Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The cost of seeing

The glasses finally broke. I say finally because Alain Affelou in France had welded on the cheapest pair possible after the frame snapped earlier this year sur les vacances. This time both arms broke clean away, so I needed a new frame or, preferable cheapest option, a repair job.

I moved my optician, the chain which I stick to loyally because my sister works for them on the south coast (Southampton or Christchurch, depending), to the City, where they promise a more hands-off approach because their clients’ time is money plus a few points and they need some flexibility if you don’t mind the markets are burning etc. Plenty of Klein specs in ready for bonus season.

They definitely can’t do repairs, the dispensing optician equivalent to my sister insists. Oh and because a new frame couldn’t possibly be made to fit so my old lenses match the centre of my vision, or something, I’ll need new lenses too. It’s at this point that I point out through muffled comments that I do not work in the Square Vile, inviting her to look me up and down for sartorial confirmation. Ignoring that she points me to a range of frames and outlines my expensive options, throwing in the inevitable get-two-pairs deal if you pay a bit more. And because my prescription is off-the-scale myopic, the mark-up will increase because thinner lenses cost more. Soon we’re looking at £300, even after I somewhat desperately mention the family discount, so I leave and say I’ll stew over the options.

Minutes later I am in Rough Trade where I get the call from the ocular head honcho. All smooth presentation and clipped phrases, he essentially breaks down what I already know, but does so with a salesman’s insistence that is hard to ignore and indeed inclines me to take the easy way out just to put the phone down.

So I put the phone down, having virtually agreed to take the most expensive option. Some £300 or so worth of new ophthalmic kit. What a weakling I think, but I eventually stiffen my resolve and head back to the local opticians in SE4. Here, the assistant says she’ll at least see if they can get repaired. Two days later they come back repaired and it costs just £20. Wasn’t that hard now was it?
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