Monday, November 17, 2008

Always Speak Up!

This weekend we had an incident that reminded me that one must always speak up if one feels wronged by a business. One will probably get a refund or better.

Epu took Friday off work to get some stuff done around the house and spend time with the kids. Since he's been needing new glasses for quite some time, I called our local Lenscrafters and made him an appointment for that day. They were part of our insurance company's network, so I knew we'd pay only a co-pay for the exam and get a discount on the glasses. When I went last year, my bill was barely over $100.*

Then he came home with a bill for nearly $300. He was charged $45 for the $50 exam -- only a $50 discount! His discount on lenses was not as much as I expected to be, and he went ahead and asked for some extra checkups as well. I called the place and was told that they were no longer an in-network provider for us, because of a change that happened in July.

Wow, I was mad. I cancelled the glasses order, and told the woman on the phone that I wanted her to waive the $50 exam fee. They told me to come in the next day and talk to the manager. That I did. First I asked for Epu's prescription, which he had forgotten to ask for. I figured I'd get that first, THEN argue about the exam fee so they couldn't hold the prescription hostage.

However, I saw the manager just as the employee was getting the scrip out, so I figured I'd better talk to him while he was free. As soon as he realized who I was, he told the woman that the scrip "wasn't ready to be released yet."

We discussed the problem for awhile. I told them we had been misled because no one told us they were no longer part of our network. He claimed that this had been explained to my husband three times. Well, my husband says that they told him what discounts he was going to get, but he did not understand this to mean that anything had changed.

Finally, when I threatened to cancel the charge through MasterCard, the manager agreed to reduce my obligation for the standard exam to the normal copay I would have paid before the insurance situation changed. Forty dollars back to me, and I got the scrip. I'll submit the other exams he got (he had a detached retina a few years ago and wanted to have it checked on) to the insurance company and try to get reimbursed.

And now, instead of paying $180 for glasses there, we get to order glasses from Zenni Optical instead. The ones he wants will be under $40, shipped. And those are some of the fanciest glasses they have. Instead of paying nearly $300 for the whole escapade, we'll be paying under $100.

* I'm aware that I could have saved money by just getting a prescription at the vision place and ordering my glasses online. However, I usually make a policy of ordering ONE inexpensive pair of glasses at the place where I get my exam, through my insurance discount plan. I figure they probably don't make money on the exams, and if I want these places to stay open so I can go there for exams and adjustments, I gotta spend at least a little money there. But all my presciption sunglasses and spare/replacement glasses, I definitely get online.


Becky said...

Good on you! That withholding the scrip thing is nonsense. I can't help but feel that all those places are running giant scam, especially after reading up on all those discount online glasses places. Did the scrip the gave you have the pupil-to-pupil distance or whatever it is?

Abby said...

Oh.My.Gosh. I HATE Lenscrafters. The EXACT same thing happened to us, only we weren't refunded the $100 or so we spent. I was furious. I went into the store multiple times only to be told I'd have to discuss the matter with the actual doctor. They gave me the run around for over a month despite my persistence in person and on the phone. I finally gave up and vowed they'd never have our business again. And they haven't. Good for you for sticking up for yourself!