Every day, consumers come to us about companies that just aren’t treating people right. In this case, we got lots of consumer complaints about one eyecare company, My Eyelab. It looks like there’s a large gap between what they lead consumers to expect and what they actually get. Read on for the full story from TrustDALE’s Inside Investigations.
A Surprising Exam and a Low-Quality Product
Our first complaint came from Audrey Behari McGee. Ms. McGee needed new glasses, so she decided to try out a recently-opened My Eyelab franchise in her area. She booked the eye exam online and came to her appointment expecting to see an optometrist. Instead, she quickly realized that this would be no ordinary eye exam. Instead, this was a telehealth exam with a doctor on a screen, giving her a full eye exam. Many optometrists and doctors feel that a telehealth visit is insufficient to catch and diagnose eye problems. Still, Ms. McGee just assumed this was how it was being done and accepted the unusual exam.
After her exam, a retail associate took her prescription and helped her pick out frames. She was told the glasses would be ready in two weeks. But after two weeks, she was told the order had been delayed. When the glasses finally showed up, one pair was cracked, and another didn’t work correctly. After many weeks and four more tries, Ms. McGee still didn’t have glasses that worked or fit. So she asked for a refund. But that’s when things got sticky.
The sales associate told Ms. McGee that she could not receive a refund because the glasses were a custom order. Of course, when you order prescription glasses, every order is a custom order, so it seemed odd that the store couldn’t provide a refund for that reason. Even worse was the fact that their website advertises a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.
The website reads, “If you are not completely satisfied with your frame(s), we will gladly restyle them at no charge for any other equal or lower-cost frame in our inventory or refund your full purchase price for the goods. [And in a note:] Purchase price of the frame and lenses will be fully refunded.”
So, where was Ms. McGee’s refund? The website was clear that the lenses, obviously custom-made, were also eligible for a refund. But it turns out that My Eyelab had a sneaky way around that guarantee.
When Ms. McGee initially told the sales associate that she was not satisfied with her glasses, the associate encouraged her to take the glasses home and just try wearing them for a couple of days to see if she adjusted. All Ms. McGee had to do was sign out and take her glasses home. What Ms. McGee did not know is that buried in the fine print of what she signed was a statement that she was completely satisfied with her glasses, even though she was told to take them home just to try them out and bring them back if she wasn't happy.
Dissatisfied we how she had been treated, Ms. McGee decided to research My Eyelab to see if anyone else had similar problems. She found over 300 complaints on the South Florida Better Business Bureau, all similar to her experience. Customers complained of faulty products, improper exams, and dishonest refund policies.
Most customers went into the eye exam expecting to see an optometrist. Nowhere on the MyEyelab website does it mention telehealth. So when they show up and find out that they will not be seeing anyone in person, they feel duped and let down that they are getting substandard care.
Customers are also surprised to learn that despite the large signs in their stores offering free eye exams, My Eyelab actually does not perform eye exams. According to a small note on their website, “My Eyelab is not an eye care provider and does not provide eye examinations. Your examination will be provided by an independent eye care doctor.” Of course, there is no doctor on-site—only a screen with a doctor who cannot do an in-person assessment.
We reached out to Now Optics, My Eyelab’s parent company, to see if anyone would talk to us. But they would not agree to an interview. So we went to the company headquarters in Palm Springs, Florida. The front of the building is a retail store, selling glasses like any other My Eyelab franchise. The offices are in the back, and no one would go back there to get someone to talk to us. But we don’t like to leave a consumer in the lurch. So we reached out to my Eyelab and Care Credit, and we were finally able to get the cost of the glasses refunded into Ms. McGee’s Care Credit account.
But that leaves hundreds of consumers who have commented on the BBB website and possibly hundreds more who have been misled but didn’t go online to report it. At the moment, they can feel satisfied that they have helped raise awareness, and they will keep other people from being tricked like they were.