31 October 2014

Glasses for 85 shekels or less at Zenni!

How much did you pay for your last pair of glasses?  I paid about 60 NIS including frames, lenses, and coatings!  Was it a super sale at Optical Halperin or Opticana?  Nope!

Buying glasses online
Zenni Optical was one of the first direct-to-consumer, online eyeglass stores.  With no brick-and-mortar structure, they can manufacture and ship them at ultra cheap prices.

How does it work?

  • First, pick out your frames.  Currently, frames come in a variety of price ranges including $6.95, $9.95, $12.95, $15.95, and $19+.  Over the last few years, my family has bought two pairs at $8, three pairs at $9.95, one pair at $12.95, and one pair at $16.90.  (Prices have changed slightly over the years.)
  • The price of the frames includes regular lenses, UV protection, anti-scratch coating, and a case and cleaning cloth.
  • You can get extras such as tinting to make them into sunglasses or an anti-glare coating for $4.95 each.
  • Shipping is charged per order: $9.95 to international destinations such as Israel (or $4.95 to the US).

Some things to keep in mind
Choosing frames

  • It can be hard to know what frames you will like without trying them on.  For us, we’ve usually tried to purchase one pair that is as similar as possible to a pair which we already have and like.
  • Zenni makes this easier by listing the measurements of each part of the frame for each frame.  By looking at the general shape of your current frame and taking its measurements, you are likely to find a pair that closely matches what you have.
  • In addition, we usually also purchase a second, backup frame that is a bit different or more adventurous.  My wife has ended up liking her risky choices while mine remained backup pairs.

Prescription

  • You don’t need to present a prescription.  However, you do need to have the information available including your pupillary distance (PD).
  • Some eye care professionals will withhold your PD on purpose, in an effort to prevent you from easily going to other suppliers (including online stores) to fill your prescription.  In the US, it is your right under federal law to receive your PD when getting your prescription.  In Israel, there does not seem to be such an entitlement.
  • I was able to get my PD by calling the store where I last filled my glasses prescription in the US.  My wife did not know her PD.  Instead, she informed our ophthalmologist that she needed to know her PD; the doctor told her to see the in-house eyeglass saleslady.  My wife confidently told the eyeglass saleslady that the doctor told my wife to see her about getting her PD.  So, with a little assertiveness, she got it!
  • If you did not know your PD, consider telling the healthcare provider, in advance, that you expect to receive your PD as part of the prescription and that it is a condition of you using them, or you will seek another healthcare provider who will.
  • As a last resort, it is possible to have a friend or family member measure your PD, though it is very important to make sure you record the number accurately.
  • As an adult, once you find out your PD, you are set; PD is supposed to stay constant once you reach adulthood.

Mailing to Israel

  • Up until now, we’ve had them mailed to the US and brought over by family or friends.  Soon, we’ll be placing our first order using their delivery service to Israel.
  • Given that mailing costs $9.95, we won’t let the cost of our eyeglasses and extras exceed $40.04, in order to avoid the tax and customs on packages with a value of $50 or greater and, hopefully, also ensure that the package meets the requirement of being 2 kg or less.
    Update 30 January 2012: Internet purchases up to $75 are now tax-free, so you can order $65.05 worth of glasses before shipping – between 3 and 8 pairs for most people – without worrying about taxes.
  • Update 8/8/2011: We placed our order for three pairs of glasses ($34.80 + $9.95 shipping = $44.75 total which is less than 160 NIS).  The glasses arrived by FedEx delivery to our door in less than 10 days from when we placed the order! 

 

A number of people I know have used Zenni Optical to their – and their wallet’s – great satisfaction.  With eyeglasses costing in the hundreds or even thousands of shekels, it’s important to save money, if possible, on this significant purchase.  And, if you have children who need glasses and treat them as if they’re disposable, I imagine you agree that cheap is the way to go.

Feel free to share your own experience with Zenni Optical, other online stores, or eyeglass purchases in general in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Cindy Klein says:

    Hi Gidon, just wanted to say we had a great experience with Israel Optical!

  2. What do you think of israeloptical?

    • Gidon, I don’t have any experience with them, so I cannot really comment. I would only note that their prices start at 89 NIS including shipping while Zenni starts at $6.95 (currently about 25 NIS) + $9.95 (currently about 35 NIS) for shipping for your entire order (no matter how many items you order).

      • I need an eye checkup to know all the data I would need to provide Zenni with, and that website has a Jerusalem storefront that offers such a checkup for 35 NIS. (Other place I checked asked for 150!)

  3. MrBubbles says:

    Zenni is awesome, my wife and I ordered from them. They came back perfect. When I went to the optometrist I had her check the glasses and she put them in some machine that I guess checks refraction and she said they were perfect. When I told her they were from some website in china she was amazed. Do not be a fryer and pay these highway robbery prices in Israel.

