Zenni Optical rules

Just figured I would try to upsell a brand that has done me a great service.

Here's my story. In 1999 my frames fell apart so I went to the IU Optometry School and asked them to sell me new frames for my lenses. For about $100 they sold me frames that didn't quite fit my lenses. By 2001, the stress of holding the wrong lenses had broken my new frames. So I went to Walmart and for $60 they made me a complete lenses+frames in about 24 hours. Those super-cheap glasses lasted for 7 years, yay!

Then a tree stole my glasses. I went back to IU Optometry and had an eye exam. I decided to get glasses at Walmart again because they were so inexpensive last time. However, Walmart appears to be a victim of their own success. They had a week-long waiting list and no glasses under $70. Very disappointed!

So I ordered from Zenni Optical. I noticed my new prescription did not seem to match my expectations (it said both of my eyes were the same strength, whereas I knew that one was in fact twice as bad as the other), so I ordered one pair of glasses with my new script and one with a somewhat in-between script. I went ahead and made the second pair blue tinted as a novelty. Total cost for both pairs, $30, including shipping!

Now, the only bad part of this story is it was 2008 and it took Zenni about 6 weeks to get the glasses to me due to international shipping. So the glasses got here, I found that in fact my new script was radically wrong, so I ordered a new pair of untinted glasses much closer to my old script, and with anti-reflective coating: $20. Another 6 weeks passed, and the new glasses were perfect. One caveat, the anti-reflective coating they used is a scratch magnet. Oh well.

I would have been fairly angry at IU Optometry if I had spent $100+ on glasses only to find they had screwed up my script. I have no doubt that they have some customer service commitment and would have found a way to (eventually) make everything "right", but because I was using Zenni Optical I was out such a trivial sum of money that I simply didn't care, and managed to completely avoid the complaints process.

This brings us to 2009. Another tree stole my glasses. I actually found them this time, but not until after I had stepped on them. The good news is Zenni's "high-tech alloys" are pretty good, I was able to simply brute force the frame back into a reasonable shape and it has not broken yet. The bad news is the lenses are scratched to heck, since it was on gravel. So I ordered two new pairs (with a slightly revised script, I think I've got it figured out now, I made a mathematical model and all), without anti-reflective coating, and the cost was only $28. So for $78 I've now had 5 pairs of Zenni Optical glasess covering 4 scripts, 4 frame styles, and 2 coating experiments. Neat!

The really cool part is they appear to have streamlined their international shipping. It only took 9 days for my new glasses to arrive. That's about as fast as Walmart for about 10-20% of the price. Sweet!

The availability of high quality glasses at a reasonable price to everybody provides a huge benefit to the world. I am a fan of Zenni Optical!

Oh, one downside to Zenni...their website is a mess. There is no good way to search for frames by dimensions, so if you know exactly what size/shape you want, you'll potentially have to skim through their entire website looking for a frame in any of the styles (plastic, metal, whatever) that fits your needs. To make matters worse, unless their text says "spring hinge," the hinge is of a somewhat substandard form which will surprise you (but is basically usable).

I do want to point out that there are a bunch of companies now providing a similar service. Most are slightly more expensive, but many are faster and perhaps have better coatings. I do not mean to malign any of them. Cheap glasses rule!

Maybe for my next rant I'll explain my mathematical model and how it liberated me from paying for eye exams.