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Independent practices are rated higher by consumers than multiples, according to a survey of over 6000 people carried out by consumer advice company, Which?

The survey asked members to rate their opticians on thoroughness of sight test, product quality, price, value for money, customer service and the store environment. Independent practices, who were grouped together in the survey results, received the maximum five stars for customer service, thorough sight testing, quality products and store environment.

Which? revealed that 65% of survey respondents buy their glasses at the same place where they get their sight tested, but noted that some practices are not rated equally in these areas.

The range of scores for sight testing was the widest with independents topping the chart at 91%, while the lowest rated multiple scored 59%.

Which? reported that multiples scored poorly on price and value for money, while online stores were rated well across the board for price.

A minority of Which? members have bought glasses online, with 46% of those that have purchasing from Glasses Direct.

Independents were scored alongside Asda Opticians, Boots Opticians, Costco, David Clulow, Dollond & Aitchison, Leightons Opticians & Hearing Care, Optical Express, Scrivens Opticians, Specsavers, Tesco Opticians and Vision Express.

Not always a ‘good strategy’

However, optometrist and professional advisor at the AOP, Henry Leonard, explained that the AOP’s Voice of Optometry survey revealed that patients who purchase their lenses somewhere other than where their sight test was conducted are more likely to experience problems.

“This may not always be the ‘good strategy’ that the report claims it to be,” Mr Leonard said.

He added: “Glasses are a bespoke item and finding the right solution for a patient’s needs is not always straight-forward. In particular, buying online can leave patients missing out, or even paying for additional features they do not need such as thinned lenses for low prescriptions.

“And while online suppliers may claim to be cheaper, that isn’t always the reality. As the optical profession knows, it is often better, as well as easier, to have glasses dispensed where the sight test is conducted, with the help and expert advice from the whole optical team.”


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