No escape from ruthless retailers
Mr Barnes (OPTICIAN, May 20) argues that CIBA's pricing is not a factor in driving down the cost of daily wear lenses. If CIBA did not discount to those outlets that can buy in bulk, they would not be able to discount CIBA product as much as they are doing. It may not be the only factor, but, with all respect, for Barnes to argue that their pricing has no bearing on the final price of his product is palpable nonsense.
He then repeats what surely is now well understood that opticians on the high street have to charge for their professional time. We can no longer expect to make a large mark-up on a product that a customer (armed with their details) can buy anywhere, rather than from their optician.
However, the major problem for independent opticians is not the price of lenses available on the internet. If customers could only buy cheap contact lenses there, opticians could all charge a realistic and profitable professional fee. No, the biggest headache nowadays is from other optical outlets on the high street who are only interested in shifting product and don't bother to charge a penny for the professional time of their optometrists, let alone a realistic fee. And by the way is it only coincidence that the multiples use CIBA for their lowest priced daily lens?
Several multiples promote free contact lens fitting and even free contact lenses, so desperate are they to get people on to their books in order to sell spectacles to them, which are far more profitable than supplying contact lenses. Indeed, eye examinations and contact lens fitting is clearly seen as a loss leader by many of the multiples.
Accordingly, it is extremely hard, if not nigh on impossible, to explain to a daily contact lens wearer that your time is worth x amount while the optometrist down the road is apparently willing to examine, prescribe and provide aftercare for nothing and charge prices close to the internet to boot! The biggest problem I see for the independent is while they may not be too bothered to lose what has become an unprofitable contact lens patient now, they may also be losing a future spectacle purchase.
The situation described above is one of the reasons that I decided to leave optics for a career in the law. However, my studies were interrupted the other day when I heard that Tesco are looking to provide a cheap conveyancing service and no doubt no sooner will I qualify than someone will open 'lawsavers' nationwide! Clearly there is no escape from these ruthless retailers, but I just hope that solicitors and barristers will be more sensible than their optometrist counterparts by simply refusing to allow their time to be so devalued.