Canstar Blue’s 2019 optical store review has seen Eyecare Plus, Optical Superstore, Specsavers, Bailey Nelson, Laubman & Pank, OPSM, Big W Optical & Budget Eyewear compared on their value for money, customer service, quality of advice, after sales service, range of products available and overall satisfaction.
We often don’t realise that our eyesight is starting to fail until it quite literally smacks us in the face! We blame the bad lighting, or that the menu font being written too small to read, and before you know it, it all starts to get a little blurry! While it could be down to one of many reasons, getting your eyes checked on a regular basis is a smart move to avoid future problems. Eye tests could also help identify more than just poor vision, but other health issues, too.
In Canstar Blue’s latest survey on this subject, 14% of adults admitted that they get their eyes tested less frequently than every two years – meaning they could probably do with another check-up! The majority of respondents said they get their eyes checked every one to two years (59%), while 22% do so every six to 12 months, and a very enthusiastic 4% visit their optical store every six months, or more frequently. While the majority of us are sticking to the recommended frequency, eyesight can change a lot in that period of time, so it might be something that we need to… keep an eye on.
With eyesight clearly important, it becomes a question of who to turn to for those regular eye exams. In our survey, 67% of Aussies said they always visit the same optometrist, with good customer service and support the most common reason for doing so, well ahead of convenience and price. Ultimately, the frequency with which you visit your optometrist could come down to whether or not you enjoy the experience – and that will depend hugely on the service you receive.
To help narrow down which optical store may suit you best, our survey of more than 3,000 consumers – who have visited one of Australia’s many chains in the last two years – can provide some guidance. We asked respondents to rate the optical store they most recently visited on a range of important factors. While eight major brands made it into this year’s review, Eyecare Plus was the only chain to get five stars for overall satisfaction, while also earning top marks in most other research areas. It’s the second year in a row that Eyecare Plus has emerged victorious.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 optical store review saw eight major chains compared, rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
Optical Superstore, Specsavers and Bailey Nelson received four stars overall, while Laubman & Pank, OPSM, Big W Optical and Budget Eyewear were left on three stars.
With plenty of chains to choose from, it would be worth investigating which one can offer you the best deal – not just on price, but the overall experience. If you find a chain you really like, it could mean you end up having more regular eye tests – which can only be a good thing. Read on to find out a little more about the eight chains in this review and what they have to offer.
With more than 100 stores across Australia, Eyecare Plus is a group of independently-owned optometry practices, all offering a wide variety of services, as well as glasses and lenses to suit different needs. The services include traditional eye-checks, as well as a thorough eye-check called the ‘Checkup Plus’, which examines eye health, clearness of vision, colour vision and eye muscle control, as well as keeping an eye out for diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Eyecare Plus also offers Visual Therapy and Behavioural Optometrist sessions at its stores, although it’s best to check with your local store in advance. Through these services, Eyecare Plus aims to improve eye health, as well as visual motor skills and visual perception to improve your eyesight in all aspects.
If you’re after a new set of glasses – or just after some replacement lenses or frames – Eyecare Plus has a wide variety on offer, including Progressive lenses and Transition lenses, useful for inside and outside the office. Styles and models will vary from store to store. Appointments can be booked online, over the phone or in store.
Optical Superstore has close to 100 stores across Australia with a wide variety of men’s, women’s and kids’ glasses and frames to suit all styles and eyesights. And with brands including Calvin Klein, Ray-Ban, Gucci and Johnson & Johnson available both in store and online, there is plenty of choice. In addition, it offers a selection of contact lenses to order online.
There are also plenty of incentives available throughout the year that can be found via the ‘Offers’ tab on its website. Whether you’re looking to save on a pair of frames or receive discounts on lenses, there might be something there for you to keep in mind.
Via its website, Optical Superstore allows consumers to book an eye test or a more detailed examination at the store of their choosing. If you’re not sure about which glasses to go with, or you’re a bit nervous about your eye examination, Optical Superstore provides its Expert Advisor through the website, which runs you through the processes and provides general information about eye health to make sure you are well-prepared when you step into your local store. It also offers free delivery on all purchases over $95.
A global brand, you will find Specsavers stores at more than 100 locations around Australia, with frames and glasses also available to buy online for extra convenience. With plenty of styles, models and brands available – including the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Country Road and Disney for the kids – Specsavers will likely have you covered, regardless of your preferences.
Contact lenses are also available for purchase online, with a wide variety of brands and capacities to pick from. Specsavers now offers Easypay, which allows customers to set up a payment schedule, rather than having to pay the full price upfront. Free delivery is also offered.
In store, Specsavers provides both standard eye tests, as well as more thorough tests for those worried about their eye health. Most examinations will be available for rebates through your health fund, but be sure to check what you’re covered for before you book an appointment, just in case. If you’re looking to address your hearing, as well as your vision, you’ll be interested to know Specsavers is currently rolling out audiology services around the country, with hearing aids also available at selected stores.
