Thursday, 18 August 2011

Which? report: Independent opticians better trusted with UK’s eye care

Independent opticians are a safer place for people to have their eyes tested and get new glasses – as claimed in a new Which? report.

Richard Pakey,a self-styled champion of the UK’s 3,000 independent opticians, has welcomed the consumer report.

In a number of tests, researchers got a higher standard of eye test from independents than they did at the big chains.

Richard is the founder of specialist optical growth company Independent Practice Growth UK and himself a dispensing optician.

He said: “This clearly shows smaller opticians can offer higher standards of eye healthcare.

“That’s not a big surprise. When you use an independent optician, you are highly likely to be dealing with a business that is being run by the owner.

“When someone’s name is above the door there is a higher level of pride in the work that is done. I know hundreds of independent opticians, and most take personal responsibility for the quality of eye healthcare in the practice.”

He added: “That’s different from the big chains, where you typically deal with different employees at every visit, who just want to process you quickly to hit targets.

“Is that really how we want eye healthcare to be in this country? Or do we want people to build up long-term healthcare relationships with experts who own the businesses they are dealing with?”

Richard pointed out that a visit to the opticians isn’t just about identifying and correcting vision problems.

Eye tests can also detect diseases such as glaucoma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

He believes that the free eye tests and 2 for 1 glasses deals advertised by the chains should be banned, as they make people devalue the importance of regular eye tests.

Richard said: “When you regularly visit a trusted independent optician who knows your history you will actually see much better value for money with more thorough eye exams, more time to ask questions and generally a higher level of care.”

Richard Pakey owns two independent opticians practices in Hertfordshire & Essex.

He founded Independent Practice Growth UK to help other practice owners fight back against the multiples and cheap glasses websites.

Richard’s first book “It’s Time to Fight Back” was published in February 2011.

(EDITOR: Banned? What? Like in a communist society with no freedom of choice? From that remark Richard could be seen as wanting to go back to the bad old days when we wearers of glasses had no choice but to visit the only optician in our town, no matter how good or how bad he was, or how expensive.

Whilst there are horror stories about some large chains -for example, there is one who offers a 60 minute service that in reality takes three weeks, yet you are still charged a premium price for the non-existent 60 minute service!- there are also plenty of horror stories about independent opticians who ruin expensive frames because they decide to repair them with non-standard parts on the basis of: "that will do, they'll never know I did it"  or who have over-charged someone by 300% for what was in reality a fairly cheap pair of frames. And Specsavers, although apparently a national chain is, in reality, hundreds of local opticians all working as part of the Specsavers brand.)