New warning about buying cheap glasses online!

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New warning about buying cheap glasses online!
Image Credit: Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Zenni
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If you’ve followed money expert Clark Howard for a long time, you know that he’s long recommended buying cheap glasses online where prices for prescription lenses and frames can start at as little as $12.

But that advice comes with a new caveat…

Read more: 10 best places to get eyeglasses

Beware these ploys of bad online eyeglasses sellers

The New York Times recently ran a story about a man named Vitaly Borker who ran several cheap online eyeglasses sites including DecorMyEye and OpticsFast.

Back in 2010, customers of DecorMyEye said they were shipped cheap counterfeits in place of the designer eyeglasses they believed they had purchased. Online complaints and bad reviews only helped drive DecorMyEye further up in the search results for a period before Google’s algorithm was tweaked, according to the Times.

Naturally, those duped customers wanted to return the bait-and-switch goods they were sent. When they tried to do so, Borker responded with threats to stalk, maim and murder them. That bad behavior landed him a nearly four-year jail sentence in 2012.

Now, Borker is back out on the streets and allegedly back up to his old ways again — minus the threats of bodily harm.

The 41-year-old Ukranian immigrant is now facing wire and mail fraud charges related to his newest cheap glasses website, OpticsFast.

Customers of OpticsFast allege they were endlessly harassed by Borker when they wanted to return and get refunds for knockoff eyewear.

One customer said she was called 35 times a day after posting a complaint about a fake pair of Ray-Bans that arrived in damaged condition. The same customer also said she was called a “total degenerate” and “stupid, stupid lady” in emails back and forth with the company.

Another complainant says he was bombarded with 456 emails in a single day when he tried to generate a shipping label from OpticsFast to send glasses in for repair. Many of the emails had “I WIN!!!” as a subject line.

If  convicted on wire and mail fraud, Borker stands to serve up to 20 years in prison.

Good places to buy cheap glasses online and in stores

Just because there are bad actors selling cheap glasses online, it doesn’t mean you should skip the online shopping process entirely; you just have to know the good players and patronize them and only them!

These are the Top 10 places — both physical and online — to buy eyeglasses, according to Consumer Reports:

  1. Costco Optical
  2. Any independent eyeglass shop
  3. Warby Parker
  4. A private doctor’s office
  5. ZenniOptical.com
  6. Kaiser Permanente
  7. Opticare Eye Health & Vision Centers
  8. Eyebuydirect.com
  9. Sam’s Club Optical
  10. Walmart Vision Center

And don’t overlook 39dollarglasses.com, which came in 12th in the tally.

Where shouldn’t you buy your eyeglasses? Consumer Reports says the three worst places to shop include SVS Vision, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses and GlassesUSA.com.

Don’t forget your PD before ordering online!

If you plan on ordering your glasses online, you’ll need to get your vision checked by an eye doctor first to determine your prescription.

You’ll want to note your pupillary distance (PD) — the space between the center of your pupils, expressed in millimeters. Certain frames will not work with certain PDs because the center of the lenses will either be too wide or too narrow.

If your PD is already noted on your prescription, you are good to go. If it’s not noted, many doctors will provide this information upon request.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Eyeglass and Contact Lens Rules lays out certain rights and obligations eye doctors have to their customers. Regarding giving out PDs, the rules say the following:

“Many doctors don’t charge for the pupillary distance measurement. If your doctor charges for it, some online sellers will refund the cost.”

If you don’t want to risk paying out of pocket for your PD and not getting reimbursed in the end, check out Goggles4u’s DIY guide to calculating your pupillary distance.

Read more: 8 ways to get better dental care when you’re living on a fixed income

How to legally make your doctor provide your eye prescription

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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