Age is just a number when it comes to Bailey Nelson. Founded only in 2012 in Bondi Beach, its boutique style stores are spread across Australia, Canada, New Zealand and in London. It claims to offer frames at a reasonable price, plus empower individuality and self-expression through its on-trend designs.
From glasses to sunglasses, as well as contacts and accessories, Bailey Nelson might just have everything you need in one place. It also boasts state of the art equipment and processes like its ultra-wide digital retinal imaging services, which allow for a holistic and detailed eye health exam in less than 30 minutes, according to Bailey Nelson.
It’s a registered provider with all major private health funds, allowing you to process your claim on the spot if you bring your health fund card along. When purchasing online, you’ll receive an itemised receipt instead, which you can provide to your health fund after.
Boasting over 100 years of industry experience, Laubman & Pank has stores across Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia – meaning some Aussies miss out on the in-store experience. However, online purchases can still be made via the website, including contact lenses.
Eye examinations and contact lens consultations can be booked online, with special offers also regularly advertised to help consumers score a good deal. Glasses and frames however, are only available in store for purchase.
Laubman & Pank offers a range of brands, including Oakley, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Ray-Ban, as well as Versace, meaning you should find a style to suit. Laubman & Pank also has protective eyewear for those who work in hazardous conditions, in addition to a variety of lenses to help prevent harmful UV damage. Laubman & Pank provides free cleaning and adjustments as well as a 30-day money back guarantee, but be sure to check the fine print on its website.
Servicing Australians for more than 80 years, OPSM has long been a staple in the eyewear and eyecare industry, with no less than 300 stores across Australia. Frames and sunglasses are available for purchase online, meaning you can narrow down your options before you’ve even stepped in the store. With free delivery available for online purchases, you don’t even need to leave the house if you don’t want to.
If you’re just after a standard eye test, OPSM offers a Classic Eye Test, which can be bulk billed, plus more in-depth consultations, such as a contact lens consult, for those after something more specific.
For those who wear contacts, OPSM offers a Subscription Value Plan, which includes a 10% discount on the online retail price, as well as delivery for when you need new contacts. Simply sign up on the OPSM website and select how often you would like a delivery, and you won’t have to worry about running out. OPSM also provides free cleaning and adjustments, as well as a free contact lens exchange.
Better-known for its wide range of appliances, toys and clothes, many Big W stores also offer optometry services, including full eye examinations, as well as new frames and lenses. With bulk billing and medical rebates available, consumers can book an eye test via the Big W website and head in store the next time they need to stock up on clothes lines or $12 toasters.
Big W offers a wide range of lenses, including bifocal, multifocal, reading glasses as well as UV tinted and polarised lenses to suit your personal needs. Frames will vary from store to store. As an added incentive, Big W gives customers a chance to rack up extra Woolworths Rewards points with purchases, including those on contact lenses, which is always a bonus.
Big W Optical offers unlimited free cleaning and adjustments, plus a 12 month in store guarantee if your glasses are found to be faulty, including prescription glasses.
Please note that Big W has announced the impending closure of its optical stores across the country.
With humble beginnings in Melbourne in 1977, Budget Eyewear has grown to accommodate consumers right around Australia, providing a range of products and services, including normal eye testing, optical prescriptions, free cleaning and adjustments, as well as a wide variety of lenses and frames.
Budget Eyewear offers a range of different lenses to suit your eyesight, with single vision, bi-focal and progressive lenses all readily available. Another option could be the Active lenses, otherwise known as polycarbonate, which are said to be thinner, up to 27% lighter than other material, and 10 times more impact-resistant than regular plastic lenses, designed for those keen on outdoor activities.
Additionally, Budget Eyewear stores are also stocked with transitional lenses to help keep your eyes safe from UV rays, without the hassle of switching to sunnies. Polarised and DriveWear lenses are available in stores, but be sure to contact your local store to ensure they’re in stock before you make the trip in. You can book your eye test online, as well as over the phone or in store.
Please note that some Budget Eyewear stores have re-branded.
Your eyesight can be a tricky business, with prescriptions and how well you can see as individual as the person, meaning your experience with an optometrist may be completely different to that of someone else. As a result, it’s important to look into what your optical store can do for you, in terms of not only service, but the range of eyewear available as well as its convenience.
With many optometry services available for health fund rebates and discounts, it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider about what you are covered for, plus if some optometrists have additional benefits to specific health funds to maximise your savings.
Many of us are concerned about our eyesight – 64% in fact, according to our survey – so whether you go for eye tests every six months or every two years, make sure you seek the answers to the questions you have, or go somewhere else if you’re not totally satisfied with the service you receive.
Photo Credit: nd3000/shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have been to an optical store for an eye test and/or prescription fulfilment in the last 2 years that is part of national chain (this refers to full service optical stores that both offer eye tests and sell products such as glasses and lenses) – in this case, 3,241 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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