4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News

4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News
4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News Led by John "Cueball" Mackenzie

30 August 2015

OPTICAL INDUSTRY IN AUSTRALIA BECOMES RIPOFF SPECTACLE - EYEGLASSES STORES ARE FOR SUCKERS

We try to concentrate on local Cairns issues.  However we've been contacted by several readers over the last few months annoyed with the industry that brings us eyeglasses.  One of these local readers an employee at OPSM.  Somewhere in town.

And when we started looking into the situation, we realised that it's a bloody mess.  It's one of the biggest ripoffs facing families around Cairns.  And we couldn't get a response from either Warren Entsch nor Jan McLucas about the government's interest in this consumer ripoff.

The signs on the windows scream "2 Pairs No Gap" and
"Frame and Lenses $99".  We've never heard of ANYONE coming out of one of these shops without being hundreds of dollars lighter.  Even when using the "extras" cover on any of the health insurance plans.

A visit recently to OPSM highlighted the issue.  After the Medicare-paid eye exam (and the requisite "strong-arming" for additional, non-covered services), we then sat with an optical consultant who gleefully announced that we were "lucky, they have a 30% off sale on lenses".   Selecting a $149 frame, the consultant sat banging away at the computer, finally announcing that after the "extras" cover from Medibank, I would only owe them a gap of:


$565!


I glared at the guy, who was barely 25 years old, and told him "that doesn't pass the laugh test".   I asked "what about the 2 pairs for $149" and was told "those are single vision only".  So I said "well let's change this to single vision, and give me the 2 pairs for $149".  No such luck.  "Your correction is too strong".  




Does anyone get 2 pairs for $149?  We would guess almost no one.

Before heading down to the next shop in the mall, we began an investigation into this racket.  Why is it that consumer goods across the board have plummeted in price in the last ten years, and eyeglasses are just going up, up, up?


Type in the word "LUXOTTICA" into Google, and stand back for a torrent of angry consumers.

There's one word for it.  Monopoly.  And Australia is gripped in this eyecare monopoly more firmly than any western country, because other countries have active consumer protection and a free market that offers competitive help.

So if OPSM were overcharging us, why didn't we leave OPSM and walk down to Laubmann and Pank or Budget Eyewear?  Because they're all owned by the same company.  The Milan, Italy based Luxottica.

This report by the USA-based 60 Minutes starts to unravel the fraud that is Luxottica: 



And if you think a visit to a competitor (like SpecSavers) will be any better, think again.  Like the two-company grocery monopoly, SpecSavers has little incentive to "compete".  And even worse, because Luxottica owns many of the frame manufacturers and lens-blank companies in Mainland China, SpecSavers and Optical Superstore are forced to purchase from Luxottica as well.


Then there's the sunglass ripoff - an offshoot of this Italian
monopoly Luxottica.  Sunglass Hut?  Apex?  Bright Eyes?  OPSM?  The four "different" brands at Cairns Central.  All owned or controlled by Luxottica.

Ray-Ban is by far the top selling sunglass brand in the world.  This esteemed company began operations in the USA in 1937 as a subsidiary of Bausch and Lomb.  At the time they sold Ray-Ban to Luxottica in 1999, the average price of a pair of Ray-Bans was $42.

Luxottica took the brand off the market for a year, re-engineered (cheapened) the materials and manufacture, and today the average price is $262!  In fact the flood of "counterfeit" Ray-Bans in the market feature many that are manufactured on the original machines that were discarded by Luxottica!

Ray-Bans, once a quality, rugged, and reliable product is just crap now.  Better to buy $19 sunglasses from the rack at Discount Pharmacy.

Luxottica did the same to the second most popular sunglass brand, Oakley.  Notice that all of the Luxottica-owned shops prominently display both Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses?  How many know that these are not US brands anymore, but just consumer junk?

Last year, Luxottica reported a profit of $8Billion on total sales of $12Billion.  Their gross profit margin is the highest of any company in the world - almost twice the gross profit margin of Apple!  

SO WHAT'S A CONSUMER TO DO?

We managed to order the IDENTICAL TITANIUM FRAMES (only missing the bullshit "designer" logo on the sides), the exact progressive lenses, thinnest materials, with all the "coatings" for scratch resistance, anti-reflection, etc.  Spring temples.  Quality.  The works.

