Friday, October 18, 2013

STOP-tober 18th: New Glasses Half Price

Even though The STOP-tober Challenge is to stop spending money in October, life inevitably goes on and we've spent a week in London with my folks. When my nephew was born 13 years ago no one could have foreseen that his Bar Mitzvah would fall punkt in the middle of The STOP-tober Challenge. I have kept my spending down and remarkably so, although mostly due to the generosity of Grandma and Grandpa (more about that later).

New glasses for me are part of a saga. Readers living in Israel will recognise this drama - I could almost call it a tragedy - only too well. For everyone, I urge you to read on, we have a happy ending...

About three years ago I went to my local optician in Jerusalem and was told that I needed reading glasses. I stuck my head firmly in the sand and went about my business as usual. Over the next year I noticed three things. 1) I, an avid reader, had stopped reading for pleasure as it was no longer comfortable. 2) I was zooming in for larger and larger print on my laptop. Let's face it, three words per screen view is ridiculous. And 3) I couldn't read the ingredients on food items in the supermarket. I was fed up of having to raise my glasses and squint in order to see the sugar content and E-numbers.

At the time I didn't realize exactly how expensive this would be to rectify. As I couldn't afford the luxury of comfortable vision, I asked my parents to pay for the glasses as my birthday present. How sad is that, that your parents have to buy you specs for your 49th birthday?

In the end I bought one pair of multifocal glasses with the cheapest frame that looked decent and one pair of sun glasses (also with a cheap frame) with just the distance lenses. They threw in reading lenses on an old frame that I provided. The whole package came to about 4,500nis (at the time this was about £750). I put it on my UK credit card and the bill came to my parents. I think 'shocked' would be an appropriate word here.

"Next time do it here at Fastlens," said my mother. Since then I've spoken to various friends in Israel who need new glasses and just can't afford them. One friend, a family man with a good job and a working wife, described it as one of the most upsetting experiences of his life. "I'm not talking about a luxury holiday, a car, or private school fees. It's a pair of glasses so I can see, for goodness sake (he may have used stronger language). I'm 40 years old, and I can't afford the basic necessity of a pair of glasses so that I can see!"


Quick selfie of new glasses. Sorry no make-up and forgot to smile.

Last week I went into the opticians in Jerusalem and had an eye test. I bought my prescription for 200nis (about £36) as I wasn't buying glasses from them but needed to take the prescription away with me. In the interests of research and because they were eager to show me how reasonable their prices are, I was offered one pair of multifocals with thin lenses at 3,900nis (£696) plus the cost of frames which start at 400nis (£71) but realistically wouldn't cost less than 600nis (£107). They 'generously' said that a pair of sunglasses for distance only, was included in the price. So that's about £803.

Here's what I did. Two return flights to London from Tel Aviv with Easyjet came to just over £700. On Monday morning I took my prescription into Fastlens in Edgware and ordered one pair of good quality, thin, multfocal lenses at £250 and a frame for £40. As we were coming to London anyway for the Bar Mitzvah, I paid £290 pounds for my glasses plus the £36 pounds for the prescription = £326 (1,826nis) in total, instead of about £803 (4,497nis). They were ready to collect by Friday morning.

If you're thinking about the free sunglasses and reading glasses I got last time I did spectacle business in Israel, I've never worn those reading glasses even once. The multifocals were fine for reading, even in bed.

In return for naming my optical heroes and linking to their website, Fastlens made me a pair of distance sunglasses (worth about £65) free of charge. I was going to write this post anyway just without mentioning any names. That would have been a shame though as I am more than delighted with this whole process especially as it's something I'm likely to have to do every few years for the rest of my life.


16 comments:

  1. Brilliant - you get free sunglasses, they get proper advertising - the actual word-of-mouth kind that really does count for something. That does sound like a happy ending to me :o)

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    1. Yes, I think it's a good bargain for both sides - even if it does make me a blagger. :)

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  2. I am still burying my head in the sand about this - when I can see it! Actually I am okay with glasses, the problem is when I wear my contact lenses on a night out and I cannot then read anything - even text messages on my phone... Am seriously considering surgery

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    1. I'm not sure I would risk surgery on my eyes if it's not necessary. Having said that, my dad had to have cateracts removed and they gave new lenses. After 60 years of wearing glasses he now only needs them for reading.

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  3. as a life long (well almost) glasses wearer i thought that glasses in the uk were expensive until i read this post... have just spent in the region of 350 on 2 pairs of glasses and was rather taken a back but £800... omg! and as for eye laser thing - not so sure - my friend who is a vitrio-retinal (eye) surgeon had his done and we watched the video of the procedure.... mind you, he must believe in the process to go under himself!

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    1. I'm totally with you on the surgery. And I will not be paying £800 again!

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  4. I can't compare to Israel, but I used to use the local frum optician because "it's so convenient". Except it wasn't so convenient because he often wasn't there during posted hours. I finally (about 10 years too late) switched to Costco (massive warehouse store) and was chagrined to realize I'd been overpaying for glasses by 50-100%.

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  5. I have reading glasses but I buy the off the peg ones, my perscription is easy 125+ whatever that means, anyhow they sell those in Wilkos for 4.25 and I have a 100+ pair from poundland.
    I find it so strange that glasses can be so cheap and so so so expensive. I could easily have spent 80 quid on the same at the opticians.

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    1. I think if you have a simple long or short sightedness you can get cheaper glasses in places like you mentioned. When you have an astigmatism and/or need varifocals then it becomes more complicated. Also if you have a different number for each eye. I wouldn't be able to buy my glasses in poundland.

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  6. Anyone considering surgery should bear in mind that it is not permanent. I keep hearing of more and more people who had it done a few years ago and now need glasses again (not for reading).
    BTW, as someone with a low enough prescription that I don't need bifocals or multifocals, I buy my reading glasses from Rami Levy for 10 shekel!

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    1. Good to know, thanks Gillian. The Rami Levi option is only for people with no other sight issues though.

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  7. Top tip for next time you are in the UK Rachel:
    Go to a posh opticians in IL and try on all the expensive frames - find ones you like and note the code No and size
    Go onto the internet and buy the frames only from a godo website. there are loads to choose from (you can do this from home before you come here)
    Book a free eyetest from an optician in in Tescos (you can book it online before you leave IL)
    You will get a copy of your perscription from them for FREE
    Go to Fastlens
    Get them to make and fit the lenses
    Voila - posh designer spex at half the price you would pay anywhere.
    x

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    1. Thanks Richard. Sounds like a plan. I agree that my way could be fine tuned a bit. But why do e.g. tesco give you an eye test for free when you are not buying glasses from them?

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  8. How much???? That's unbelievable..... I am shocked, nothing else to say. X

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    1. You my parents (who paid for the first pair) both. It would have been cheaper for me to go to England for the weekend and buy a pair there.

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