Through the looking glass

Background:

About two years ago, I felt that my eyesight perhaps was not the best anymore. It was difficult to read small text and my eyes tended to get very tired in the evenings, not really wanting to do anything but sleep. But, at the same time, eye changes, is yet another of all those wonderful symptoms of Hypothyroid. All my physical problems happen to be linked to that little item in our body called the thyroid. So, I went in to the eye-glass place, where I have been shopping for the last decade: Specsavers. One of my first questions of course being, “I have Hypothyroid and I am not yet on the right dosage of medicine, will this effect my eyes, sight and prescription?”. Three young giggling Arabs were now working in the shop, which had changed location in town, and I must say that it seemed like the place had gone down hill. Where were the professionals I hitherto encountered in this place? The optician, a Jew working part-time at the University in Hamburg, where was he? HE was good! These yokels could not answer my questions, so I went in to the competition next door, Smarteyes, and asked them. They told me “Wait! Hold off a couple of months till your eyes might have normalized”.

So I waited and was unhappy with my eyes. Not being able to scrapbook, since it requires cutting and doing things in small detail. I talked to the doctor, I talked to the pharmacy and finally they thought, go ahead and get new glasses. So I set up an appointment at Specsavers. After all, I have liked the frames they are selling, and I thought “perhaps I just went in on a bad day, they would not employ utter idiots would they without education?”. Arriving a little bit early in town that day, I went in to look a little bit in the book shop first and then I headed for the eyeglass place.

To add another detail to the story. When you no longer have a gallbladder, you carefully have to plan your meals, according to what you are going to do the next day. At best, you will have flatulence the next day, and depending on where you are going to be, that might not be the funniest experience, for those around you nor for yourself. At worse, you will feel a pressing need for a loo, that can NOT be ignored, and once you get there, you have seconds before you encounter an explosion. Things that trigger these reactions are sugar, fat or grease, fried food, foods containing egg, apple, pear. I try to stay away from all of them, all together, but now and then you might get one of these in to your system and have to deal with it accordingly.

When I arrived at the eyeglass place, ten minutes early, my gall system went in to action, or rather, I needed a loo pronto! And the personnel told me that I was not allowed to use their staff loo and they had none for customers. Fine, I said, and walked out of there. I located a loo last-minute and when finished, I made a phone call home. I informed my husband that he must phone Specsavers and tell them, that since I was not allowed to use their loo, I would take my business elsewhere. The least thing you can do, to be service-minded,  when a customer is about to spend a lot of money in your shop, is to let the person use your loo when it is desperate. On the same tiny stretch of street, three eyeglass places are located. Specsavers in the middle, Smarteyes on one side and a more expensive place on the other side. I walked in to Smarteyes and set up an appointment for the following week. Turned out, they had a much better package deal as well, so I felt rather pleased.

I should not have! I walked in there, had my eyes checked out, and did not get too much help, trying to find frames which fit my particular face. Some people look good in all glasses, doesn’t matter what they put on. They just take a fun colour and model which attracts them, and they are done. I have worn glasses since I was three years old and I have never been able to choose a pair on my own. I need an expert to help me, and this I did not really get, being left to my own devices really. Finally having settled on a pair of red glasses for every day long distance and a pair of lilac coloured ones for reading, I walked out of the shop, pretty content. Till I came back to fetch them and it turned out they had made both in to reading glasses! Even though it had taken probably 20-30 minutes to sort out which was supposed to be which. Pay attention man! Boys and girls in their 20s are totally unsuited for this work place, I guess. Especially since part of the time is used to flirting or just clowning around. There is no excuse for what happened. And not only did it take forever before I had my glasses in hand, or should I say on my head, I had to keep on running back to have them adjusted and get new things for where the glasses rest on the bridge of your nose. Finally, everything was adjusted and correct, but I was still not happy with my new glasses. Both glasses were imageof the same kind, same model, and both of them were pulling my hair. A couple of hair straws would get caught in the hinges, every single day, and me trying to not go bald at my temples, trying to get the hair out. I have lived with this nightmare now for a year and a half and I have hated the glasses for as long. This is something they should warn you about, when you choose frames with wide side parts.

