When it comes to buying prescription glasses..... go in with your eyes wide open.
You can pay through the nose if you're not careful but things are more in focus these days when it comes to spectacles and it seems the public is a lot smarter when it comes to buying them.
Independent optician Peter Eckert from Black Forest Optical says, "I'm often disappointed when I hear clients that have paid the price they have for the products they've received."
Peter admits it's no optical illusion that the spectacle landscape in Australia has changed in recent times, with at least one giant overseas company buying up local stores and brands.
"There's been a lot of takeovers, with that comes costs," says Peter.
The world's largest eyewear firm, Italy's Luxottica now owns iconic brands� OPSM, Laubman and Pank and Budget Eyewear.
Pete Larson, the CEO of the largest privately owned optical chain in the world, Specsavers, is another who is ready to take on the Italian mob.
"The Italian company owns most of the shops that are in shopping centres throughout Australia," says Pete ...."that has had the effect of reducing competition and I think raising prices."
Pete says the industry has been too money driven for far too long.
So Specsavers have fired a salvo, with a 2 for one policy on their $199 or above, range of glasses.
But how low can these prescription glasses go?
"The cheapest pair of reading glasses Specsavers sell is $99," says Pete.
But buying online is being touted as even a cheaper way to go.
National online company Focalise is run by Robert and Gemma Regan from their home in Cooma, New South Wales.
"By being online and having low overheads we can deliver fantastic savings for the customer," says Robert.
Gemma says they are only a small player but have a passion for the job "�'we're two people working at home just trying to help out the Aussie public, trying to give them a fair go when it comes to buying glasses."
The onliners are claiming the mantle of selling Australia's cheapest pair of prescription spectacles.
"At only $49 whether it be for reading or distance, we will customize the glasses� the frames �the lenses� and give you a hard case and cloth... and deliver to your door for just $49," says Gemma.
Peter the independent from Black Forest Optical can't go that low at one hundred and thirty nine dollars but reckons he can ace the online guys.
'If you've got a half idea of what you're doing in ordering glasses, for frames, materials, types of lenses, coatings and add-ons for your glasses�. if your informed about them and you know what your doing then sure, order on the internet, if you don't, look out, there is so much room for error."
But the internet duo don't see it that way� "Come online and get massive savings by buying with us," says Robert.
Pete Larson at Specsavers is a hands on merchant.
'When you can buy a frame including lenses for $99, get them fitted to your face, have them guaranteed, swap them if your not happy�. I mean why wouldn't you come into a store and buy them?"
And there's always the bargain bin at the other Pete's place at Black Forest where you can by frames for as little at $27.50�.marked down from $240.
If you're not on private health cover you don't miss out. Concession card holders in South Australia, which includes pensioners, can save up to $30 with the State Governments' spectacle scheme and like pharmacy prescription drugs, you don't have to buy the expensive brands.
"There are generic brands and that saves dollars," says Peter Eckert.
In other words, shop around. Never pay full tote odds, whether online or in person.
Black Forest Optical
715 South Road
Black Forest, SA
(08) 8351 2378
Phone: 1300 793 530
PO box 350
Cooma, NSW 2630
Adelaide - Rundle Mall
12 Rundle Mall
(08) 8410 5444
Other stores at Colonnades
Tea Tree plaza