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Two weeks ago, I had an eye test, and last week, I went to pick up my new specs.

I really like the way they look. But there's a problem: the prescription for the right lens is too weak.

Double trouble: I had the glasses made up by a different optician from the one who did the eye test.

My problem now is that I've been sold something which doesn't meet my needs, but I don't really know what rights or liabilities I have in this situation. The fault clearly lies with the lady who did the original eye test - but I only paid £5 to her for that privilege. Meanwhile, I spent a lot more money than that on having spectacles made up from her prescription, but the opticians who made up those spectacles did so on perfectly good faith, and I have no reason to believe they did anything wrong. Getting the £5 back for the original eye test won't really do much to off-set the cost of having the incorrect lens replaced, but it seems to me that I can hardly expect the second optician to absorb the cost of replacing it either.

Did I accept liability for this situation when I voluntarily chose to go to another optician to have the glasses made up? Or do I have any kind of protection against the consequences of having paid rather a lot of money for an incorrect lens? I surely can't be the only person who's ended up in this situation, but I haven't been able to bring up any very suitable advice by Googling. The best I could find was this, which is someone reporting the same situation - but I'm not at all clear that any of the people advising him(?) have any real expertise in the matter, or indeed whether their comments would apply in the UK.

Whatever happens, I really am going to have to get that lens changed. I've persevered, and given the new glasses five days to 'settle in', but the problem hasn't gone away, and it isn't something I can live with. I keep feeling as though my right eye has some kind of film over it, or my eyelid is drooping or something - anything which might explain the poor vision on that side. And I definitely wouldn't feel safe driving with the new glasses, either. When I drove to the supermarket on Sunday morning, I swapped back to my old glasses, and felt much happier. So if I am going to benefit from any of the money which I have spent on this new (much sexier) pair, I will in the end be forced to just suck it up and pay for a) a new eye-test and b) a new lens if I can't find any way to make anyone else pay for it for me.

And I don't know whether it makes any difference or not, but for the record, I am not hugely astonished that this is how matters have turned out. The lady who did the eye test said that my right eye had been being 'over-corrected' by my old glasses, and that this was something I wouldn't notice in terms of poor vision, as my eye could compensate for it. But the extent of the supposed over-correction was an entire diopter: from -4.5 in my old glasses to -3.5 in the new. I did think that was pretty odd, as my eyes have never done that before. My vision has been steadily getting worse and worse ever since I was 10 years old. Sometimes the rate of worsening has slowed, but it's never reversed itself.

But then again, I've never had an optician get a prescription wrong for me before, and I suppose I am starting to get into the age bracket now where presbyopia might start to kick in, and for all I know maybe that could manifest as a reduction in my myopia prescription? So I didn't try to challenge what she said. I just accepted it, and with enough confidence to take her prescription to another optician (who had much nicer frames) - the first time I've ever had glasses made up from a different optician than the one who did the prescription, in fact. Obviously, I wish I had spoken up now, but it can hardly be deemed my fault that I assumed a professional optician had got my prescription right, I suppose. The test all seemed very thorough and accurate when she was doing it.

Anyway, if anyone has been in this situation, or knows anything about what my rights are, please do comment. And if not, I guess I've just got more inconvenience and another hefty bill coming up...

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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2011 11:32 am (UTC)
What a total pain - I've never been in this situation but I've had various other glasses-related hassles and they're not pleasant.

Could you get the opticians who made up the glasses to give you an eye test, ideally as a freebie, and see if the results match up to the prescription you were given elsewhere?

I know some opticians get arsey about getting prescriptions from one place and glasses from another (because they're cross about people buying cheap specs on the internet), so you might be in for some trouble, I'm afraid.
Jun. 7th, 2011 12:28 pm (UTC)
I'll certainly be going back to the second opticians for a re-test. That'll be a necessary pre-requisite of getting the problem fixed, as otherwise I just have an incorrect new prescription, and two-year-old prescription which would be deemed too out of date to use. If they're prepared to do it as a freebie, that's great, but it's up to them I guess. Certainly, if no-one else knows any better, then I think my first step will be to go back to them, explain the problem (including my need for a new eye test), and ask for advice.
Jun. 7th, 2011 11:38 am (UTC)
No legal help but perhaps a cheap suggestion to fix it.

Lenses are cheap at that prescription. Would the original company who sold you the glasses be prepared to grind you a new lens on its own for those frames and send it to you? Then I guess you probably got the "light weight" and "anti glare" etc options which makes it more pricey. Also my experience is that high street shops charge ruinous prices for lenses (and worse for frames) though so you might be unlucky and still pay lots. There are various online "relensing" stores which will put new lenses in old frames. I don't know, they might do a horrible job but it might be worth trying and some offer refunds. Best of luck.

I can imagine how horrible it would be to have a prescription a whole diopter wrong -- there's a 1.5 difference between my right and my left eye and if I have my contact lenses in wrong it is horrible and dizzying.
Jun. 7th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes - I am entirely assuming that I can just get that one lens replaced, without having to buy a whole new set of frames and lenses from scratch. That would be normal practice, I think. But it would still cost me about £90 (including light weight, anti-scratch and anti-glare options). That's money I'd rather not have to waste on someone else's mistake.
(no subject) - steer - Jun. 7th, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Jun. 7th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 7th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
I would write to the company who gave you the eye test, explain what happened, and ask them to give you a new test and to replace the lens free of charge, or give you the money it would cost to have it done elsewhere.

I think they will agree to do this, but if they don't you could write back threatening them with the small claims court.

