Avoid the financial burdens of constantly re-doing frames, lenses

March 1, 2010

One seminar helps eye-care professionals take a stand against abuse of warranties or buyer's remorse.

Years ago, optometry practices tried competing with big-box retailers by honoring the same type of "no-questions-asked" warranties. Patients could exchange their frames or lenses for new ones, sometimes 2 years after purchasing them.

But this approach has since become a financial burden on everyone from the optometrist to the lens manufacturer, said Kathryn Gross-Edelman, director of education at Pech Optical, a wholesale lab in Sioux City, IA.

"Our company made up a worksheet of what this free care costs eye doctors when patients come in and say, 'I don't like these no-line bifocals' or 'This frame doesn't fit my face,'" she said. "A practice in the Midwest spent $42,000 in staff labor during 2008 for doctor's re-dos, nonadapts, optician errors, and warranty replacements."

Too much time was spent on satisfying patients who abused warranties or suffered from buyer's remorse. To help combat these non-value added policies, Gross-Edelman developed a workshop that she presents under the titles, "Eliminating Free Service" or "Free Care: Friend or Foe?"

According to Gross-Edelman, the seminar helps eye-care professionals take a stand against such policies and help patients become responsible for their purchasing decisions while still retain their practice's patient base.

One idea was to pay attention to verbiage. Instead of using words such as warranty or guarantee, say "We stand behind our products" or "This lens has this type of product performance."

This can also present an educational opportunity for patients when the benefits of new and old lenses are compared. Likewise, it can create value-adds for high-tech products. Tell patients, "If you get this new technology, this is what you can expect in terms of how it will perform . . ."

In the past, she said opticians also tried selling do-all glasses, claiming they accommodated a patient's vision needs. While that may be true for some people, it isn't for those who need a task-specific second pair for working at a computer, reading, or playing sports. Don't set up false expectations, she said, which in turn, may discourage patients from using their warranty.

Gross-Edelman said her company also created a patient brochure that addresses what is and what isn't covered under product performance. It also contains a blurb suggesting that patients wait at least 30 days to feel comfortable with their new prescription lenses before requesting a replacement.

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