May Heaven help us, because 1-800 sure isn’t going to. I promptly wrote the following E-mail to Dr. Patel, Wal-Mart’s Director of Professional Relations:
Tags: 1-800, Check Yearly, contacts, Wal-Mart
I would advise against any kind of alliance with 1-800 CONTACTS. You’re not the first one to try. Standard Optical, a Utah-based optical chain, aligned with this Utah-based contact lens reseller for a while, and it didn’t last long. You should talk with those in the know about why it didn’t work out.
1-800 is also militant about teaching the general public to force the doctor to make decisions not in their best interest. Everyone inside our industry acknowledges that yearly eye exams are important, but 1800’s own website indoctrinates consumers to mandate to their doctor that prescriptions should expire at the two year mark OR LATER. (see: http://www.1800contacts.com/docAndRx/DocRx-release-1.shtml ). As a Utah eye doctor, I already suffer with practicing in the only state in the nation with a minimum 2-year contact lens expiration date- thanks to 1800’s lobbying power in our Utah legislature.
I had a patient last year, whom if her prescription hadn’t expired, she wouldn’t have come back in to see me for her yearly exam. If she wouldn’t have had her yearly exam, I wouldn’t have noticed an FDT screening visual field defect and reduced vision in one eye that wasn’t there the previous 2 yearly exams. If I wouldn’t have seen her, I couldn’t have referred her to the ophthalmologist who referred her for imaging which found the diagnosis of a brain tumor. A yearly eye exam saved her life, and under 1800’s reign, we are sure to miss these kinds of cases in the future.
If your only goal is to cut costs related to online sales at walmart.com, why not use 1800 as a nameless, behind the scenes
subcontractor? Giving them the limelight is the wrong move for Wal-Mart. An alliance with 1800 disgraces our reputation.
Also, I’ll quote from your FAQ (http://www.walmartod.com/clients/1814/docs/FAQ_Alliance.pdf): “Consumers in that same survey specifically cited cost and “purchasing them is inconvenient” as reasons for over-wearing their lenses.” Wal-Mart boasts about how something like 50% of a town’s population visit their store in any given week. How is stopping by the vision center on their bi-weekly pilgrimage inconvenient? What they meant to say is expensive or don’t have enough money. They expect to buy a box per eye and stretch it as long as possible. The real problem is that people expect a year supply of contacts to be less expensive than glasses just because you throw them away, and most also expect them to be a replacement for, not in addition to, glasses. Change those two perceptions, and you’ll increase your contact lens sales without help from the enemy of 1800 CONTACTS.
Please see my previous blog posts about 1800:
David Langford, O.D.