$111.85  
DELIVERED via Express Post

Got them in 13 days (faster than OPSM).

The Luxottica group says in their financial statements that they "concentrate their marketing efforts in regions of the world with smaller markets and minimal government oversight".  In other words, Australians are suckers, so they put maximum effort here and are less successful in markets like the US where REAL competition exists.  

They also note that their business could be impacted by the "application of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar laws;".  But no fear here - politicians are too busy trying to figure out how to let homosexuals get married and raising revenue by putting speed traps everywhere.

While there are several eyewear companies now announcing service to Australians, we can heartily recommend our experience with Zenni Optical.  Go down to the local eyeglass thieves, get your script (they are required to hand it over), and order your next pair of spec's on the net.  

Your wallet will thank you.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

The chlorinater on my pool broke the other month. Two local pool shops quoted me over $500 for a replacement.
I got the exact same replacement with warranty ( they also threw in a soccer ball!) off eBay from a pool shop in Melbourne delivered for $165.

Anonymous said...

Been doing that for years and I tell everyone to do the same. I get an eyetest done in Japan, walk in off the street takes 10 seconds to do the test with a printout, wait 30 mins and I have my new glasses. Total cost $60.

Anonymous said...

Checked out a pair of specs in Smithfield,don't know if the Lass thought I was a tourist,,started off $199 for specs,after ++ came to $620.could have bought similar at reject store for $20,told her I would think about it.

74 said...

Not disagreeing with the point of the article, but my family have had 3 sets of two pairs of glasses each over the past few years, from Specsavers at Smithfield, for a grand total of $19 out of pocket. Our cover is very comprehensive/bloody expensive though.

Anonymous said...

Yes - I did the Medicare paid test.
And then I ordered from Zenni Optical.
Waited 3 weeks but all good - just what I ordered and about 1/4 the price compared to SpecSavers/OSPM stc.

Anonymous said...

I know you are spot on HBW because I have done exactly that,Zenni. a fraction of the cost.
I would prefer to buy local ,say pay half as much more to save local jobs.

Johnno said...

So is this any different from other stuff advertised on TV, " Buy one and get one free" Australia is full of suckers. How can they even exist by giving something away for free!. All sorts of crap for free, just buy one first. What do you want with two knife sharpeners, two bloody mops to start with for example!!!!

Anonymous said...

Spot on. I wonder how they keep getting away with this scam. And then there is all the extras : anti glare, anti shock and all sort of other crap that will double the cost. I once brought in some perfectly good frames and just wanted new lenses. I was quoted a reasonable price, but when I got the job done they tried to charge me $ 80.00 for "re-tooling" the old frame. I checked prices for glasses in a Thailand tourist spot some years ago. They must be part of the same cartel with prices higher than in Australia. The optician got most upset when I told him so. There must be some suckers there who pay whatever, because it is in a foreign currency.

Anonymous said...

Spot on. I wonder how they keep getting away with this scam. And then there is all the extras : anti glare, anti shock and all sort of other crap that will double the cost. I once brought in some perfectly good frames and just wanted new lenses. I was quoted a reasonable price, but when I got the job done they tried to charge me $ 80.00 for "re-tooling" the old frame. I checked prices for glasses in a Thailand tourist spot some years ago. They must be part of the same cartel with prices higher than in Australia. The optician got most upset when I told him so. There must be some suckers there who pay whatever, because it is in a foreign currency.

shanghai said...

sorry to change the subject but the head of of woollies got the sack because he only delivered a 2 billion profit but we cant get anyone in government to balance the the books in twenty years go figure we deserve it

Anonymous said...

And now we have that McScrooge Hockey and his Speedo wearing boss Abbott changing the laws so that even purchases at a certain price online will command a GST penalty! Now of course grubs like Gerry Harvey are as excited as a teen boy on prom night, but for the rest of us who are sick of being held to ransome by corporations whom the toothless ACCC cannot touch, we are totally screwed. And we live in a democracy some say? I say bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Wont make any difference, still cheaper to buy online so i'll keep doing it

Ken svay said...

I buy my glasses in Cambodia, lenses from Japan, bi focal, top of the line with European frames cost about $150. Rayban fakes are often from the same factories as originals, cost about $5 in Cambodia.