Lenscrafters and Costco try to upsell more expensive options

Getting the best value for your money when it comes to eyeglasses, sunglasses, eye exams, and contact lenses.

Postby neda » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:12 am

I'm sorry, I have to interject here. Both Lenscrafters and Costco doctors are impacted by the amount of glasses sold and the number of patients seen. I am an optometrist who was a manager at a Lenscrafters for 6 months, and I have worked as an optometrist for a Costco doc on her days off. At both settings, it is imperative that you "see as many patients as possible" and try to upsell to beat your goals from last year (there are bonuses involved). Now I don't think there is anything wrong with being a good businessman/woman, but when it impacts my patientcare abilities, I get a little miffed. I found it difficult to be a good doctor with the time restrictions placed on us for each patient. An eye dilation is recommended yearly for most patients, especially if you are a new patient at an office, but it was also discouraged at these locations so that we could fit more patients in. Btw Eyemed usually covers a yearly dilation (as do most other vision plans).
All in all, these locations are good if you want to get a quick pair of glasses but left your precription at home. Your eyes are important- please get a thorough evaluation done every year!

Postby george » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:21 am


I thought your comment warranted its own discussion. I appreciate your comments as it is great to get information from an optometrist. Your comments don't surprise me in regards to Lenscrafters, but I'm a bit more surprised to hear that Costco does this as well. Based on my experience at the two places, Lenscrafters definitely seems much more like an assembly line. A very smooth running one at that. I was able to get an appointment easily the same day, and there were multiple optometrists seeing patients simultaneously. I did feel they were trying to upsell the "optiscan" instead of doing a normal pupil dilation. The second time I went there, they also seemed to be pushing the Featherwates Complete lenses which are very pricey.

With Costco, there was just the one optometrist and I had to make an appointment a few days in advance. I didn't try to just walk in at the store, so perhaps they squeeze people in who just show up at Costco. It also had a little bit more of a feel that the optometrist was separate from the eyeglass counter. Perhaps that is just an illusion though. I didn't feel the optometrist at Costco was pushy at all with regards to the glasses. Also, there aren't as many options at Costco, as the anti-relfective lenses aren't that much more expensive. The only other option I can think of would be a transitions type of lens.

It makes sense that the optometrists try to see as many patients as possible, but I doubt that is much different in a private practice. Also, I would expect a private practice optometrist to also be motivated to "upsell" their products.

I found your comment about eye dilation interesting. At Lenscrafters, they really pushed to get the Optiscan which is a decent upcharge. My insurance (and I'm guessing most others) didn't cover it. They did a pupil dilation the second time I went to Lenscrafters when I declined the Optiscan. Insurance did cover the dilation. When I saw the eye doctor at Costco, she didn't dilate my eyes and didn't even ask about doing it. You are probably correct that this allows her to see more patients as she probably doesn't make that much additional money from the dilation compared to the extra time it takes.

I found a local private optometrist who takes my insurance, so I'm thinking of going there this year for my eye exam. I'll see how much the experience differs from the Lenscrafters and Costco.

I really appreciate you taking the time to post your thoughts. Thank you very much.
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Postby Krons » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:31 pm

Just to clarify here, I am an optometrist in Costco full time. I'm not sure what this first poster is talking about. Costco has no sales quotas for their optometrists. There is no "bonus" or payment made to the doctor by Costco in any shape or form. It is one of the most independent relationships I have seen in 10 years of practicing.

Obviously, Costco is hoping you'll purchase your contacts or glasses from them but there is no pressure on the doctor to prescribe something. The doctor is only paid by patient exam fees and nothing from materials. I usually tell patients to get new glasses if I think it will there vision and I always recommend getting them from Costco because their lenses and frames are at some of the best prices in the industry.

Postby george » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:06 pm


Thank you for sharing your experience. I found your description more in line with my experience at my local Costco. After all of my time reviewing options, I still think Costco is probably the best option for most people. I did not experience any pressure to buy more expensive options at my local Costco. Lenscrafters is a different story.
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Postby eyedoc » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:15 am

I am also an optometrist and I have worked in almost every commercial setting as a fill-in doctor and have had contracts at many of them including Costco as a full time doctor. I have also had my own private practice for 6 years. I have never been paid a penny for anything sold by the optical as a bonus or to fill a quota. Most of the commercial settings do encourage doctors to make recommendations for lenses but we are still 'independent doctors of optometry' and the quality of exam will vary just like it does in private practice. For a basic eye exam with dilation and visual field testing, there is no difference between the exam I give in private versus commercial practice, just the price. Doctors accept a lower price in commercial practice in exchange for a steady supply of patients to see and lower overhead than a private office. Some doctors play the corporate game better than others, but our number one concern is the visual health of our patients.

Postby Marketeer » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:19 pm

It would seem that the posters here are completely missing the point. Neither the Optometrist ("Eye Doctor") nor the Optician (lens technician) are true profit centers for Costco.

Just like the Costco food court and pharmacy, they just want to ensure the maximum number of visits by their members, to the warehouse, each week/month/year.

They virtually give away food and their low prices on glasses serve a similar purpose. Make you a loyal customer.

Costco optical departments have far fewer options available than do most chain or independent opticians.

Limited progressives, no digital lenses, only Transitions VI (No Xtractive, No Vantage, etc.)

AR Coating is limited to one generic (albeit a high quality one).

Typical independent can offer four different AR coatings in just the Crizal line alone (Easy, Alize, Avance, Sapphire) not to mention SunShield.

Last bumped by Anonymous on Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:19 pm.

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