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Zenni Optical Review

Posted By Jim On 04/12/2012 @ 7:10 am In Reviews | 12 Comments

One of the best parts about getting laser eye surgery last year is that I, hopefully, won’t need glasses for a very long time. My wife, however, isn’t so lucky and she hasn’t done it because I think she looks cute in glasses (plus her prescription isn’t too bad). But just recently her glasses broke, after several years of good service, and she needed to buy another pair. Having not purchased a pair in quite a while, her prescription was outdated and needed to be refreshed.

When she went to our local optometrist, who had an adjoining glasses business, she discovered that they were charging $200-300 for a pair of glasses! When she came home and told me this, I said that was ridiculous. $100 for a pair of glasses is too much, $300 is absurd. We first went to Costco to look for a pair but she didn’t like anything there. Then I remembered all those years of hearing about Zenni Optical [3] and their ridiculously cheap frames.

Zenni Frame Fit

One of the hard things about buying frames online is that you won’t know how they look on your face. Zenni combated this problem with their “Zenni Frame Fit” tool, which let’s you upload a picture and “try” on frames. The best photos are passport style photos. If you don’t want to find or take a photo, you can always use their face models instead. All you need to do is find your pupillary distance [4], which is the distance between the center of your pupils as measured in millimeters. If you don’t know this, ask your optometrist to measure it for you.

My wife has a relatively narrow face (PD 56) so she had to find a model with a narrow PD – it turned out the closest one was this distinguished gentleman (with her frames on right now).

Free Lens Features

If you’ve ever purchased glasses, you’ll recognize that stores love to charge out the wazoo for every little lens “feature.” If you want anti-scratch coating? Extra. Thin lenses? Extra. UV protection? Extra. Zenni includes all those for free, plus a case and cleaning cloth. I remember the last time I bought a pair of glasses from Costco, they charged for all those things and it wasn’t inconsequential.

Cheap $6.95 Frames

The frame that she settled on was not one of the $6.95 or $9.95 specials but she said those all looked really nice considering the price. She said that, in talking with her friends, a lot of people purchased $6.95 frames as backup glasses, or “hold over glasses” before they bought a nicer pair. Had I known better, many years ago, I probably would’ve purchased a $7 special when I wore contacts.

Why spend even $50 on a frame I’ll only wear for an hour or two before I fall asleep? It makes no sense.

Fast Shipping

For my wife, the most surprising part of the entire process was how quickly the glasses came. She ordered it on a Friday and it arrived the following Friday. You couldn’t get glasses that fast from our local Costco, who obviously ships them out to be made. While the site promises 7-14 days, it’s rare that you get it in 5 business days (unless they’re Zappos [5]).

Return Policy

The return policy is the only place where they might take a few lumps and that’s because they only offer 50% of the value of the glasses on a return within 30 days. If you buy glasses from a local place, chances are they have a return policy (for example, Sears offers a 90-day unconditional return policy [6]). This might be especially disconcerting when you figure you’re buying something you haven’t tried on. That said, when the frame is only $6.95, compared to $69.95 at a local store, it’s worth the risk.

The end result was that she purchased a pair of glasses on Zenni Optical, frames and lenses, at a total cost of around $60. She paid $40 for the frame, $9 for the lenses (1.59 PC(Polycarbonate) Single Vision), $5 for anti reflection coating, and then $5 for shipping. You save a few bucks on tax too. My wife’s fan, hopefully she doesn’t break any more glasses anytime soon.


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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/zenni-optical-review.html

[3] Zenni Optical: http://www.zennioptical.com/

[4] pupillary distance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupillary_distance

[5] Zappos: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/zappos-vip-membership.html

[6] 90-day unconditional return policy: http://www.searsoptical.com/eyeglasses/customer-service-guarantee-and-protection

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