If you paid by card, your card provider might also be able to help.</i>

Edited at 2011-06-07 12:40 pm (UTC)
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is the only real chance I have of getting full compensation, I think. There's another problem with that route, though, which I didn't explain above. The optician who did the eye-test is the wife of my dentist, and they both practise from the same surgery. So if I go in there demanding compensation, I may then end up feeling awkward about bumping into the optician there every single time I go to the dentist for years into the future. Obviously some people wouldn't be bothered by that, and would just demand compensation anyway - but I'm very conflict-averse, and am wary of trying to go down that route unless I know it is an established and expected process in this situation. :-(
(no subject) - chrisvenus - Jun. 7th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 7th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
Do you have any sort of Citizen's Advice Bureau that you could ask about this? I checked their website but there isn't really much about that's relevant, but you might be able to ask them in person/via email.

Jun. 7th, 2011 01:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks - it's certainly something to try.
Jun. 7th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
I feel for: as I was worried I would be in the same situation as you just recently when I got new glasses.

In the end it turned out that the glasses had been prepared badly. They had the right strength lenses but one of them had the centre much further up than it should have been.
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
Weird - that must have been quite disorienting! So I guess you got the dispensing optician to correct them for you?
(no subject) - alexmc - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 7th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
A similar thing happened to me. I have to admit I just sucked it up.
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
I bet a lot of people do. And we've got four people now on this thread alone who've had a similar experience - so I bet it is happening, and being absorbed by consumers, all the time. Depressing!
(no subject) - mister_jack - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alexmc - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mister_jack - Jun. 7th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 7th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:05 pm (UTC)
I had something happen like that recently - went to Boots for the eye test, as I had a £5 voucher, then gave to to my regular optician to make into contact lenses, only to spend the next few weeks fumbling round and being essentially unable to read.

Turned out though that the prescription from the Boots eye test was right, and it was my optician who'd made the mistake (and of course corrected it free of charge).

So, I suppose my only advice is to get your optician to double-check that the specs they had made up for you actually do match the prescription you gave them. The mistake may be theirs.
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, I guess it's worth checking. But the difference in my experience of the new glasses compared to the old feels very much like it matches the difference in what is written on the two prescriptions - i.e. it feels exactly like my right eye does indeed now have a lens which is 1 diopter weaker than the old one. So I don't think it's very likely that the mistake lies with the dispensing opticians in this case. :-(
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Ah, thanks - the advice of a neutral optician would be really helpful here! In fact, it might even be worth me wandering into a random high-street optician, explaining what's happened without naming either practice involved, and asking how they would expect to handle the same situation.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 7th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
(This is not legal advice. It's comment from a lawyer.)

This is a case of what's called consequential loss; as a result of one breach of contract, you've suffered loss or damage outside the scope of that original contract.

You had a contract with the first optician by which, in return for payment, she provided you with a service (an eye test). The service should have been an accurate prescription, and you didn't get that, so there was a breach of contract. On the face of it, you should thus get your £5 back.

But that breach of contract meant that you then spent much more on a wrongly-prepared pair of glasses. Is the first optician liable for this?

For the last century and a half the English courts have examined questions like this in light of a case called Hadley v Baxendale, which concerned the failure to deliver an important piece of mill equipment that led to a much bigger loss for the customer.

What the courts held in Hadley v Baxendale was that when two parties make a contract there are two sorts of consequential losses that both are deemed to be aware of:

1) Those losses that flow naturally from any breach, i.e. it would be obvious to anyone that a breach of the contract could or would cause such losses.

2) Those losses that were specifically in the contemplation of both parties when the contract was made.

In other words, if someone breaks a contract it is open to them to say "but I had no idea - and could not reasonably have imagined - that my breach would have the results it did." There are two responses to this: firstly, that actually such losses were foreseeable (i.e this is really situation 1 above), or secondly that you told the other side about what the consequences of breach would be.

In your case, I would think that it would be fairly obvious that if you prepare a prescription then it is going to be used as the basis for making glasses. However, you might have to check the fine print. It may be that the first optician's terms of sale exclude liability for the cost of glasses prepared by someone else on the basis of the prescription. But that's a fairly onerous term and I'd have thought it ought to have been drawn to your attention in advance if it applied.

Hmmmm. You may have a valid basis for getting your expenses for the new glasses. It might be worth seeing if there is a solicitor near you that does free consultations (a lot do) and asking for formal advice.

Edited at 2011-06-07 01:26 pm (UTC)
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you enormously for this. I entirely take on board your disclaimer at the top, but it's very useful to know that this can be interpreted as an instance of a recognised form of dispute, with an established procedure for resolution.

I need to sort the situation out from a practical perspective anyway - i.e. have a new eye-test and get a new lens. So would I be right in assuming that as long as I keep all the relevant documents (the prescriptions, receipts etc), then I could pursue the issue of compensation after I have already had the incorrect lens replaced? After all, presumably I need to have proof that the original prescription really was wrong, in the form of a second opinion, before I can even claim back the £5 for the original eye test, let alone the cost of the new lens.
Jun. 7th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
I have no legal comment - but may I just say - oh my!
Jun. 7th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
I'd follow the advice above and get the second lot to retest your eyes to see where the problem stands

then contact the ombudsmen who deal with opticians. I think this is the right direction http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint/help-in-other-languages/?a=3425
Jun. 7th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks for the link - that's really helpful. It may be that the opticians will sort it out between themselves, but if not I will approach the ombudsmen. Cheers!
Aug. 16th, 2011 09:54 am (UTC)
Not legally helpful at all...
If that's you in the photo you've got very good skin!

Have you got any further with this? I could ask Gaius if you still need some help, gosh law is so important beginning to think I'll need to study it at some point
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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