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  1. #1
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    Default Where NOT to buy prescription glasses in the DR - Óptica Lopez

    You would think that with formidable online competition coming from prescription lens and frame vendors, Dominican opticians would be bending over backwards to ensure that their customers have the best possible experience and continue being willing to pay a premium for getting the advice and assistance of a real person when making a choice of prescription frames. Unfortunately, this seems to be another area where the DR has yet to catch up with 21st century retail realities. At least that's what a very bad experience at Óptica Lopez at Agora Mall has shown us.

    My wife was there last week to select frames for her new prescription for mild astigmatism. The women who assisted her was very nice, but my wife needed to ask her for each frame she wanted to see, and the sales person stood by waiting while she tried each one on (not impatient per se, but definitely hovering). For those of us used to buying frames in North America, where the sales people give you free reign over a vast room containing hundreds if not thousands of frames, leaving you be unless you ask for assistance, it's easy to see how that could be annoying and intimidating. My wife hasn't had the benefit of shopping at a N-A optician superstore, but she is very polite and doesn't want to waste anyone's time, so the constant presence of a sales person breathing down her neck made her rush to a decision and she settled on some frames, making a 3,000 DOP deposit. No sooner had she gotten home did she realize that not only where the frames grossly overpriced, they actually weren't what she wanted. By then the store was closed, but she called first thing in the morning, and that's when her ordeal with Óptica Lopez started.

    Work on grinding and cutting her prescription had not begun, so that was not an issue. She would have been quite happy to have been given a store credit for the deposit, and asked for 30 days grace so she could come in and take her time finding the frames she really wanted. A reasonable request if there ever was one, but no dice -- month end was only a couple of days away, said the manager of the store, and "we are forced by our accounting system to only offer credits within the month the down payment is received." To those of us familiar with accounting systems, this is of course utter nonsense.

    My wife then tried for a compromise: "grind the lenses to my prescription before the end of the month, but don't cut them to fit any frames until I've chosen some in a few days time. Use my deposit to pay for the un-cut lenses and various coatings". Again, no dice. "We can't do that". This time no lame explanation was concocted (other than "The Managers of the Company won't let us do that"), just pig-headed anti-customer stubbornness. To Óptica Lopez, it's worth alienating a customer if it means having to do nothing in return for a deposit. Money for nothing is how they see it, and why not if you have no concept of creating customer satisfaction or loyalty?

    So now we're launching a Pro Consumidor complaint against Óptica Lopez, for what its worth. In the meantime, please learn from my bad experience and stay away. Even if you don't change your mind 12 hours after making a deposit, I wouldn't trust those guys with doing a good job on a prescription -- all that dishonesty and money grubbing clearly takes up most of their attention and time. Customer service and producing a quality product comes a distant second, if at all.

    I'll post in the future to let everyone know how the Pro Consumidor thing goes.

  2. #2
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    Default Addendum - draft content of letter to Pro Consumidor

    An excerpt of the letter to Pro Consumidor follows. If there are any lawyers out there who can provide tips to improve the letter, I would be in your debt. I'm not certain that what Lopez did is illegal per se (my Spanish is not good enough to proficiently scan through Ley No. 358-05), but the letter draft assumes it is. Again, any advice is appreciated.

    .... introductory text .....

    1/ I was informed that a credit of only a couple of days could be given because of constraints within the accounting system used by Óptica Lopez, specifically that the system would not allow a credit to be transferred from one accounting month into the next. When I remarked that it was up to the accounting system to be in compliance with consumer protection law, not the consumer to be in compliance with the accounting system, I was told that that didn’t matter because the “owners of the company don’t let us do it anyway”.

    Observations: Óptica Lopez is using excuses regarding the limitations of their “accounting system” to mislead consumers. It appears that the real reason they are unwilling to follow standard deposit and sales credit practices is that their owners are not concern with complying with the law and are motivated purely by the desire to take advantage of trusting consumers.

    2/ I went to great effort to try to find a workable compromise. I proposed that they grind the lenses to meet my prescription needs before the end of the month, but leave them uncut until I had the chance to return to the store to choose new frames. I asked that they use my deposit to pay for the un-cut lenses and various coatings (which according to their own pricing, would cost in total less than the amount of the deposit, so I stood to still loose money). I was told that they would not do that. This time no explanation was offered.

    Observations: Lopez is unwilling to perform a lesser service in return for the amount that has been already paid to them as a deposit, even if the price of that lesser service falls within the amount of the deposit. No reasons were offered for this lack of corporation, leaving bad faith as the only explanation.

    In conclusion, Lopez has demonstrated a complete disregard for my rights as a consumer. They have lied to me with regard to why they will not extend a reasonable store credit to me, and they have refused to provide me with a lesser service for the money I have already paid them.

    Lopez appears to hold concepts of consumer rights and consumer protection in contempt – they believe that they can act with impunity, defrauding a consumer of their money without offering any products or services in exchange.

    I urge Pro Consumidor to support my complaint by proving to Lopez that complete disregard for a consumer’s rights, de facto theft of funds, and the violation of Dominican commercial law do indeed entail consequences.

    ....

  3. #3
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    Just out of curiousity, how long have you been living in the DR?

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    I don't, though my wife and adopted child do (they are Dominican). I live in Vancouver Canada. I have travelled there 16 times over the course of 3 years, spending a total of probably 9 months in country. Why do you ask?

