OE harassing me! 17 Aug 2014 13:24 #1
Well I have to hand it to Optical Express!
Since my consultation I haven't phoned them back after my conversation with Sasha, so they've called me every day (I haven't answered) and finally, last resort - the email below.
Wonder what "offers" are on to entice me to blind myself for life?
All the best, looking forward to the 'Which' report.
Eye Sight Saved! 10 Aug 2014 15:12 #2
Having been recommended eye surgery by a friend who had "AMAZING" results, I pondered on the benefits of committing to laser surgery, eventually plucking up the courage to attend a consultation at Optical Express in order to find out more.
I was whisked through in a professional and clinical manner, all benefits being piled on and negatives under played. Naturally. At the end of the session, I was then taken into a room with my sales person (they called her consultant but with no medical training, she was a sales assistant, albeit a nice one), who went through the cost and financing options. Funny that I was suitable only for the most expensive option... anyway, I left without paying a deposit as I couldn't find a suitable date.
That evening I decided to do a bit more research and that's how I found OERML... shocking to discover so many people had problems. you just don't hear about it day to day. Most concerned that most people who have LASIK are left to suffer with dry eye, and some ghosting, halos etc - the very thing OE advertise that they can get rid of.
I got in touch with Sasha for more information and I am very glad I did. Talking with her has persuaded me to save my sight, live with and love my glasses aand contact lenses. After all you can't put a price on your beautiful eyes can you.
THANK YOU SASHA. You've saved another one. x
My Lucky Escape! 09 Aug 2014 15:42 #3
A sobering story about what I now accept as a VERY lucky escape
I’ve been wearing specs for a number of years, happy with my varifocals and told they suit me.
A few weeks ago I popped into my local optician for a check up. I usually change my glasses after check ups as mine do get knocked about a bit and I like a nice designer frame.
My optician advised that he had spotted the start of a cataract and suggested I might want to consult a specialist, emphasising that in his opinion he thought it was very small and should not cause me too much bother.
I was gutted, thinking cataracts were something that old people get, forgetting of course that I'm 62 years old! Did some online research and found the Optical Express website - difficult not to as it seems to dominate most online discussions re optical issues. They offered a free consultation.
I've paid for private medical procedures in the past, which always involved an initial consultation with the specialist, so I naturally expected the same would apply for eye surgery.
I contacted Optical Express and made an appointment at their Belfast branch as I work there during the week. Told I would be unable to drive for a few hours following the appointment as eye drops would be applied during my visit.
I arrived on a Friday afternoon, sent to an upstairs waiting room, where I waited… and waited... and waited, long beyond my appointed time. Finally I asked when I might be seen. "Oh have you filled in a medical questionnaire?" I was asked, handed a form which I completed, and waited some more.
Taken into a room for tests, where another patient was with his ‘refractive counsellor’, my ‘counsellor' chatted with his colleague throughout, mostly about their weekend plans.
You know that 'what am I doing here' feeling you get when you think things aren’t quite right? Well I had it, and after returning to the waiting room I very nearly walked out.
Eventually called into another room, a very nice young optometrist administered drops to my eyes and then put me through similar tests my optician does.
I told her I was there because my optician had thought he saw early signs of a cataract. She enthusiastically agreed, confirming that I had cataracts in both eyes and would need surgical intervention as soon as possible.
I knew she was not a surgeon, but did trust this person to be accurate and truthful about the outcome of her examination and the treatment she recommended.
She explained that the cataract operation (refractive lens exchange) would remove my natural lenses and replace with plastic ones. She told me that their prescription meant I wouldn’t need glasses for distance… but I would still need glasses for reading and computer work and could buy 'off the shelf' readers in Poundland.
She stressed that if I didn’t do it soon my sight would continue to deteriorate. I asked about NHS treatment but she said they wouldn’t consider operating unless the cataracts were very bad.
I explained that I did a lot of driving, often at night. She was keen to point out that in her opinion I should not chose a multifocal lens as it was likely that I would experience glare driving at night.
