to find eyewear she liked. In fact, I had told her to find green frames and she asked them and they told her they were not available. RED FLAG #3.
Lenses: My friend loves her Round 38/ or Ultex. When she got her new lenses put in the frame (not a new frame because she didn’t like their eyewear selection) they put her in a Flat 28. She hates them, hates them and hates them and will not wear the frames. What happened:
- She called to tell Eye Doc staff she couldn’t see. They told her that her old lenses were not available anymore.
- They did not tell her VSP discontinued the lenses.
- They told her you could NOT get the lenses anymore.
- She was NOT given the option to pay out of pocket for a lenses she like.
- She asked to speak with Doctor and they told her that he didn’t deal with these issues, they did.
- Preventing her from dealing with doctor that made her angry.
- Asked me for referrals to new doctor as she did not like the staff.
She came and talked to me and had to be her own advocate. I went on the optical forums to inquire and found out that Round 38’s and 40’s were still available just not through VSP. Found several labs (VSP and otherwise that still had the lenses in stock). She would have to pay out of pocket. I told her this and she stated that why didn’t the staff tell her this and she would pay out of pocket.
All of this took time until her next yearly eye exam. The staff told her to adjust to her new lenses, (RED FLAG #4) She tried and stopped wearing them. She had called several times and they would not deal with this issue. She asked me for referrals to other doctors. I informed her to deal with Doc at her next annual eye exam, which she did
Doc then informed her about his problems with VSP. Which she understood, but for a year she was unhappy with her doctor and was actively seeking other choices. She felt better and that he was being honest, but questioned why didn’t the staff inform her? (RED FLAG #5, why didn’t the staff make notes in the file and if they did, why didn’t the Doc address them?)
All of this is well and good, but there is a bigger issue here:
- Staff was not informed-educated about lens alternatives. Telling my friend Round 38’s were not available anymore? My friend is even more disenchanted with the office, because of uneducated staff.
- If staff did know about Round 38’s, why didn’t they provide lens options?
- Staff did not allow her to speak with Doc. She had been a patient for over 20 years and not allowed to bother the Doc?
- Staff prejudged her pocketbook and let her go for a year being unhappy. She did try to address the issue and staff ignored her concerns. I know this because I talked her into staying and trying to resolve the issue.
- Felt that staffing education and training is inconsistent and not honest with her.
- Multi-Red Flags were ignored or not put into her chart.
- Doc will most likely remain ignorant of staff and education issues. Will most likely continue to lose patients.
- The Doc has lost the frame business with my friend and her husband. My friend has spent over $1000 with over optical places because she did not like the eyewear selection. Five years ago, I recommended my friend get green frames to set off her hazel eyes. The staff told her they were not available. (Seriously)
- No more referrals will be going to the Doc. The compliments that she gets on her glasses get referred to the high end exclusive line that she wearing.
- She will not refer to to the inconsistency in staff and customer service.
- He lost a patient, he will get the eye exams and maybe some medical treatments, but the fashion aspect… gone.
- She is now fickle and is open to other possibilities.
This is just one story and believe me, I have many, as everyone wants to tell me their optical story. What to me is the worst part, many of these stories are about independent eyecare professionals who have turned a blind eye to superior customer service.