Tuesday, August 16, 2016

This or That: Warby Parker / Eye Buy Direct

I'm starting a new review process called "This or That" where two similar companies or products will be pitted against each other to decipher their pros and cons! Doesn't that sound fun? I spend the money so that you don't have to!
First up is eye wear.  I've been wearing glasses for 20 years. Gah. They've always come from box stores and they've always been expensive- even with "BOGO" deals that always seem to have a catch.
Recently, the online trend has been catching on and four-eyed consumers like myself have been purchasing their frames from web dealers.
I decided to give two big online retailers a go, WARBY PARKER and EYEBUYDIRECT.

First up? Warby Parker.
Warby Parker has an extremely easy to navigate website and allows you to choose up to 5 frames from select options to try on at home. I immediately took advantage of that fact and had 3 pairs of glasses and 2 sunglasses shipped. For free.
They arrived quickly and well packaged (I'm a marketers dream) with clear instructions and suggestions. I tried on all 5 pairs and snapped pictures, then tweeted my two final contestants to Warby Parker's team for their super professional opinion.
THEN, tragedy struck, I discovered that my script was outdated. My doctor wrote the script for one year instead of two, even though he had no reason to do so which is borderline illegal in Michigan. But whatever.
So I scheduled an appointment with a different optician for an updated script and in that time decided I didn't really love any of the frames they sent.
So I ordered 5 more.
For free.
I had a clear winner in the second batch and placed my order online. This is the part that gets tricky.
They take your PD (Pupillary Distance) for you using a photograph. I think that's a huge mistake. For most people it isn't an issue, but the glasses they shipped gave me serious headaches and nausea.
I emailed the kind customer service team who put me in contact with one of their on site opticians. She helped me troubleshoot the issues and sent a second pair after having me shoot another selfie while wearing the glasses.
These were not better. My PD is monocular - which means I have two different numbers because my eyes aren't symmetrical. The ones measured using my photograph are binocular, which means they're equal distances. They were also 3 MM further apart than they should have been,  so one eye was off by 2 mm and the other was off by 1. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but the headaches were out of control. I couldn't wear them for more than a few minutes without getting sick.
I again emailed the team and they vowed to this time use the number provided by my doctor instead of the measurement from a selfie, and the result was much better. I love my new glasses.

One for One: for every pair you buy, they ship a pair to someone in need.
Cost: My frames were $100 out the door, including shipping
Customer Service: To their credit, they stayed with me until those glasses were solid- they made THREE pairs!
Style: Their design team is on point with new frames coming all the time.
Try On Program: Come on! You can try before you buy FOR FREE!
Packaging: They arrive beautifully packaged with a case and a sleeve which doubles as a cleaning cloth. However,  my glasses are too long for the case (you can see this in the above photo).

PD: Measuring this using a selfie seems like a terrible idea. They should encourage people to use the PD measured by their optician when getting an eye exam.
Script: You need to show an actual copy of your current script, which isn't required by all companies.
Time: There was a huge expanse of time between when I purchased my first pair of glasses and received the final approved pair. June 29th- August 15th.
Returns: You absolutely cannot get in contact with them to make a return.

My experience with this company was short and sweet. Their frames start at $6, but that isn't including shipping or a prescription lens. Keep in mind when ordering that adding a script will up your cost $20. I also saw zero frames for $6 while casually browsing.
Their site isn't quite as clean or easy to navigate as Warby Parker, but it is FULL OF FRAMES! They have a HUGE selection and you can upload a selfie and try the glasses on virtually. I did that with the pair of glasses I ended up buying and while it was helpful it wasn't extremely accurate. The glasses looked different on me in real life, they were larger on my face, which was a good thing.
EyeBuyDirect allows you to just enter your entire script (including PD!) so you don't have to use an updated prescription. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but it would have been helpful for me.
UPDATE: I ended up ordering a second pair of sunglasses from EBD. They didn't work at all and I could not get in touch with a live human to return them. I sent several e-mails and called multiple times. Once I was able to get a live human and she promised to send me a return label but never did. That was over 6 months ago and I've never been able to return my glasses. It's definitely something to keep in mind.
Also, they offer rewards programs for referrals and send out tons of coupons. I paid $37 total for my new sunglasses and they were perfect from the moment they arrived.
Lastly, they have a premium line which is more expensive- these are identical to the Baker frame that I purchased from Warby Parker, they even come in tortoise! With the added charge for a prescription and case, they would be about the same price though.

PD/Script: You can enter the PD from your doctor, script doesn't have to be brand new.
Price: The prices are just so cheap, even the "premium line" is affordable.
Time: They were at my door in about 8 days after ordering.
Selection: MASSIVE
Coupons: They're always offering sales, money off for referrals and incentives to buy if you wait it out.

Quality: I like them, but they don't seem sturdy enough to last as long as my expensive prescription sunglasses. These are backups.
Website: It could be a *little* cleaner.
Packaging: I don't find their packaging to be very appealing. They come in a sliding box which cannot be used as a case and have a fabric sleeve. A case is a $4 extra charge that I'm wishing I had paid!

In summary, both companies are good. I lean a little more toward EyeBuyDirect if you plan to have several pairs or often lose/break yours. Otherwise, Warby Parker's frames are a bit more sturdy. Using my link to their site allows you to save $10 on your first purchase :)

Have you used a different online retailer? I'd love to hear your experience below!

*I have not been solicited for my opinion or received anything for writing this piece. All opinions are my own. The provided link for EYEBUYDIRECT is unique to me and does provide a referral kickback if used, the same as it would for any other customer who is part of the referral program.

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