Monday, 4 November 2013

Big relief, and treats all round

My very good friend Angie - she with aspirations, who nearly fell into a credit-rating trap, but deftly and nimbly escaped - said this concerning my proposed attempt to suck up to Specsavers over not liking my new specs any more:

I predict that you will have a pleasant surprise when you return to Specsavers. They are very good at helping customers who are disappointed with their purchases.

It was a ray of hope! After all, I didn't really want to pay another £234 to them, just so that I could have a pair of glasses that would look right on the Melford visage. I decided that if they knocked £45 off the cost of another pair - the cost of the frames - it would be perfectly fair.

But in fact I did much better than that. Without fuss, they undertook to supply another new pair of glasses, with an alternative frame of my choice, entirely free of charge! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I wasn't expecting that at all. It wasn't quite a matter for tears of joy (although I can imagine some highly-strung emotional types sobbing hysterically with relief at such news), but I could hardly believe it. What an enlightened policy on 'after-sales regret'!

There was a caution however: I could do this only once, and would have to be quite sure about the alternative frames. But that was not an issue. I'd simply go for the 'Krissy' frames that I'd been wearing with the old lenses since 2010, which (I now clearly saw) suited my face so much better. It was settled; and I will pick up the frames that I really wanted all the time, fitted with the latest prescription lenses, one week from now.

I left the shop feeling £234 richer. And that wasn't fantasy. I'd cancelled a week away in the caravan in December, and I knew from plenty of experience that it would have cost me £250 or so. So I now had that in hand, to save or spend. I'm only human, and within the hour I had secured three tops costing a total of £76 from Debenhams and Fat Face. A treat for myself. I don't often get let off the hook where cash is concerned.

And then I drove over to the Volvo dealer, and booked Fiona in to have two new front tyres. Her current front tyres were still legal, but getting a bit too well-worn for winter work - and, who knows, snow might be on us at any moment. It's happened before in late November. Besides, those big wide tyres (Continental Gross Contact, 235/60 R18), fitted in April 2012, had done 21,000 miles - pretty good for a two-ton car that hauls a one-ton caravan. I'd had my money's-worth out of them. But I had been wondering how exactly to fund replacements before January. Now, with £158 available to sweeten the bitter pill (that's £234 less £76) - nearly half the cost covered - I could blithely go ahead. So Fiona will get a pre-Christmas treat too! Lucky lady.

I told Scott at Volvo's about Specsaver's brilliant attitude where a customer discovered they'd made a mistake. 'It's like hating your haircut, once your hair's on the floor', he said. 'Ah, but hair will grow back for nothing,' I replied, 'And besides, you couldn't do the same thing with buying a car, if a customer had regrets.' 'Oh,' he said mysteriously, 'I wouldn't say that. Sometimes we can manage something...' Now I wonder what he meant? The customer hates the position of the digital radio button, perhaps? Or now wants different alloys? Or the more powerful engine option? Or the paintwork in a different colour? Or really wanted an Audi or BMW or Mercedes all the time, and has simply changed their mind entirely? I'm beginning to wonder what you can get away with, if you push hard enough.

One thing is for sure. If Specsavers can provide two bespoke spectacles for the price of one, as they have in my case, it suggests that the ordinary mark-up on the manufacturing cost is huge.

I wonder what will happen to my unwanted specs? (I handed them back) Do they scrap the lenses (useless for anyone else) and reuse the frames?

Surely they're not just junked? Will they be shipped to some Third-World country, to be sold off to a poor person who can't afford to be fussy? Someone who will be perfectly content if my cast-offs help them see a bit better? Maybe, in fact, they will become the 'family specs', that everyone puts on as required, and passes around when there is some reading to be done. Assuming they can read. Or are allowed to.


  1. I'm delighted to hear of your success with Specsavers but, as you say, it makes you wonder about their markup. By comparison, my last specs with progressive (varifocal) anti-reflective lenses cost me £40 from I reckon they're every bit as good as my old male-mode specs from Specsavers.

  2. My brother in law was working for a car dealership which sold chunky 4x4s, some very posh and expensive. A valued customer came in and wanted a top of the range model just released and he wanted it quickly and customised for his wife's surprise birthday present.

    Once they started asking him to specify colours and finishes they knew he did not have a clue about what his wife would have chosen but they managed to get the car and my BIL delivered it silently in the night so that she would open her windows and see it on her birthday.

    One day later she drove into the dealership and asked how much it would cost to change the colour of all the leather interior from tan to something of her choice. They quoted what I would pay for a new small car and it only took her a minute to agree to the price! When she heard how much time it would take she asked if it would be quicker to just hand back the car and order a new one finished to her specification. About ten miles cost them about £8000 and the unwanted one sold for full price within minutes of being put online.

  3. Both these tales expose something eye-opening about buying and selling process.

    I'm inclined to think that any trader with a desirable commodity for sale is trying it on if he or she insists that returned or unwanted goods represent an irrecoverable loss the the business. The deposits kept on hotel rooms, flight seats and package holidays instantly come to mind.



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