It’s the nation’s largest optical store chain, and it had a secret. At least until KGW obtained an internal company memo. Turns out those expensive new glasses you just purchased might have already been worn by another customer.
Dr. Robert Forbes has just started a new optometry practice in Happy Valley, but for more than a decade, he leased office space from the LensCrafters store inside Clackamas mall. He says he left because of what he calls distasteful new business practices inside LensCrafters.
“They announced they were going to take the glasses being returned from 30 day warranty and they were going to put them back on the shelves again,” said Dr. Forbes. He claimed those previously worn frames are now being sold as new at full price without any disclosure to consumers.
“I think it’s unethical and I think the patient should have the opportunity to know they are buying a used pair of glasses,” said Forbes.
KGW obtained an internal document from LensCrafters that appears to support those allegations. It was from a LensCrafters employee who wishes to remain anonymous. It’s to LensCrafters stores and field management from store operations. The memo is dated April 30th 2009 and talks about the company’s new frame recovery program.
The memo says “frames that have been briefly worn by a customer and are deemed like new should be returned to retail stock at full price.”
It explains the company’s new frame recovery program. Also, according to the memo, even blemished frames are also put back on the shelves and resold at a 30 percent discount. Nowhere is there anything about notifying the consumer that the frames are used.
Dr. Forbes thinks that’s unethical. In addition, he also believes the used frames being sold as new are not properly sanitized. He said that brings up possible health issues.
“Bacterial agents can survive on surfaces if you’ve got someone with a skin condition or herpetic eye condition or something that’s a transmittable disease it can be transmitted on the frame,” Dr. Forbes said.
Local LensCrafters managers would not answer questions; instead they referred KGW to their corporate officials in Ohio. The director of LensCrafters corporate communications department e-mailed us this statement.
“We consider our internal policies proprietary and do not discuss such policies outside of our business. We ensure that all frames sold at LensCrafters are of superior quality.”
LensCrafters is owned by Luxottica, a leading manufacturer and distributor of prescription frames. The company has a long history of donating used glasses to those who desperately need them.
Dr. Forbes traveled the world with LensCrafters charitable programs.
“I was very involved in the gift of sight program and I’m a big believer in it. Unfortunately, some of the nicer frames being resold are not making it into the program anymore,” said Forbes. Instead, it appears, those nicer used frames that once helped the needy, are now being resold in LensCrafters stores as new.
According to Oregon state statutes, it’s unlawful to represent that goods are new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used or second hand.
Following our investigation, LensCrafters responded with the following statement: “Like many retail businesses across the country with long-standing return policies to meet customers’ needs, our policy has undergone changes. We understand there has been confusion regarding this issue.
All LensCrafters employees have been informed that no eyewear that has been dispensed to a customer can be resold without informing the customer that the frame was previously returned.”