Eye test without being forced to buy glasses

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
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  • tidustidus Forumite
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    Running costs for a high street optician vary, but I once calculated the break even cost of running my premises at about £150 an hour. Assuming no profit made from selling glasses that works out at about £70 per sight test. That's break even, mind, no profit.

    Consider that the NHS only pay just over £21 per examination for those entitled (about 65% for my patients) and private sight tests are about the same.

    Therefore you could argue that glasses are around £50 per pair more than they should be. But the NHS won't pay us any more, and if I put my private sight tests up to £70, i'd loose most of them to local competitors still charging £20.

    As increasing numbers purchase online (with variable results) the examination price will eventually go up, and we'll see more Opticians going fully "private". There's simply no other future.

    In the mean time, if you purchase online after taking advantage of an artificially cheap examination, be aware that we don't want to see you, you cost us money. I'll stop sending you reminder letters, make it difficult for you to book in, and rush your examinations! I've even refused to see repeat offenders before, you can waste somebody else's time.

    A fed up Optometrist
  • UndervaluedUndervalued Forumite
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    tidus wrote: »
    Running costs for a high street optician vary, but I once calculated the break even cost of running my premises at about £150 an hour. Assuming no profit made from selling glasses that works out at about £70 per sight test. That's break even, mind, no profit.

    Consider that the NHS only pay just over £21 per examination for those entitled (about 65% for my patients) and private sight tests are about the same.

    Therefore you could argue that glasses are around £50 per pair more than they should be. But the NHS won't pay us any more, and if I put my private sight tests up to £70, i'd loose most of them to local competitors still charging £20.

    As increasing numbers purchase online (with variable results) the examination price will eventually go up, and we'll see more Opticians going fully "private". There's simply no other future.

    In the mean time, if you purchase online after taking advantage of an artificially cheap examination, be aware that we don't want to see you, you cost us money. I'll stop sending you reminder letters, make it difficult for you to book in, and rush your examinations! I've even refused to see repeat offenders before, you can waste somebody else's time.

    A fed up Optometrist

    Now that is not professional ;)

    Yes, I sympathise to a large degree but this is the hole your profession is digging itself into with the lost leader business model.

    The £150 per hour running cost doesn't surprise me at all. If fact it is probably quite modest and most dentists budget their surgery costs at more. Although they do probably have higher running costs and more expensive equipment.
  • tidustidus Forumite
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    "Rush" probably isn't the right word admittedly... more like essentials only, don't expect me to be having a nice chat about the weather!

    You're correct the business model is the profession's own fault. Problem is it worked fine before the internet as nobody cared particularly where the income came from as very few people shopped around. Also the professionals aren't really in control any more, it's big business.

    In order to re balance and reduce the high street price for glasses you would need almost all Opticians to pretty much simultaneously

    1) Increase the private sight test fee
    2) Refuse to renew our NHS contracts without a better fee

    It's not impossible but would require the likes of Specsavers, Vision Express and Boots in particular to act as a team when they are competing businesses.
  • C_MababejiveC_Mababejive Forumite
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    I totally sympathize with the plight of Optometrists.

    I could go on to tell you about my optical issues but i shan't bore you unless you want me to,save for saying that when i'm in the chair,i suspect i am a complex case.

    I used to use CLs a lot but now not so much for reasons i wont bore you with but i always bought my CLs via my independent high street optom mostly because it seemed the right and fair thing to do and his prices were very very keen. He had realised that if he offered his own website ordering service and charged the same or close to the other websites, he would capture all his customers without any hassle. I'm sure he wasn't selling at a loss so thats another income stream.

    I also paid for a CL check up when i go and he would do an eye test on a green form as well.

    I'll admit i had to buy my specs from Asda but this was simply because he didnt have a model for selling specs that i needed at a reasonable rate and they were just horrendously expensive.

    He also had the usual fundus cam plus an OCT scanner which i gather a lot of optoms dont have. I'd recommend you have a go on an OCT scanner every few years as it can pick up problems before they develop.

    One thing i always noticed is that for an independent optom, he seemed to have, IMHO, too many staff hanging round the shop not doing very much a lot of the time.

    Staff costs are a big drain.

    And so i would say, support your local independent optom because very often, IMHO thats were you will get the best eye care.
    Feudal Britain needs land reform. 70% of the land is "owned" by 1 % of the population and at least 50% is unregistered (inherited by landed gentry). Thats why your slave box costs so much..
  • theGrinchtheGrinch Forumite
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    In the last 10 years. No optician has forced me after a sight test. They seem a modern breed and know you can shop around.
    "enough is a feast"...old Buddist proverb
  • kirtondmkirtondm Forumite
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    too many staff hanging round the shop not doing very much a lot of the time.

    Trouble is it is a very fluctuating business. You need to have a certain level of staff for the busy times but very hard to predict when they will be.

    It is a very hard business to staff efficently especially with a smaller practice.

    I would welcome a business model that seperated eyecare and spectacles the trouble is the british public is not used to paying properly for healthcare and the NHS will not fund it.

    I can see a lot of practices going private in the future.
  • No, what is wrong is a shop selling frames for £230 that are £70 online. Just frames, not including the lenses.

    That sort of mark-up isn't profit, it's extortion.

    You do understand they're £70 online because they're sitting in some warehouse and just need to be put together and posted.

    I've never bought frames for anything like that amount of money, personally, but it's market forces. If people weren't prepared to pay £230 they wouldn't be priced at that amount. Think about it.

    If you want £230 glasses frames for £70, you're wanting champagne at lemonade prices, which pretty much sums up what a lot of people are like now.
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  • edited 14 August 2018 at 3:12PM
    UndervaluedUndervalued Forumite
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    edited 14 August 2018 at 3:12PM
    You do understand they're £70 online because they're sitting in some warehouse and just need to be put together and posted.

    I've never bought frames for anything like that amount of money, personally, but it's market forces. If people weren't prepared to pay £230 they wouldn't be priced at that amount. Think about it.

    If you want £230 glasses frames for £70, you're wanting champagne at lemonade prices, which pretty much sums up what a lot of people are like now.

    Which is exactly how the majority of small opticians source their glasses, no doubt paying less still with their trade discount!

    The work is done in an out of town industrial estate then posted or van delivered each day to the opticians shop. Some larger opticians "manufacture" on the premises, either because they feel there is an extra profit to be made compared with shipping the work out, or because they feel they can get extra business by offering a same day service.

    One such out of town spectacle manufacturer / lab about ten miles from me now advertises extensively for "walk in" customers, just bring your prescription! Quite what the local optician's think, I don't know, but they still seem to use their services.

    To be honest the vast majority of "trade only" suppliers in most fields will deal direct these days. So it is no different.
  • Which is exactly how the majority of small opticians source their glasses, no doubt paying less still with their trade discount!

    That's not been my experience. I use an independent local optician and he makes the glasses up on the premises.
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  • edited 14 August 2018 at 4:02PM
    UndervaluedUndervalued Forumite
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    edited 14 August 2018 at 4:02PM
    That's not been my experience. I use an independent local optician and he makes the glasses up on the premises.

    Yes, some do but it is a minority.

    It is a bit like (in the old film days) whether a professional photographer would do his own developing and printing or send the work out to a commercial lab.

    If his requirements were very specialised he may opt to do it in house, even if it cost more. Or he may feel that by investing in more automated equipment he could earn some of the lab's profits too. But generally, if the work was fairly routine, the lab's economy of scale would make that the cheaper option.
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