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    This is unfortunately the type of thing we see on a daily basis. Employees at that level are not trained, authorized or willing to make those types of decisions. Anything having to do with giving a credit or giving money back varies from company to company but often is handled by the bosses, no if and or butts unless you're buddy buddy with the owner. Customer service employees simply do that they're trained to do, if that. Everytime I've changed my glasses here (about 9 times in the past 16 years), I've had to ask the employee to pass me each frame one by one, no free for all even when they see me year after year. Unfortunately in this country if they did it that way, they'd probably end up with a few pairs missing or broken at the end of each day. I'm not saying all this is correct or could not be improved on, it's just the way it is pretty much across the board in any store you go to, especially stores that do custom (for lack of better word) work like this. I feel for your wife but I honestly doubt she'll get anywhere with Pro Consumidor.

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    Thanks for your reply... I'm not holding my breath, to be honest. More curious to see what happens, and wanting to make the best of a bad situation by string up a bit of sh*t for Optica Lopez, although I have no illusions that my efforts will have any impact. I think you're bang on when you hint at the widening philosophical disconnect between the DR and the what those of us who have lived in industrialized economies have grown to expect in terms of customer service, and perhaps more importantly, employee training and -- dare I say -- "empowerment". But companies like Lopez had better get with the program soon or they will no longer be commercially viable in the near future, faced with websites that will now let you upload your picture to try on frames and offer free mobile phone apps to do the same. It's a shame that a locally-grown (I assume) company is too daft to see what is in its best interest, and too arrogant to listen to what its customers are saying. But that's been my overwhelming experience of the commercial and administrative elite in the DR, with some exceptions, of course: there is an especially potent combination of ignorance and arrogance which seems to dominate business culture (mixed with a liberal dose of corruption, of course). It's positively reminiscent of circa 1950-80 business culture in North America, just at a much smaller scale. But that's 35 years ago, and now we live in an age where curiosity and continuous improvement are most rewarded. It's true that as long as the trough is there, the pig pigs will have enough slop to feed on, but I think the trough is going to shrink to almost nothing over the next 5-10 years at the rate things are going (other than alcohol and tourism). There are a plenty of Porsche-driving big shots who have no viable/productive skills and would be unemployable anywhere else who had better go on diets soon. It's gonna get ugly I think.... (but that's a topic for another thread!). Thanks again for your input.

  8. #7
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    i like your writing style but please, use paragraphs

    the issue is exactly like katep stated, sales folks are afraid you will break something and they will be held responsible for it. hence breathing down customer's neck when they check different frames. and only the business owner can take decision in terms of money/credits. that's how it works.

    this is why i get my contacts and emergency glasses in poland. i always go to the same store. fantastic customer service too, they have, on occasions, sent my lenses to the UK and now to our po box in the states (my prescription is very strong and has to be ordered, they do not have that in stock). no additional charge for that.

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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ngpepin View Post
    You would think that with formidable online competition coming from prescription lens and frame vendors, Dominican opticians would be bending over backwards to ensure that their customers have the best possible experience and continue being willing to pay a premium for getting the advice and assistance of a real person when making a choice of prescription frames. Unfortunately, this seems to be another area where the DR has yet to catch up with 21st century retail realities. .
    You should've known better, don't expect too much.
    Why not get her prescription and buy in Vancouver, or online as you stated.

    Top Eyeglass store Ratings | Eyeglass store Buying Guide

    Frequently Asked Questions About Eyeglasses and Eyeglass Frames - AllAboutVision.com

    Should You Buy Eyeglasses Online? - AllAboutVision.com

  11. #9
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    Thanks for your input -- and I promise to use more paragraphs!

    As someone who has run businesses an business units ranging from small entrepreneurial to large mainstream, it's unimaginable to me that owners would want to be bothered with requests from their staff for permission to issues picayune $70 credits or reimbursements and the like (do they have to ask permission to go pee to? Probably!) That's an really extreme example of "fiddling while Rome burns" micro-management.

    If that is how most dominican privately owned companies are run, and I believe the contributors above when they say it is, then they are doomed -- no debate required. And they are already doomed, it's just a mater of time before they know it and feel it in their pocket books.

    The only thing that could save them now (other than reforming themselves quickly) is if the government started throwing up many many trade barriers to shelter them from international competition and the internet itself! That would come down to blocking shipments of glasses (in this example) or coming up with some grossly punitive tariff (like the one put on TVs!!) on every sector needing "protection". That kind of illiberal trade practice would result in the IMF refusing to lend the cash-strapped Dominican government any more funds, and that isn't going to happen.

    Canadian business had the same wakeup call in the 80's after Canada signed a Free Trade Agreement with the US (which morphed into NAFTA when Mexico joined in). I remember sitting in offices listening to businessmen (and they were men, mostly, and mad-men, many of them!) calling their lobbyists in Ottawa trying to get the government not to sign the FTA. Up until then they had had it good -- trade and non-trade barriers made it possible for them to bring half-assed skills into managing their businesses in half-ass ways. I remember others saying that they were not afraid of the "Big Bad American Wolf" and would go on with business as usual, because the world owed them continued success.

    I tracked the fates of three of the most outspoken of those reactionary types for a few years after the FTA came in to law. One committed suicide, and the two others declared personal bankruptcy. Of those two, one has since disappeared off of the radar, and the other has a very modest job today working for government, of all places. These were guys who enjoyed the high life in their days (big houses, fast cars, endless self-engradizement and enjoyment of prestige and status). And the FTA then was nothing like the threat that the internet poses to any owner-managed company today, not just in the DR, but anywhere in the world.

    How is it that the likes of Sr. Lopez (assuming that that is the owner's name) are not benefiting from the lessons of history? Is nobody telling them? Have they forgotten how to read? Is he waiting for the government to tell him how to compete?! Will they simply blame their employees for everything until the days there is nothing left? I don't get it.

  12. #10
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    To Bronze -- you're absolutely right -- all I can say is DOH!

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