Part I:

In May, it stood clear that I no longer could live with these glasses. I no longer can read the fine print on medicine bottles, take out splinters with ease, from my son’s fingers, cut on the line when I scrapbook, or read books with small size font, in lamplight during the evenings. I needed new reading glasses and question was whether I should got to Smarteyes or Specsavers. Specsavers in town, with their young crew of unprofessional sellers or Smarteyes who leaves you to your own devices and whose frames seem to be less well made or sturdy. The latter no longer have the package deal,  which I went for, 1 1/2 years ago. So, what to do? My friends all go to the old reputable dealers, but those days are long gone for me. Who wants to spend 5000-6000:- / 430-517 Pounds/ € 544-653 / $ 731-877 or more, on a pair of eyeglasses, when you need two of them and when they might just last you a maximum of two years? I can’t afford such luxury! Those were the days when I could!

I decided to give Specsavers another go, BUT not in town. I chose the branch down in Burlöv, a community which has grown in to be a part of Malmö. “Cookie” was dancing in Malmö the 4 June, and we had already seen the show the night before, in town, so we let her go there with the dance group and we headed for Specsavers and my 17:40 appointment. What happened? Well, I was greeted by the optician, and she checked my eyes and told me I needed two new glasses. We walked out in the shop and she took down two glasses for me to try on. But one pair, purple, were too big I thought (resembling owl glasses), so she started to take down some others but then said she had to run and do something. I started to put them on, when I saw her leave the shop! T. who stood beside me was as surprised as I was and said “Her shift was probably over!”. But to not tell me this? To just leave me standing there? My husband went and fetched this Arab man instead but he just stood there, stared at me and yawned! The shop closes at 20:00 and was ready to sleep at 18:00.

I did not get rude. But inside I was in an uproar. I was upset at how the one woman had just walked out on us. I was upset since I felt uglier than ugly in all the glasses I put on. I felt upset at not getting any help from the yawning Arab in front of me. And frankly, I just felt like starting to cry, because of the entire situation. Glasses are so expensive and I have to wear them all the time, so it is important that I feel at least not like the ugliest person on the planet in them! My husband finally had to point out to him, that I needed some help here, that we had a girl to fetch at 19:15, in Malmö. So the man took me over to these frames made by Tiger, a very expensive Swedish brand, and Yves Saint Laurent. Do I need to say that I shuddered? He took out a pair in green camouflage and put them on me. Fine, they did not look bad. But 3000:- / 258 Pounds/ € 326/ $ 439 and what about the second pair I needed? Besides, I wear 1940s dresses and fashion, and let’s face it, camouflage doesn’t really go with those ultra feminine dresses and blouses! He got upset with me and said “Do you have anything against camouflage?”. No, was my answer, but the price! So, he went off to be tookey, sweeping the floor, while I went back to the cheaper range. And grabbed the two first ones, that the woman had taken off the racks for me to try on. And I went to pay. I had had enough. The glasses were ordered by another girl and we walked out, me upset and displeased. Some of the glasses I had liked, were too small or too big size wise and in my mind, I now wonder, how can they make just one size in each sort of model? So, if you are my size of face, you are forced to take a pair of black glasses with shock pink on the inside and a pair of owl glasses in purple. But the brown, the blue, the pink are all reserved for people with bigger or smaller faces. Does that make any sense?

Part II:

Time to fetch my glasses. We drove down on a Saturday, and brought “Gubby” with us, since he needed to get out of the house.  And we walked in to the shop, where the Arab once again was supposed to help us. The first question he asks, is for my husband: “Are you watching the World Championship in football?”. My husband, happy to discuss football, starts in on this discussion, and the Arab with the name I could not pronounce, nor remember, so I could record it here, puts my glasses on my head, the entire time focused on my husband and football. I say “wow, they make me dizzy” but I could not be heard over the football conversation. He seems to think they are fine the way they sit behind my ears, because he starts charging me for them, and adds “Oh, we must discuss the football you see because I have only women at home!”. Right! I try to put on the distance glasses and try to say, once again, they make me dizzy, but he just tells me, without looking, “you’ll get used to them!”. NOW I AM MAD! I take the plastic bag with the glasses in one hand, I take my son in the other, and walk out of the shop and head for the loo, since “Gubby” had tried to tell his father he needed to go. Soon I get a phone call where T. asks me where I am.

