Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fuzzy Vision

I haven't posted a customer service rant in a while, but today's excitement is a doozy. I got new glasses last week. I love them, but they seem to have blurred the letters in my mid-range vision, a.k.a. my computer screen, where I spend many hours every day working with happy obsession on my new book. The visual fuzziness, which disappears completely if I wear my old glasses, was still bugging me after three days with the new ones, so I made an appointment for a prescription check at the "vision center" where I had my eyes examined and bought the glasses.

The appointment was this morning at 11:30. I arrived at 11:25 for what I imagined would be a 15-minute thing (the original exam having taken only a minute or two longer than that). I signed in and sat patiently for 15 minutes, impatiently for 15 more, and then went up to the receptionist and asked how much longer it might be. I wanted to have a little tantrum, but I kept my goal in mind and instead reminded her politely that I'd indicated when I made the appointment that I had to be on my way by 12:15. Neither she nor any of the teen-aged "optical assistants" (well, they're probably in their 20s, but you couldn't tell that from their general callowness or their styles of dress, speech or professionalism) had any idea either when the doctor might be available or how to go about discerning that fact.

I agreed to wait another 10 minutes until 12:05, despite my strong sense that I was throwing good time after bad. Sure enough, the doctor didn't appear and no one, as far as I could tell, attempted to prompt her or find out what was going on behind her closed door. At 12:08, I requested my glasses back so I could be on my way. The receptionist said she could guarantee I wouldn't have to wait if I rescheduled for first thing in the morning or "right after the doctor's lunch." I did so, then asked if the optometrist was running so far behind because people had arrived late for their appointments. "Oh, no," the receptionist said smugly. "If people are more than 10 minutes late, we require that they reschedule."

So the deal is that if I'd walked in 11 minutes late, I would have been booted, but these jokers have no problem keeping me waiting for 45 minutes or more without apology or explanation.

This is so wrong on so many levels. First, let's get real about what kind of business this joint is in. It's plainly about selling $700+ pairs of glasses rather than $35 eye exams. We're not patients in this setting. We're customers. Being made to wait for a doctor is stupid, especially in a city where you can get any cosmetic enhancement you might desire - new glasses, new teeth, permanent makeup, a fake tan, better
body parts, etc. - on practically every corner.

Second, come on! What possible reason could there be for the delay? I can understand having to wait for an orthopedic surgeon or an obstetrician, but an optometrist?? It's hard to imagine an optometric emergency. And I know from my medical professional husband that being made to wait for medical professionals is largely bullshit except where said professionals have to handle unexpected emergencies. Doctors' offices can easily avoid delays simply by scheduling sufficient time per appointment and not double-booking.

So the vision center's got it wholly backward. They're double-booking the optometrist (where they make little money) and backing up the selling and fulfillment of glasses (where the big bucks are). In the process, they're driving away the customers they're lucky enough to have. Their vision is fuzzier than mine!

1 comment:

kim said...

it amazes me how these places stay in business.
my boyfriend gets his glasses here: http://zennioptical.com. if you know your prescription, you can order glasses there without the ridiculous markup.