About a year and a half ago I ordered some glasses from 39DollarGlasses.com, had a mostly bad experience, and gave them a less than glowing review here. To recap (there is, of course, much more detail in the original review), the glasses themselves were fine, but they took much longer than promised to get here. And (the real issue) the customer service response when I expressed by frustration about this was….indifferent at best. I never got any sort of explanation or apology, and that was really all I wanted (a refund for the extra money I paid for fast shipping would have been nice, too).
A lot of people who otherwise would have no interest in this blog wind up here searching for 39 Dollar Glasses reviews, and I’ve encountered a few ardent defenders of the company. So let me be clear: I am completely tolerant of mistakes and delays. I’m not the least bit tolerant of crappy customer service or dishonesty. As I told one person in a response to a comment, I think you can tell a lot more about a company by how they handle something going wrong than you can when everything goes smoothly.
But maybe bad service is just the trade off one must accept if one wants cheap glasses?
A lot of people left comments on that post reporting good experiences with Zenni Optical, so the next time someone needed glasses, I decided to give them a try and find out.
Disclaimer/Spoiler: Everything went smoothly with my Zenni order, so I didn’t get a chance to evaluate how they handle things when there’s a problem. Maybe the Zenni people went to the same customer service school as the 39 Dollar Glasses people and they would have behaved the same way. But there are a couple of other differences in my experiences with the two companies that I can talk about, too.
Dave and I are still happily wearing our 39 Dollar Glasses frames, and they’ve held up just fine. But Ari, being a youngster, has a rapidly changing prescription and already needed new glasses. We ordered a pair for him from 39 Dollar Glasses last time, but they didn’t really fit right (not their fault), so we wound up buying him a pair at Target. His new prescription was also from Target Optical, and I figured, since the frames were only a year old and he only needed one new lens, we could just pay for a new lens and be on our way. Right? Because it doesn’t make any sense to toss out a perfectly good pair of frames that I spent a lot of money on just because the prescription has changed in one of the lenses.
But the folks at Target regretfully informed me that that’s not how things work. Pricing is set up in such a way that it’s actually cheaper to buy totally new glasses than to have a lens replaced. It doesn’t matter if you want new frames or not; you MUST buy them. Says Target. And, I’m sure, pretty much all other brick and morter glasses retailers. I’m really not sure how they all stay in business when the price difference between them and the online places is so incredibly huge.
So we turned to Zenni. Ari wanted basic plastic frames, and Zenni had a nice selection of those. The website was easy to navigate, and the ordering process went smoothly. And then the glasses showed up 11 days after I ordered; I waited a week to write the review, so he could wear them for awhile first….no complaints. They fit fine and everything looks like it’s supposed to through them. So…..thumbs up, Zenni!
So how about a side by side comparison with 39 Dollar Glasses?
Ordering Process/Website: No problems with either company here. Both sites were easy to navigate, included the option to upload a picture of yourself for virtual trying on of glasses, and had clear instructions for ordering.
Price: Zenni has the edge here, for sure. Most of the glasses at 39 Dollar Glasses are, well….$39 (we actually picked a $59 pair for Dave). Zenni’s glasses start at $6.95. I found a $15 off each pair offer when we ordered from 39DG, bringing the price of a pair of basic plastic frames with lenses down to $24 plus shipping (I paid for upgraded 2 day shipping for 3 pairs; I don’t know what regular shipping for one pair would be). Ari’s basic frames and lenses from Zenni were $17.90 (plus $4.95 shipping). So the price difference is fairly small if you can find a discount code for 39DG, but Zenni still wins.
Shipping: Well, we already know who wins this one, right?
Zenni’s website says, “Standard shipping to a U.S. address should take about 2-3 weeks.”
39 Dollar Glasses’ site says, “Over 95% of all orders ship within 1-3 business days.”
I paid for standard shipping with Zenni and the glasses arrived 11 days after I ordered….3 days faster than the low end of the estimate on their website.
With 39 Dollar Glasses, I paid for 2 day shipping. My glasses took three full weeks to arrive.
Packaging: Both places sent the glasses with a nice array of accessories; hard cases, a cloth for cleaning. I believe 39 Dollar Glasses included a little repair kit and Zenni did not. Zenni sent the glasses in a cardboard box and then inside the hard case. 39 Dollar Glasses shipped in an unpadded cardstock envelope (glasses were inside the hard cases in the envelope).
The Glasses Themselves? As I’ve mentioned, Dave and I are both still wearing our 39 Dollar Glasses with no problems. At this point I can’t see any difference in quality between these and Ari’s Zenni glasses. So I’m calling it a draw for now.
So, in short, even putting aside the shipping and customer service issues with 39 Dollar Glasses (I’m sure the slow shipping is an anomaly and that most people won’t encounter it and thus won’t have reason to find out how lacking their response to complaints and concerns is), I give Zenni the edge simply because they’re a good bit cheaper for the same basic thing. Also because I just really don’t like 39 Dollar Glasses. I don’t think they’re very nice there.