  4. Lawrence Feldman says:

    unfortunately, as we recently found out the hard way, Zenni’s standard shipping to Israel is now via Hong Kong Post — literally the slow boat from China. FedEx is now an extra $10

  5. Miriam says:

    This was an awesome tip, thanks! Zinni now is even running a two-for-one, so score!

    Just wanted to recommend who I went to for the prescription, Nechama Factor (Optometrist at The Vision Center) in Ramat Beit Shemesh did an exam and gave me PD and everything no problem at all. Because she doesn’t sell glasses, there was so issue with pressuring me to buy there or any *gneivat daat* that I was getting a prescription there and not going to buy there. Awesome (also, I was a lot more comfortable buying glasses online knowing a *real* optometrist gave me the prescription, since I can hardly keep sending glasses back to Zinni to ‘tweak’ them).

    nechama@vision-center.co.il or 052-613-6664

    • Miriam, thanks for the heads up on the Zenni sale! Maybe it’s time to order a few more :)

      I am glad to hear you found someone who would give you the PD without any trouble. If anyone else has had a good experience with other service providers who will give you your PD, you are welcome to share as well!

  6. אין ספק שהמידע כאן מאוד עזר לי. רכשתי לפני 8 ימים זוג משקפי-שמש אופטיות שהגיעו במשלוח מסין ועלו (כולל המשלוח) כ 96 שקלים. עכשיו הזמנתי עוד שלושה זוגות לילדים שלי וגם הם יגיעו בקרוב.

    תודה רבה !

  7. Rivkah (NYC-->Israel) says:

    Excellent resource. Thank you so much. We will definitely use it. So far, I have contacted them via on-line chat, and asked if they offer glasses with lenses for astigmatism correction, and they said that they did. Great!

  8. We have been using Zenni for years. Their delivery has improved greatly from when we started using them. We have never had to pay mesches and we now get the glasses within 10 days. Because our daughter can be rough on her glasses (what kid isn’t?), we always order two pairs at the same time.

  9. I know someone who ordered from them and got good glasses really cheap. She had ppl bring them to Israel in their suitcase for her. I’m worried about shipping to Israel. Three out of four things I’ve ordered overseas never came.

    • Glad to hear that your friend enjoyed her purchase, tikva. Regarding shipping a Zenni order to Israel, some have had a good experience.

      Is there a claims process with the post office or merchant when a package is lost en route?

  10. Thank you so much – this is a great resource that I plan to use soon!

  11. Lawrence Feldman says:

    Thanks for the information.

    Two questions, though: are you sure that the $50 cutoff regarding taxes / customs includes shipping costs? And if the order total, however that’s computed, does exceed $50, what fees are levied — only NIS 35, or more than that?

    Larry

    • Larry, these are good questions. I am not an expert on shipping from abroad by any means; my experience with receiving packages from abroad is somewhere between little and none.

      The value of the package is determined by the sender. If a friend abroad buys $49 worth of clothes and ships them to you, he will probably write that the package is worth $49. However, if you purchase from a retailer $49 worth of goods which costs $10 to ship, the company could list the order total (i.e., $59) as the value of the package. Of course, treatment of the package may depend on the retailer, the shipper, and even the particular individual at the post office who receives the package. I’d be happy to hear your experience after you ship.

      For more details about shipping taxes and fees in general, see this lively, online question & answer session with the deputy director-general of the Israel Postal Company.

      Most importantly, unless you need to purchase special lenses (like bifocals or progressives), you should be able to purchase between 2 and 5 pairs for under $40.

  12. I love the great information you are sharing!

  13. Two points:

    1. Zenni’s website now has a feature where you can upload a mugshot of your face, and then you can click a button to preview how any set of frames looks on you. It’s obviously not perfect, but it’s a very smart and cool feature, and gives you a decent approximation of how they’ll look.

    2. I got my PD by going to the Optica store in the mall. The sales lady used a desktop machine to read it from my actual glasses, and wrote down all my specs along with their pricing options.

    3. I have a very high Rx, and, after placing my order, Zenni told me that it wasn’t a good idea to get the half-frame I ordered. I wrote back asking them to please still do it if it was physically possible, and they complied. It’s important to keep an eye out for those emails, though, and to be clear I guess. Overall, I’m very satisfied.

    • Yoni, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad it was as positive as ours have been!

      Regarding getting your PD, you were only going to get a quote on glasses? I’m glad that worked, and maybe it will work for others as well.

      I’m also not surprised to hear about their accommodation of your request. When I wanted to order a particular frame in a color which they no longer had in stock according to their website, I contacted them by e-mail, and they told me they had a couple left and I should just write in the comments of the order that I wanted the color that was no longer “in stock.” So far, my customer service experience with them has been very positive.

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