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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WHY COSTCO IS SUING THE CONTACT LENS MAKERS

All the major manufacturers of contact lenses raised their prices recently.

“But opponents, which include big discounters such as Costco and 1-800 Contacts as well as the nonprofit group Consumers Union, say the policies amount to illegal price-fixing and are restricting consumer choice in an industry that has long been accused of anticompetitive practices.”

Read about it HERE.

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A COSTCO moment

I am apparently the last person on earth not to have chosen up sides in the Bernie v. Hilary matter. I like them both and I would happily vote for either one for President.

So I was at the counter in the COSTCO pharmacy and couldn’t help overhearing the problem a couple was having  with a prescription which had increased from $60 or so to $160 in one month. I’ve never paid more than $20 for a prescription in my well-insured government employee life so I am always horrified to hear these conversations, which I hear frequently, and always, it seems, involving seniors. 

The clerk was trying different ways of figuring their deductables etc but hadn’t been able to help much at the point where I was ready  to leave. I felt something rising up inside me. The wife was busy with the clerk so I spoke to the husband as I brushed past him. “The hell with this shit!’ I said. “Vote for Bernie!”.  He smirked. 

But I really meant it.

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