I got home with the glasses, tried to put them on, and the dizziness overwhelmed me. As I said, I have worn glasses since I was three, so I am not unused to the phenomena of new glasses being different from the old. Yes, you can always notice a slight difference and a little bit of a, wow, but usually it is actually a positive wow, because things are more clear, colours more sharp, the glasses feel clean and you feel like you have walked around with slightly dirty glasses for a while, with a little bit of fog on them. But these, they felt like they would make me lose balance, like I was having a stroke and getting a migraine in the express mail. I had to jerk them off and  put them back in their cases and placed them on a side table we have in the kitchen. There they have been situated for a month now! Twice I have tried to put on the reading glasses, but it feels like I am looking down a tunnel. Focus in the middle and blur on the sides. I have never ever encountered this feeling before and it is nasty! When T. realized that I had paid almost 2000 :- / 172 Pounds/ € 218 / $ 292 for two pair of glasses and never using them, he set up a new appointment at Specsavers. I just flat refused to go. No way I am setting my foot at that place in Burlöv again. I thought they were bad in town but that, that was below critique. So, he had to set up an appointment in town instead, because the glasses had to be checked. The Arab did not even consider that there might have been a mistake done. That something was wrong. But I was wondering if they had put on someone else’s prescription or what?

Part III:

Yesterday, it was time to head in to town, with my by-now-hated-new-eyeglasses. First of all, I had to stand there and explain why I had bought eyeglasses last time from the competition next door, when they could find me as a customer in their data base. Then I had to explain what had happened down in Burlöv. The optician came out, heard, looked and said, “we have to re-do everything”. So, I had to sit down and go through the entire eye examination again. My poor eyes were so strained and tired afterwards and then came the verdict. Her readings were completely different from the optician’s down in Burlöv. The eyeglasses have to be re-done. She could understand why I could not use them. So, I walked out of the shop, with T., D. and “Cookie” and zero glasses in my bag, wondering “WHY?” or should I say “HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?”. How can they get two readings? How can I trust this new reading? What is going on?

As we walked towards this yarn place, where I wanted to get a button, for a crocheted bag, I received for Birthday from a friend, so that I can close it, we discussed what had happened. T. just said “Well, the lady in Burlöv was tired and going off her shift”, but is that really an excuse? If that happened at the hospital, during surgery, would you say “Oh, they happened to cut off this bit of my liver because they were tired and soon going off their shift”? No, while you are at work, you have to be there, be awake, do your utmost. You can’t become drowsy towards the end and do a sloppy job and be excused because it was at the end of your shift! The optician was paid till 18:00 that day. There was no excuse to do a foul job the last 20 minutes! If she can’t cope and if the Arab man can’t stand in the shop at that hour without yawning in the customers’ faces, then they need to talk to their boss about cutting down their working hours! Why should I have to pay for them having sat up too late watching football from Brazil? Don’t know what her excuse was on a Wednesday afternoon? This was just bad, from beginning to end. And can I really, really trust this second reading? Can I really trust that I will have glasses that will work for my eyes now? I don’t feel overly optimistic and I dread the moment when I have to go back and fetch them, in ten days.

You could say, you don’t get more than you pay for. Had I gone to one of the shops which have been around since I was a child, I might have received better service? Or? But why should I have to pay in the vicinity of 10 000:-/ 860 Pounds/ € 1088 / $ 1462  for two eyeglasses, when I do not have that sort of income. That is a holiday for our entire family! When Specsavers arrived on the scene in this country, I finally felt that I could go and buy a much-needed new pair of glasses, after waiting for two years, not knowing how to find the money. My two friends had just bought themselves new glasses, one having paid 4 000:-/ 345 Pounds/ € 435 / $ 586   and the other 5 000:- / 430 Pounds/ € 544/ $ 731 , and I was totally depressed over having to have bad eyesight when others don’t even have to suffer a minute, but can rectify the problem.  I came home happy from Specsavers with a pair which had cost me 795:-/ 68 Pounds/ € 87 / $ 116  and I was pleased not to be a burden on my family.

Specsavers which first started in Britain, had come about when a husband and wife opticians had come to the conclusion that eyeglasses cost way too much. That there is no reason for them to cost as much as they usually did back then. A philosophy I totally agreed with. But, if people are going to trust these low price eyeglass places, they can’t have bad service, ill educated opticians and sellers who are not service minded. You still expect value for your money, because the eyeglasses still do not come cheap. (The frame says one price but then you have to have non-glare put on the glass and anti-scratch, which add up.) As far as I know, we don’t have one school better than the next, as far as opticians go or in any field of professionals. We don’t have ivy league schools in this country and second-rate colleges. They all are on the same level. So the mistake made during my eye-examination is inexcusable! And if people get as bad service as I did, when it is time to choose frames, fetch them, have them adjusted, then people will not dare to go there. Word will spread around. To be able to see is all too important! We are not talking about a three-month fashion accessory here!!!

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