You might want to take some of the five-star reviews of this business with a grain of salt. More on that later.
But first, let’s take a moment to imagine an experience you had in a restaurant. You read the online reviews and were looking forward to a great dinner. To avoid a possible wait, you made a reservation. You arrived on time, but you weren’t seated for an hour. When you finally got a table, a very nice waitress greeted you and took your order. While you waited for your food to arrive, you noticed a placard on the table that offered to enter you into a drawing for a free meal if you wrote an online review. So, you took out your phone and proceeded to do so. What did you have to lose? After a somewhat long wait of a half hour, the food arrived but it was not the meal you ordered. The waitress apologized and said she would go back to the kitchen and ask them to rush the right meal. A half hour later, a smiling waitress delivered the correct dish. As you peered down on the plate, you noticed a long black hair in the food, so you summoned the waitress who once again apologized and assured you that a new meal would be on its way momentarily. A half hour later, your meal arrived, and everything seemed fine until, upon taking your first bite, you found the food to be cold. After almost three hours you were hungry, exhausted and stressed so you ate it anyway. You assumed that because you encountered so many problems, the restaurant would make your meal complementary. Then the check arrived. Being tired and not wanting to make a scene, you went ahead and paid it. Then you went home and wrote another review.
Now, here’s my review:
On a recent trip to California, I found a great (and expensive) pair of frames to hold the glasses that I knew I was going to need soon. Being new to North Carolina, I went online to search for a place to get my eyes checked and have my inevitable prescription filled. I was impressed with the sheer number of positive reviews I found for Vision Square when compared with other optical businesses. I made my appointment and, like you in the restaurant, I showed up on time but had to wait for an hour to see the doctor. I wasn’t too upset though, since getting my eyes checked by a good practitioner is worth far more than an hour’s time. While I sat in the waiting room, I noticed a sign that promised to enter me into a weekly or monthly drawing (I don’t remember which) to win a free pair of sunglasses if I wrote an online review. Now I understood why Vision Square had so many more reviews than its competitors. Online review sites like Google and Yelp frown upon businesses that offer compensation of any kind to customers who write reviews since they compromise the integrity of the review site in general.
To be fair, I was very impressed with Dr. Heidi Martin. She was professional and took the time to explain exactly what was going on with my eyes and what I could look forward to in the future. Ditto for the other staff who, with only one exception, were very friendly and accommodating.
After my appointment, I was walked into the store where I would order and pay for my new lenses. And that’s where the problems began. My first visit was pleasant enough. One of the two women who worked with customers marked my frames at the points where the centers of the progressive lenses should be. Before leaving, I went to the desk where a very friendly woman took my payment and complemented my frames.
It was all downhill from there. Two weeks later, I received a call that my glasses had arrived. I went to pick them up, but when I put them on everything was distorted and I felt an immediate headache coming on. It turned out that the lenses were cut wrong and the center was too high. What should have been my distance correction was instead my reading correction. I remembered where the dots were originally placed on the lenses, so I know the mistake wasn’t the fault of the store. The frames were returned to the lab to be redone and I was told that because it was a re-do, the lab would be asked to rush my order. Two weeks later I received another call that my glasses were back. The initial problem had been corrected but now, the frames had not been reassembled properly and the trims were out of alignment. So, back to the lab they went. Again, I was told that a rush would be requested and, again, it took two weeks to get them back. However, this time they returned as they went out and the trims were still not lined up. When I pointed it out to one of the women in the store, I was told that she didn’t know what else they could do. That’s when I did something I almost never do; I lost my temper.
Rule #1 for customer service: Never break something that belongs to your customer and then tell them that there’s nothing you can do to fix the problem.
Fortunately, the other woman who works in the store was there. Her name is Brenda and I am naming her because she deserves to be recognized for her calm demeanor and the nice the way she treats customers. She took the frames and said, “Let me see what I can do”. After fiddling with them for a few minutes, she fixed the problem. So away I happily went, glasses on my nose. When II got home I looked at them in the mirror. One frame was round and normal but the other took on the shape of an egg. So, back I went to the store where I was told that the lab had cut one of the lenses wrong and that, rather than re-cutting them, forced the lens into the frame, thus distorting its shape. For the third time, back to the lab they went and for the third time I was told that a rush would be requested and for the third time they came back two weeks later. Unfortunately, the damage done to the frames could not be completely repaired and, although it’s less apparent, the egg-like bulge is still there.
Apparently, the problems I faced are not that uncommon. I was curious as to why I was having so much trouble with the lab they used so I did a little research online. The name of the lab is Southern Optical. Here’s a sampling of what I found, written by their own employees:
“Chaotic and very unorganized, people are overworked and stressed out which causes a hostile work environment, management is very unorganized and undertrained.”
“…it’s a very negative environment they will do anything to fire any employee if they don’t like them especially the General manager he is very rude and disrespectful.”
“They work you like a dog. Don’t work here if you can help it. They have one supervisor for 3 shifts and thats bc they can’t keep anyone.”
“There wasn't a strong sense of professionalism among employees because they weren't necessarily trained in healthy workplace habits when brought in.”
“They are a not very organized place to work and they give a lot of promises that they do not keep they do not provide the proper training to there employees.”
“The management was horrible and disorganized.”
“the management department was never their for help or support I was always alone and on my own. Worked in 3rd shift so i was never able to communicate with no one.”
“Training was so unorganized & management was not reliable.”
So, here I am after two months, just like you, exhausted and stressed. The glasses are still not right but, as was the case with your cold food, I just want this whole ordeal to be over. I am going to deal with the glasses as they are. Like you, I’ve paid my bill and have not received any offer of a refund for the aggravation I’ve had, the poor workmanship of their lab and the damage that was inflicted on a very expensive set of frames.
And just like you, I’ve written this review. Who knows? Maybe I’ll win a pair of sunglasses!