Contacts at COSTCO? It CAN be done.

I’ve always gone to an optometrist for my contact lenses. For years I went to Dr Turkis, on Harris. Unfortunately he retired and left his practice  in the hands of some bumblers who took SIX MONTHS to get me a pair of contacts.

A few weeks ago I noticed that I couldn’t read the small print on the Suddenlink  program grid.  I called Six Rivers Optical, who told me they couldn’t help me unless I ALREADY had a prescription, in other words the idea of  just bopping into a optical shop and returning a few days later to get  your lenses was not possible at Six Rivers.  Since my aim in life, always, is efficiency, I decided to try COSTCO since I go there  at least once a month anyway.  I wasn’t expecting great efficiency from COSTCO.  When I first joined and had to get used to the idea of waiting in line for a prescription,  I would tell myself as I was waiting that this was what they told us socialized medicine would be like.

There are two booths at COSTCO  at the front of the store. One  is for the “optical”  company and one is for the optometrist, a  cute young guy named Dr Ben Lam who earned his OD in Philadelphia.  He was quick and pleasant  and I came away with a card with my RX on it.  The little tiny office only had four chairs and got very crowded very quickly. It’s not for every one. For some reason- maybe because I had my eyes dilated and they wanted to get me home before dark- they hustled  me out and told me I had to come in again in person to ORDER the contacts. They wouldn’t take the order over the phone. I found this very irritating.  For me, going to COSCTO is not a fun outing- it’s a damned hassle-  but I obediently went back to order the lenses, and after another week and a half I got a robocall advising me that my “optical order” was ready for pickup. During none of this process was I able be to figure out  WHAT the “optical” people did  that the “optometrist”  didn’t  but I always guessed wrong. If you go into the wrong kiosk, the other is close by.

I went to pick up my contacts and was directed to the “optical” counter.  To my surprise, the  clerk just handed me the case. What? I asked. No fitting? No one  fussing over me to make sure everything was perfect? She dove over into the “optometrist” booth then returned and instructed me that if I had any problems with  the lenses  I should go over there.   Okay.

I got home  and tried the lenses.  They were perfect! I can read the program grid again! The next time won’t be so jangly.  I’ll be used to their system.  The cost for the exam was $144 and the lenses were $77, total $221.  Seems to me that’s about the same as what Turkis charged. And all’s well that ends well.

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7 thoughts on “Contacts at COSTCO? It CAN be done.

  1. Do you wear hard or soft contacts? I wear hard lenses and I’ve been buying mine online at Coastal Contacts (read some not-good reviews about 1-800-contacts). I scan the Rx, email to the company, they verify (phone) and shortly thereafter I get them in the mail. I think they offer free shipping now…I need a new Rx and my previous optometrist was at Sams Club (WM) and now you have to buy into their program…with a small fee…but still pay it every year. Walmart is the same, so I’m going for an independent. I looked into Costco and the reviews (Yelp again) weren’t that good—. Now you only need a Costco membership if you’re going to BUY something. If it’s just the professional appointment, don’t need the card.
    I wear hard lenses and my Rx doesn’t change that much so I just order four or more pairs so I always have spares. I have astigmatism but the hard lenses I have somehow eliminate that (less rigid lenses don’t).
    There is a Walmart in Eureka and they have a vision center…the optometrist in an independent so you could probably just get an exam (not you, someone else thinking about replacement lenses and reading your blog) and lenses can be ordered through WM online…
    I wear Boston lenses so I can’t use a lot of companies but for people who use soft lenses or less technical ones.
    I did find an independent optometrist, good reviews, fair prices…and I like to support small businesses.

  2. Sounds like a major hassle, plus you have to add the annual membership fee (which is increasing) to the cost of whatever you buy. I have never been in a Costco mainly because I do not like to have to pay just to shop, and then where do I put everything since a lot come in such huge quantities. Costco is consumerism gone over the top. (I do pay for membership in the North Coast Co-Op however, because at least at the Co-Op one is an owner and not just simply a member.) Plus when one shops at Costco, and other big chain retailers, the dollars spent leave the community. But at least they employ local people and taxes. Don’t even get me started about shopping online.

    • Well,the membership fee is only going up by $3 as I understand it, and yes, you need a garage to store the stuff. Good for you for supporting the Co-Op. Shopping online usually doesn’t work out for me.

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