I just was contacted by Review of Optometry. Apparently, they didn’t want any comment from me, but they were hoping that I knew the name of an optometrist in Utah that is vocal about 1-800 type stuff (apparently not me, just any other Utah O.D.). So, Utah ODs if you want to comment on the whole 1800/Wal-Mart story, let me know so that l can pass on your information to Review of Optometry.
But I thought that if by some miracle R.Opt. makes a link to my site, I’d better update more about what I’ve discussed with others about the whole partnership with 1-800 and Wal-Mart since my original post. Of course, this has been a hot topic at Wal-MartOD.com and at other sites like the highly secretive society of ODwire (which I don’t read anymore because, hey, it’s a secret).
So in my last post, you read the e-mail that I immediately sent back to Wal-Mart HQ the moment I heard about the news. The next day I went to work, and to my utter amazement, my vision center manager thought the partnership was pretty cool. Why? Apparently, Wal-Mart currently buys their contacts directly from each company, so this partnership is supposed to make the process faster for the patient. It is also supposed to help lower costs since 1-800 and Wal-Mart can combine their buying power to ask for a deeper discount from the individual contact lens manufacturers.
Then the district manager called and expressed the same opinions, but also added that Wal-Mart would save money by transferring the expensive maintaining of walmart.com’s online contact lens sales to 1-800′s website. She also said that 1800 has a huge brand recognition. If you walk-up to someone on the street and ask them where one could go to buy contacts, something like 40% will say 1-800-Contacts.
So this tells me that Wal-Mart is using 1-800 as their sort of high recognition buying group. In my practice, I order most lenses through a buying group like Lensco, but then some lenses I just purchase through the manufacturer, and hard lenses I get through Valley Contax ( I know Lensco does hard lenses also, but Valley has the I-Kone and my alumni’s C.A.D. design.)
So is it a sin for Wal-Mart to get itself a buying group? Of course not, unless that buying group happens to belong to the Spawn of Satan. Okay, all kidding aside, I wrote the following follow-up e-mail to Dr. Patel:
…I would gladly be willing to recant anything I’ve said about 1800 CONTACTS if they would join the Vision Council of America, prominently display the “Check Yearly. See Clearly.” logo (checkyearly.com), erase from their site any directions for consumers to subvert doctor recommended expiration dates, and withdraw their lobbying efforts for government mandates on 2-year expiration dates.
You should include that as part of your bargain with them.
So, just because 1800 sells contacts online doesn’t make them my enemy. It’s their coaching of consumers to badger doctors about prescription expiration dates and worse, their lobbying for laws to mandate to doctors a minimum 2-year expiration date (which succeeded into become a Utah state law).