Then she started explaining prices, that a mono lens replacement would be in the region of £3,200. She wrote it down on a piece of paper. She said I could have the operation in Dublin and it would require three visits, one for 'informed consent’, a second for the first operation, a third for the second eye.
She told me recovery would be a bit uncomfortable for a day or so but I would be good to drive the next day and all would be fine.
She said to take her noted price to the branch manager downstairs and discuss it with him.
I told the manager that I was fairly sure about going ahead, but might need to price compare. At which point he said he had some discretion to reduce the price - providing I paid £500 non refundable deposit there and then!
Well I must have left my brains at home, because I agreed and paid £500 on my credit card.
I did say that I could not go to Dublin and preferred to have it done near my home in the West Midlands. No problem, I could have it done at a private hospital in Manchester at my convenience.
To fund the procedure (£2,712 after discounts) I chose not to have a holiday, after all my health is more important. I did however need to take leave. I am self employed so no work means no pay. I set aside two weeks in my work diary during which time I could have both eyes done and fly back to Belfast a few days after the second operation and get on with my life.
My first appointment was scheduled for Friday 11th July at Bridgewater Hospital in Manchester. Told I would be with them for about 4 hours and to take someone to accompany me.
I was later called and asked to pay the remaining balance in full, which I did by credit card.
I was sent some eye drops and a consent form in the post, with an instruction sheet telling me to apply the drops to my left eye for two days prior to the operation.
I drove 58 miles to my friends house near Manchester where he and his wife were letting me stay the night before the operation, and again the night after, planning to drive home on Sunday.
Arriving just after 9.00am, we went up to the reception area and saw lots of other people there too. We sat in the hospital cafe where my friend enjoyed a bacon sandwich and coffee, but I was forbidden anything other than water. We settled down with internet access.
A young woman at reception asked for my 'informed consent' form which needed to be witnessed by my friend. When I took it back to the reception she said he'd signed in the wrong place, but not to worry, she would sign it, and that's the last I saw of it.
We waited, and waited, and waited - for ages... until eventually a young man took me to repeat all the procedures I’d had in Belfast. He couldn't explain why I had to go through them all again.
I rejoined my friend, becoming anxious as it seemed I was going to be there a lot longer than four hours and was conscious that my friend was giving up so much of his time.
Eventually was taken into a room where I met a woman who said that she was the cause of the delay as she had to see everyone before their op. I don't remember her name or what she does as I was extremely anxious, the thought of anyone touching my eyes did - and still does, scare me to death.
She asked me to read a few charts and then said, "we will be doing your RIGHT eye first". I told her that I’d been told my LEFT eye would be first, which is why I had been putting drops in for two days. She explained that my right eye is my dominant one and that would be first.
I pointed out that surely the right eye was not prepared after instructed to put drops in the left one, and suffered blurred vision for two days for no reason. She then put a load of drops in my RIGHT eye!
Looking through notes she said, "So you're having a multifocal lens replacement?”. “No”, I replied, 'I'm having a mono lens, which is what I was told I needed in Belfast”. She said that they were wrong, I needed multifocal lenses. I explained that I wanted to avoid the possibility of glare with night driving, but she said they had carried out procedures for long distance lorry drivers and that I would have no problems with glare.
By this time I was very very confused… and remember that, 'What the hell am I doing here’ feeling I had in Belfast?
It gets worse...
She said a multifocal lens would cost an additional £900, questioning why would I want to go through this procedure to still have to wear glasses? I said I wasn't worried about my glasses, I was prepared as best as I could be to have the operation, would wear glasses for reading and that’s what I’d paid for.
£900 was effectively a 33% increase in price, sprung on me only minutes before I was due to go down for the operation, already in a very anxious state.
I was gutted and felt under enormous pressure to make a decision, with my eyes full of goodness knows what. I sat for a minute or two and then said I would not pay any more money.
It gets worse…
Returned to the waiting area, I found my friend in the cafe. Keep in mind that we had been there since just after 9.00am and it was by then almost 1.00pm. As he was asking how much longer would we be the young woman from reception came into the cafe with the 'refractive ccounsellor'.
