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Be Seeing You - How To Find An Honest Optician

by Mark Cammack    August 11, 2019

A black and white poster image that says

Village Vision: Be Seeing You is a satirical image that represents a fictitious organization. The tactics and following experiences are real. If you want to be seen as a person and not a number, read on.

The advertisement read something like Save 10% With Coupon - Student Specials. I had been using a mild set of eyeglasses that were worn only on occasion. Sometimes contact lenses were also used rarely. They needed updating.

Many years ago as a student we looked for discounts. There was a lot to learn. We were being targeted by businesses, some of which had tricks up their sleeves.

The optician's office was in a major discount department store in Georgia. I went inside. They had many types of glasses on display racks. A middle-aged sales lady sat on a plastic chair behind a modest lightweight desk. I soon found out that she was the Number 3 person there. When I inquired about cost, my question was countered with,"Do you have any coupons?" She did not immediately answer my inquiry and no price tags were to be seen on the eyeglass displays. "Yes, here it is," I replied. The situation did not feel right. It was as though I was only a number.

Instead of a fixed price, I was told it could vary depending upon the type of eyeglass lenses, frames, and any special glass treatments. While that seemed plausible, you had to be careful. A questionnaire was brought out and this sales technique is still used today. It is designed to load up the customer with as many added features, expensive lenses, and frames and services as they will tolerate. Here are some sample questions and conversation similar to the way it went:

"Do you use a computer?" the sales lady asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"We have glare reduction for that ..." she said while checking a box on the form.
"Do you go out in the sunlight or drive a car?" she quickly continued.
"Yes," I answered.
"Then you need automatic tint lenses," she stated as she checked away.
"Do you ever take off your glasses and set them down?" she asked.
"Yes," I said.
"You will need scratch resistant lenses," came the reply as a check-box was stroked by the pen.
"You are a student, right?" was the next rapid fire question.
"Yes," I said again.
"We have the Number Six Featherweight Frames that are good for students..." she stated while marking another box.

The entire inquisition is planned. It is designed to go fast for a quick sale. The idea is to prevent the customer from thinking while being conditioned to respond the way the questioner wants. Of course, it does not always work but it does work enough of the time that it is still used.

While trying on frames I insisted upon a less expensive set to their disappointment. When obtaining the contact lenses, I thought the two little glass bottles with rubber stoppers they came in would work well with my chemistry set. Since I was paying for them, and they were to be thrown away, I kept them. The manager was a tall thirty-something fellow with dark hair. He was the Number 2 person. He became upset.

"If you are thinking of keeping those to get the prescription filled somewhere else, it won't work!" the manager fumed in a rural Georgia way.
"They are for my chemistry set. Your manner is not very nice," I replied.
The sales lady chimed in,"He thought something else. Most people don't keep their bottles."
"I am already paying for them," I conveyed as things settled.

The optician was an older average looking fellow and relaxed. He was the Number 1 man in charge. He had provided an exam and now a contact lens solution. My eyes within days became red and dry. Sleep was difficult. I saw him again and expressed concerns over the new product.

"You're probably just not drinking enough water," he advised nonchalantly.
"I get plenty of water. This only happened after using the new solution," I replied.
"Just try drinking more water," he said with continued indifference.

The situation continued. I found out that thimerosal, the preservative in the contact lens solution, contained mercury. Other people had reported similar issues. The mounting evidence against mercury in medicine was gaining momentum. When not using the product, things became better but not perfect. Mercury can cause tissue damage that takes time to heal. An ophthalmologist was later seen and he recommend no further use of contact lenses.

A strange thing occurred years later while taking a vision test without glasses. This was in Florida. They were nice and had a sunny disposition.

"Are you wearing contacts?" the pleasant lady asked.
"No," I responded. She peered into my eyes to confirm it.
"Well, your vision is fine. You just read the eye chart perfectly. You don't need glasses," she happily pronounced.

Where you go and the people you meet can make a lot of difference. Whoever and wherever you are, you want to be treated well as a person and get the best value for your dollar. Here are the things to look for:

1. Are prices openly posted for products and services? If not, is there a handy reference chart that has them?

By openly listing costs, there is nothing to hide. Be aware that it is possible to have more than one price reference chart lurking in a desk drawer. They can have different prices for different people or companies that do business with them.

2. Be leery of coupons if you are not told the cost first. The reason is because a dishonest business may not be giving you any discount at all. It can be a trick just to get you in the store. You might arrive and be asked if you have a coupon before the fees are stated. In reality, you may be paying the full amount or even overpaying. If the salesperson will not give the price first, leave immediately.

3. Be your own checkpoint for checklists: By being your own financial border guard and not letting unneeded charges through the checkpoint, you can save lots of money.

The checklists into cash technique in fancy terms is incremental compliance with false bifurcation. This over-the-top phrase means that the questions start innocently enough such as with your name and what you do. They gradually turn into a yes or no quiz that is designed to get you to answer simple questions in the affirmative. The trick is that you are honestly answering but not agreeing to purchase the super-duper lenses, frames, and services with all the extras. The salesperson acts as an assumed authority which they are probably not. They are in sales. This technique is designed to make the purchase choice for you to pad their pocketbook.

No one can sell you something without your consent. To turn the situation around, ask them questions or use statements like: Why do I need that? Why should I buy something I won't use? I don't want it. I am on a budget and this amount is the limit.

If the situation is really bad, the word STOP! tends to work well. If they continue after that, walking out is appropriate.

The best thing to do is to observe other customer interactions first. If you see the checklist into cash technique being used, go somewhere else. A good business is helpful and sells the customer only what they need.

4. Searching for business reviews and shopping around can also help. Read the ingredient listings on products and make sure nothing is toxic or can cause a problem. These can change over time. A little bit of research can save you a lot of difficulty later.

I hope these experiences and tips help you to be seen as a person and not a number.

Be seeing you,

Mark Cammack


Village Vision: Be Seeing You is © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.

Some public domain components were obtained from:

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© Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.