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  April 3, 2013
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Scratched Lenses—Expense, Revenue or Customer Service Opportunity?

By dba Staff


Photo courtesy of Nanofilm

How do optical retailing leaders handle patients returning with scratched lenses? Do they charge extra for a warranty up front, build it into the purchase price or simply remake lenses for free and consider it good customer service? The following optical retailers told dba the policies they follow regarding scratched lenses: Alan Ulsifer, OD, CEO and president, FYidoctors; Gordon A. Bishop, FNAO, ABOC, RO, CEO and president, Sunland Optical; Ira Haber, co-owner and president, Europtics; Mark Johnson, director of optical services, Virginia Eye Institute; Amanda Ditch, vice president of operations, Clarkson Eyecare; Jonathan Rosin, M.D., co-president, Rosin Eyecare; David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler; Debbie Bacon, director of optical services, Barnet-Dulaney-Perkins.

 


Alan Ulsifer, OD, CEO and president, FYidoctors, Alberta, Canada

What is your policy regarding patients returning with scratched lenses? Our policy is simple. Use common sense and look after people. Our dispensers can make the decision on what is reasonable and sometimes can go beyond that to reward a loyal patient. A scratched lens can be a great opportunity to wow your patients with the care you give, and a small up-front investment can pay for a lifetime.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? Our standard is two years, and there is no charge for remakes in this period. We are not too concerned about the cause of the scratch, and because we use all high Bayer coatings, we do not have much of an issue. We allow for discretion of the dispensers outside this period, and they have the ability to wow a patient or prevent a disgruntled patient from spreading ill will.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? The advantage of owning your own lab is that it is not so costly to go out of your way to create a great impression for your patients. We try to ensure that our lab staff sees the trays not as "jobs" but as "patients." The lab does not get in the way of our decision to serve our patients.

 

Gordon A. Bishop, FNAO, ABOC, RO, CEO and president, Sunland Optical, El Paso, Texas

What is your policy regarding patients returning with scratched lenses? Sunland Optical, within its contract, has a one-year warranty against normal wear and tear scratching. However, if the patient abuses the product, the warranty is negated. Naturally, this could become a customer service issue at our locations, so all our staff members have the authority to make the call, customer by customer. The majority of our lenses sold are poly with a good scratch guard.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? Yes, we have a warranty which is automatically included in our retail price, and yes, we would charge for re-dos if they fall outside the scope of the warranty.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? No, since we are vertically integrated and our lab is internal, but the store itself absorbs the cost of the remake, which was built into the retail price.

 

Ira Haber, co-owner and president, Europtics, Denver, Colo.

What is your policy regarding patients returning with scratched lenses? You can't believe how many people (well, being in the optical business, you probably can) come in for their guarantee replacement in the 23rd month (with their two-year guarantee). Some of our genius sales opticians even encourage these customers to come in for a free replacement before two years are up. These are the kind of employees I wish would get a job with the competition. Some of them even try to get a new Rx in under this guarantee. They're denied, of course.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? All of our AR lenses come with a two-year anti-scratch guarantee, one time only. Well over 90 percent of our clear or cosmetically tinted lenses have AR, and 75 percent of our sun tinted or polarized lenses have backside AR, which will qualify them for our two-year, one-time-only guarantee. As concerns non-AR lenses, it's a toss-up. I would love to say that they are denied or offered universally, but that would be a lie.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? The labs with which we deal all offer a one-time replacement for whatever reason on progressive lenses and a 20 percent to 50 percent discount on single vision or lined multifocals. Additional discounts are at the discretion of the lab. Since over 85 percent of our progressives are free-form technology, it's pretty much a no harm, no foul scenario.

 

Mark Johnson, director of optical services, Virginia Eye Institute, Richmond, Va.

What is your policy regarding patients returning with scratched lenses? We offer a one-year, one-time replacement for all of our lenses except for premium AR lenses. Premium AR lenses have a little more flexibility, up to about two years, sometimes a bit longer depending on the circumstances. We will replace these lenses more than once, and it allows our opticians to look great to their patients when we cover something that is over a year. This helps create patient loyalty.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? We do not charge for a scratch warranty or re-dos, and we do not sell extended warranties. Since our average optical sale is $435, we include all the warranties for at least a year. On premium products we have the flexibility to go up to two years and sometimes a little more depending on the case.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? Yes, we require them to be flexible with us and work with patients on this. Sometimes it is a case-by-case basis when it is over a year or just over two. This flexibility allows us to create patient loyalty which benefits the practice and the lab we utilize, a win/win for everyone.

 

Amanda Ditch, vice president of operations, Clarkson Eyecare, Ellisville, Mo.

What is your policy regarding patients returning with scratched lenses? Before we replace any lenses, we check when the patient was last seen for an eye exam. If they are due for another exam, it's better to update their prescription and forget about any warranty or remake since it is time for the patient to purchase a new pair. Otherwise, we do replace lenses one time within one year of the original purchase if the lenses were scratched during reasonable use. In unfortunate situations, like when the family dog gets a hold of a pair of glasses, we will replace the lenses at a discount off our retail price.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? Our "warranty" is built into our retail price for lenses.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? One of the great things about having our own lab is it really doesn't matter how we handle scratched lens warranties and lab invoicing. However, for bookkeeping purposes, our lab invoicing is discounted at the same rate as wholesale labs in the area for warranty remakes. This allows us to look at true profitability both in our eyecare offices and at our lab.

 

Jonathan Rosin, M.D., co-president, Rosin Eyecare, Chicago

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? We offer every patient an optional $25 warranty. This has proven to be an important area of revenue for us. The policy protects their frame and lens purchase against scratching or breakage for any reason at no charge for 30 days. Thereafter, lenses are replaced if scratched or broken at 20 percent of retail cost. Additionally, prescription changes are covered for six months at no charge.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? While we operate our own laboratory, under some circumstances, we are compelled to outsource lens production (for some managed care plans). Most of these plans include a one-time remake at no charge.

 

David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler, Alexandria, Va.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? We include a one-year scratch warranty for lenses sold with a coating of any type. This includes retail sales but not insurance plans sold at cost plus. For those plans a warranty is an additional $20.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? Many labs offer a warranty of varying length that will cover scratches.

 

 


Debbie Bacon, director of optical services, Barnet-Dulaney-Perkins, Phoenix, Ariz.

What is your policy regarding patients returning with scratched lenses? In most cases our patients have a warranty for one year after the purchase date.

Do you offer a scratch warranty or do you charge for re-dos? We offer a one-year, one-time warranty on all eyewear (except non-coated CR39) at no charge for the patient. If, however, there is an issue with non-covered items and it is within the year we offer a 50 percent discount on new lenses.

Does the lab help you with scratched lenses? Our labs do offer a one-time free replacement on all lenses (except non-coated CR39).

 

This month’s dba q&A topic and questions were submitted by Marty Bregman, FNAO, optician with a long history in the optical business and currently with Mr. Specs Opticians in Lynn, Mass. If you would like to suggest subjects and/or questions for a future dba q&a, or if you are a mid-size regional optical chain and would like to participate in our next survey, please email jsailer@jobson.com.



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