In front of my friend and within earshot of everyone around us, she asked how was I paying the £900. I was staggered. She ranted on about setting up a finance application if I couldn't pay, and that it had to be sorted immediately as I was about to go down for my operation and they had to tell the surgeon which lens to fit.
I said that I didn't think it was right to discuss my personal business in front of other people so we went to the reception. She then said I couldn’t apply for credit under £1,000.
I said I’d already decided not to pay any more. But now feeling very very confused and anxious because I really didn't know what to do, I remembered in Belfast I was given 20% discount, so I asked if I went ahead would they also discount the £900? The woman said, "No! You have had all the discounts and you can't have any more."
Quite honestly I didn't know what the heck was happening. I stood my ground and said I had made up my mind and was sticking to what I had paid for. But still worried about what to do for the best.
My anxiety level was also by now sky high.
Called again, I was taken to an area where I met a nurse. She asked me if I felt alright. I told her that I didn't really, that I felt unsettled and under a lot of pressure. She said that from there on I would not be put under any more pressure.
It gets worse…
She said that I was now being admitted to the care of the hospital and she needed to explain my aftercare as I wouldn't understand any of it after the op. She went through a huge iist of things I couldn't do, what I needed to do regarding medication, I might not be able to drive for a while, and couldn't fly for a week! Due to fly back to work a few days after the second operation that would mean at least another week without pay, and wasted flights.
Then given shoe covers and a gown I was taken to a lift. I got out with the nurse who sat me at a desk. A man with a file in his hand came up and introduced himself as Andre. His opening words were. “So you want to go through this procedure to get rid of the need for your glasses?"
“No”, I replied, "I have to go through with this to get rid of my cataracts.”
He checked my eyes and said, “Look, if I were you I wouldn't be here.”
"What do you mean?”, I asked.
He replied, “You should not go through with this”
I said, "What about my cataracts?”
He told me there was only the slightest evidence of cataracts and they definitely did not need surgical intervention. He also told me that I have 20:20 vision with my spectacles.
He wrote a lengthy entry in the file and told me that I would get all my money refunded. His parting words were, "I will see you when you're eighty!"
I then had more drops applied to my right eye to counteract the effect of the earlier ones. I asked the woman at reception how I was to be refunded who said it was company policy to wait up to 28 days.
I found my friend and got out of there.
I was extremely embarrassed and annoyed by the tacky last minute ambush that was sprung on me at a time when I was at my most vulnerable. It was a cheap and inappropriate tactic.
I was, and still am, angry that two separate examinations at Optical Express advised that I needed immediate surgery, and that I took two weeks unpaid leave to have this procedure on their advice.
I am however grateful that the surgeon, Andre Oberholster, was ethical and honest in refusing to carry out the procedure. I regard him as my saviour given what I have since learned about Optical Express.
The following Monday I called Optical Express to complain and said I would not wait 28 days for my refund. This was initially met with, “We are sorry to hear you're unhappy…" and a repeat of 28 days company policy. After insisting that my complaint was escalated, a woman in Customer Relations eventually agreed to arrange my refund sooner.
I received my refund within 48 hours with a promise that they’d conduct an internal investigation.
I also demanded compensation for the embarrassment and distress they’d caused me, and for the two weeks lost work.
A week later I received this email:
Confused! If I was suitable for this surgery then how was the surgeon acting in my best interests? And after my experience Optical Express vouchers are as useful as an ash tray on a motor bike!
I declined their kind offer and told them I would never step foot in their premises again.
Optical Express didn't get as far as ruining my life but had it not been for the surgeons last minute intervention they could have done!
My business with Optical Express is not finished. They need to take full responsibility and adequately compensate me for the anxiety and distress they collectively caused me.
Currently it seems they are not prepared to do that, and are certainly not interested in meeting me, even though my intention was to discuss how they could prevent such an horrific occurrence in the future.
I will keep you updated.