Dec 05 2012

My cheap glasses from Zenni Optical

I went to Target for an eye exam last month, and was pleasantly surprised when my vision prescription improved. It has done that in a few of my last exams. Weird! But I’ll take it.

We don’t have vision insurance, so our expenses were out-of-pocket. My exam was somewhere around $50 (not bad) but the glasses I liked would have cost around $260. Yikes.

I went ahead and ordered them, figuring it costs what it costs. I took my prescription online to Zenni Optical to order a prescription pair of sunglasses for a good price.

I ended up shopping around their website and saw a variety of frames that I might like just for my day-to-day glasses instead of the expensive set from Target (I can return the set from Target for 100%. I haven’t even picked them up yet).

Of course, it can be really hard to shop for a pair of glasses online. Since I’ve tried on many pairs over the years, I had an idea of what works for my face. I uploaded a photo of myself so I could virtually try on glasses.

I bought three pair of glasses and one pair of sunglasses. Why so many? Why not? I’ve never had more than one pair of glasses at a time, and for the price I thought it would be fun. I also figured it would help in case one pair wasn’t so good.

All told, my Zenni bill was $147.40. That included shipping, frames, lenses, their most expensive protective coating, and some clip-on sunglass components.

My order arrived last week (finally — it took awhile) and I was mostly satisfied. I liked 3 of the 4 pair. The pair that I thought would be my favorite actually wasn’t at all — it was just a bit too big for my face after all. I think I will return those, but I won’t get all of my money back. Zenni’s return policy isn’t that great. I can get 50% of my money back. Hopefully that process will go smoothly.

I am satisfied with the other two glasses, and also the sunglasses. I’ve never had prescription sunglasses before, and they’re fun :). I just chose a frame and added an 80% grey tint for an extra $4.95. All of their lenses have UV protection (so they say).The clip-on sunglasses were no good. They were cheap ($4.95 each), but flimsy and awkward. The clips for mine were visible while wearing the glasses, and that’s distracting and ugly. In my opinion, skip the clip-ons and just go for a stand-alone set of sunglasses.

I earned $5.70 cash back by clicking through good ol’ Ebates* first. Since I paid with my cash-back credit card, I’ll get another 1% back. I don’t have a Flexible Spending Account or a Health Savings Account, but that could have been one more way I could have saved on this purchase.

The price was substantially cheaper than one pair at Target, but ya know what? These are cheaper quality, too.


One set I have are plastic frames and while they are sturdy enough, I can see how I could end up breaking them if I’m not too careful. My other keeper set is a wire frame that seems to be put together a little better. Due to the “Made in China” stickers all over my order and how long it took to receive them, I suspect these were actually manufactured and assembled in China (though I don’t know for sure).

That part concerns me. I mean yeah, I guess I should have questioned more of how this company can afford to offer such cheap glasses. I’m having a bit of buyer’s remorse over this aspect, but at the same time I’m not going to return all of these glasses for only 50% of my money back. One pair, sure. But all of them? No. I’ll wear these until they break or my prescription changes.

Next time, I think I’ll order from Warby Parker. These glasses are a bit more expensive than Zenni ($95 for a full pair) BUT they are made in New York, and they have a few other neat features about their company, such as for every pair they sell, they donate a pair to someone in need.

They also will send you 5 frames to try on for 5 days to see how you’d like them before you order. That’s handy!

I wish I knew about that company before I ordered from Zenni. I found out about Warby Parker while doing some digging about this post.

Anyway. I’d also like to save up and get LASIK, so maybe these will be the last glasses I need for awhile anyway. That would be nice.

Have you ever bought glasses online? How was your experience?

*affiliate link

3 Responses to “My cheap glasses from Zenni Optical”

  1. I’ve been buying cheap glasses online for 4 years now. It’s hit and miss if they’re good or not. I learned about the process from the GlassyEyes blog. Check it out if you want more places to shop.
    I’ve received glasses from Pakistan and Hong Kong during my adventures in online eyeglass shopping. My average cost has been around $40/pair.

  2. EVERYTHING zenni does is from China.

    There prices reflect that. Unfortunately they tend to break very quickly too (Chinese product). But I guess they will do in a pinch.

    I like American made glasses like A bit more expensive (not much) but much higher quality and A LOT faster time to get them!

  3. Actually Warby Parker is only headquartered in New York.

    They also get all their glasses made in china

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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