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Call Kurtis Investigates: Blurry Glasses From Stanton Optical

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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Their commercials are hard to ignore and Stanton Optical’s buy one get one free offers seem unbeatable. But some customers hoping to get a good deal say they got a raw deal instead.

After dozens of viewers complained to Kurtis Ming about Stanton Optical making blurry glasses for them, his team went undercover. Twenty-six viewers have complained to CBS13 about this issue in the last year and a half. So, CBS13 invited a panel of five to sit down and share their Stanton experiences.

“How many of you, by raise of hands had blurry glasses?” asked Kurtis, “all of you,” he said after seeing all five of our panelists raise their hands.

“I couldn’t see a thing. Everything was so distorted,” said Leonard Johnson, of Orangevale.

“It was like looking through, looking through a glass of water,” said Greg Freed of Modesto.

“After 20 minutes, the back of your eyeball feels like it’s ready to explode,” said John Becker, of Manteca.

Becker says his blurry prescription sunglasses caused him to crash his car.

“I tried using the sunglasses and drove over a parking curb in my Mustang because I thought it was further away than it was,” said Becker.

“We asked for our money back, and she said we don’t do that,” said Ray Antonelli.

He and his wife Neata of Rio Linda say they spent more than $1,000 on their glasses. Blurriness and workmanship issues resulted in the company to making his glasses eight times. Neata is currently on her 15th pair and says hers are still blurry.

“I thought third time was supposed to be a charm,” said Kurtis.

“We had hoped so,” said Neata.

After reporting on the issue before, Stanton Optical CEO Daniel Stanton defended his company saying, “…More than 99% of our customers are thrilled w/the service and products selected.”

But with more viewers coming forward we decided to put the company to the test. CBS13 sent three patients to get eye exams and prescriptions from one doctor, then confirmed those prescriptions with another.

We then sent the patients into Stanton to order two sets of glasses each.

When they came back, four pair were correctly made. But our producer noticed a problem with her two pair right away, in the store.

“That’s a lot different. It is blurry almost,” said the CBS13 Producer.

She complained both pair were blurry, which the staffer seemed to suggest could be the doctor’s fault.

“Then you would need to go back to your doctor after a couple weeks if you can’t get used to it and let him know that the prescription’s not working for you,” said the Stanton Optical employee.

But our producer never did get used to them.

“It’s very unclear and when I walk it feels sickening,” she said.

So we did go back to her doctor and tested the lenses on a lensometer. Dr. Donald Yee quickly found they don’t match the prescription he wrote.

“The direction is off,” said Dr. Yee, “It’s not even close.”

“That’s bad,” said Kurtis.

“It’s not good,” said Dr. Yee.

He said the axis is off 90 degrees. That means the lenses were turned 90 degrees, before cutting them to fit in the frames.

So our producer could see clearly if she turned the glasses sideways.

“If I rotate 90 degrees with the right eye I can actually see when I do this” said the CBS13 Producer, demonstrating what happens when she turns her glasses sideways.

It’s the same issue with both her pair.

Sacramento Optical Laboratory Katz and Klein, has made lenses for 75 years.

“How would you characterize an error where the axis is off by 90 degrees?” Kurtis asked Vice President Mike Francesconi.

“Somebody’s asleep at the switch. But somebody should catch that,” said Francesconi.

He says industry standard calls for quality control, where glasses are checked for accuracy multiple times before they get to you.

“Glasses that are made incorrectly should never end up in the hands of a patient?”asked Kurtis

“Never, no,” said Francesconi.

We contacted Stanton Optical about our investigation. Despite our findings the company told us it does follow industry standards, saying, “Stanton Optical checks every lens to see if they match the customer’s prescription before they’re given to the customer.”

But the company admitted, “26 complaints is way too many.” It said it’s now changed its refund policy, “Stanton Optical will now honor any refund request that it receives…” if the glasses are made wrong.

And now Stanton says if our five viewers want refunds, they’ll get them.

“I think it’d be a big service if they just got out of business,” said Becker.

Our panel of customers wish Stanton’s commercial never caught their attention.

“They have no business being in business if they’re gonna do this,” said Freed.

Our producer returned with her glasses and Stanton employees admitted they were made wrong. They were then remade correctly.

If you ever receive blurry glasses from a retailer or doctor, ask them to check the prescription in a lensometer. It’s a step that should take no more than a couple minutes.

Stanton Optical’s entire statement to CBS13:

Stanton Optical (SO) is a national company that places a tremendous value on customer service. It’s continuously looking at ways to improve in that regard as it knows that its countless happy customers is what’s led to it being so successful. It’s sold around 30,000 frames in the last year or so and the vast majority of its customers walk away with big smiles on their faces. In short, SO has a great reputation and has provided an affordable alternative to thousands of people who are in need of eyeglass products.

Your station claimed that it had received 26 complaints from SO customers. Although almost any company would be extremely satisfied with 29,974 happy customers out of a total of 30,000 (the industry average for remakes orders of eyeglass frames is around 20%), SO quickly took the following steps to minimize the likelihood of any future complaints:

1. It immediately initiated an extensive review of the quality control process used by its California stores to make sure that they were following the nationwide standards established by SO.

2. It immediately initiated an extensive review of the employees at its California stores to make sure that they were performing their jobs as expected.

3. It immediately implemented a big change in its refund policy to put additional pressure on its stores to prevent any mistakes from occurring. In short, SO will now honor any refund request that it receives based on frames not being made on time or not being within ANSI standards. A copy of the new refund policy has already been posted at each of its California stores.

In response to your specific questions,

Yes, SO follows the ANSI standards for prescription ophthalmic lenses.

SO conducts an initial inspection after surfacing the lenses. It then conducts an additional inspection when the lenses are mounted in the frames.

SO checks every lens to see if they match the customer’s prescription before they’re given to the customer.

With respect to the frame that you purchased, it’s possible that the axis was misread when SO verified your prescription. There’s a bigger chance that this happened if you had a low prescription power.

SO’s new return policy went into effect 45 days ago.

Of course SO would be willing to offer your customers a resolution.

As I noted above, the industry average for remakes orders of eyeglass frames is 20% and SO is well below that average. None the less, 26 complaints is way too many and that’s why SO changed its refund policy and took the other steps described above to minimize the likelihood of future complaints.

Matthew Zifrony
Stanton Optical Counsel

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